by Ngoc
January 1, 2022

Step by step to customize theme in WordPress safely and efficiently

You may be disappointed if you’ve installed a WordPress theme that isn’t quite proper for you. However, you have a lot of options for customizing your WordPress themes. Therefore, in this post, ArrowTheme will walk you through the options on how to customize theme in WordPress. Don’t worry, we will assist you in making the best decision which is safe and efficient. 

Before coming to find out how to customize theme in WordPress, we will take a look at Customization options for a theme. So are you ready to start right now?

Customization options for a theme

It’s important to understand your options, as they differ depending on the situation. Here is a quick overview of the options available to you:

  • Install a plugin in case you want to add functionality to your theme.
  • Based on your theme, use the Customizer in your WordPress admin screens to change the fonts, colors, and layout.
  • If you’re using a page builder theme, take advantage of its features to personalize the look of your site.
  • In case you install a framework theme. So you can customize your site with one of the available child themes, as well as any customization options available in the admin screens.
  • Edit the code of the theme directly if you’re comfortable doing so.
  • Create a child theme if you want to modify the code of a third-party theme.

If you want to modify the code, you have several options, including using the block editor, the Customizer, and editing the files. We’ll go over all of them in this post, but let’s start with the most basic: installing a plugin.

How to customize theme in WordPress?

How to access the WordPress Customization Page

Go to Appearance > Themes to begin customizing your WordPress theme.

WordPress Customization Page

Find the active theme and click Customize next to its title.

Customize theme

On the subsequent page, you can make real-time changes to your WordPress theme. On the left, you  can see a list of available options. Besides that, on the right, you can see a live preview of your site and how the changes will affect it.

change the Title and Tagline

How to change the Title and Tagline in WordPress

The theme customization page allows you to change the title of your site and tagline. Moreover, you also can see how it will appear on your live site. Therefore, you should expand the Site Identity group of settings and change the text. When you type, the new text will appear in the preview on the right side. When you’re satisfied with the outcome, click Publish.

Additional WordPress Theme Customizations

Depending on the theme, there may be additional options on that page. For example, Cecile WooCommerce Theme allows you to change the header image, color scheme, add additional CSS, and more. When you’re satisfied with the outcome, click Publish to save the changes.

how to customize theme in WordPress

Customizing your WordPress Theme via the WordPress Admin Screens

Customizing your Theme via the Customizer

The WordPress Customizer is the simplest way to customize your WordPress theme.

You can get to this in one of two ways:

  • When you are logged in and viewing your site, choose the Customize link in the admin bar at the top of the screen.
  • Click Appearance > Customize in the admin screens.

This will bring you to the Customizer.

Customizer

Different themes offer different levels of customization. However, newer themes appear to be adding more and more of them all the time. In case you like a theme but it isn’t quite right for you. So customizing will help you exactly the design and layout you require.

The Theme Editor 

Do you see an option called Theme Editor in your admin screens? Thanks to it, you can access via Appearance > Theme Editor.

Theme Editor

This gives you access to the files in your theme. Therefore, you can edit them directly.

Don’t.

Even if you’re familiar with CSS or PHP, editing the files in your theme like this is a bad idea for two reasons:

In case you purchased or downloaded a third-party theme. So any changes you make will be lost when the theme is updated. Besides that, you also should keep your theme updated for security reasons.

More importantly, in case you make a change that causes your site to break. So it will not be tracked. Moreover, the previous version of the file will not be changed. So you may completely ruin the site.

In case you want to change the code in your theme. So you should use a code editor (see the best free HTML editors), and don’t change the files on your live site until you’ve tested it on a WordPress site. Moreover, if you make changes to a third-party theme, you should do so through a child theme. 

WordPress is aware of how dangerous it is to use the theme editor. Furthermore, it even warns you when you try to access it.

The Theme Editor

So, follow WordPress’s advice and avoid using the theme editor!

Using page builders and frameworks to customize theme in WordPress

Using a page builder to customize theme in WordPress

Page Builder plugins are designed to make it simple for you to customize the look of your website.

However, you should install a page builder plugin together with a suitable theme. After that, you should use the choices it provides to customize your site as you want. Elementor is one of the most well-known page builders. 

how to customize theme WordPress

Page builders allow you to update your articles and pages using a drag-and-drop interface. Therefore, you can preview how your content will appear and customize each page.

Using a theme framework to customize theme in WordPress

Theme frameworks are an alternative to page builders. These are collections of themes that are used together. There is one parent theme, which serves as the framework. Besides that, with several child themes, you can change the main theme and make it appear the way you want.

A theme framework with customization tools allows you to get the look of your child theme. Moreover, there is a drag-and-drop interface similar to page builders.

Editing code of your WordPress Theme

Editing Theme Files

Understanding which theme files handle what and which you need to alter is the first step in editing your WordPress theme.

The Stylesheet

A stylesheet called style.css is included with every WordPress theme. It has all of the code needed to style your site like layout, fonts, colors, and more.

For example, you can modify the stylesheet if you want to change the colors in your theme. Besides that, you can use the stylesheet if you want to add a new font. Therefore, you can apply a new font to different elements like the body text and headings.

When modifying the stylesheet, keep in mind that specificity means that the code for an element may not necessarily come from where you believe it should. Unless you apply styling which is distinct to the lower element, elements will inherit styling from elements above them in the page hierarchy.

So you can use the inspector in your browser to see what CSS is influencing which elements on the page

 customize theme in WordPress

The functions file

The functions file is  the file that makes a lot of your theme’s features work. It has code for you to register theme features like featured photos, widgets, and more.

You can add functional code to your theme at here if you want. But you should be building a plugin in some cases. Plugins don’t have to be large. Furthermore, nothing prevents you from writing one with just a few lines of code.

Because the functions file is written entirely in PHP. Don’t just copy and paste code from a Google search. Take the effort to figure out and comprehend what that code does. 

The theme template files

The theme template files make up the majority of the files in a theme. These are the files that define what content WordPress displays on a given page. Moreover, they are selected based on the template hierarchy.

So you should update one of these files or create a new one In case you want to change the way content is displayed on a specific post type, page, or archive.

Let’s say your theme includes an archive.php file. It generates archive pages for categories and tags. Besides that, you want to change the way tags are displayed. So you make a file named “tag.php” that is based on archive.php but with your tweaks.

Customizing a third-party theme with a child theme

If you want to change the code of a third-party theme you’re using on your site, you have to build a child theme.

Because in case you edit the theme directly and then update it (which you should). So you can lose all of your modifications.

There are four steps to creating a child theme:

1. Make a new folder in the wp-content/themes.

2. Make a stylesheet in that folder. Inform WordPress that this is a child theme of your existing theme in that stylesheet.

3. Make copies of the files you want to change and edit them in the child theme.

4. Make the child theme active on your website.

WordPress theme customization best practices

Customize without editing the code if possible.

It is safer to make your adjustments through the Customizer or other admin screens rather than editing the code.

Only edit the code if you’re comfortable with CSS (for the stylesheet) and PHP (for the other theme files) and can do it securely.

Make your changes on a local development site

In case you’re making modifications to your theme’s code or developing a child theme. So you should do it on a local WordPress installation with your theme installed and your content copied from your live site.

Therefore, you can test your modifications on a mirror of your live site. Working on a local site has no impact on your live site and can even save you time.

Even in case you’re using the Customizer, it’s a good idea to test your changes on a local version of your site. Because you can publish and test them without impacting the live site. After testing your theme changes, you can either upload it to your live site. Besides that, you also can test it on a staging site before pushing it live.

Use version control

When making modifications to your theme, you should keep track of them using version control.

Changing the theme’s version number and storing copies of both versions is the simplest way to do this. However, if you want to log your modifications properly, you have to use a site like GitHub.

If a change causes issues, you can immediately undo it without having to make manual changes. In case, you’re working as part of a team. So version control is much more useful. Because you can see what the other members are doing

Use a staging site to test your changes

You should test on a staging site before activating the new version of your theme on your live site

Because any local site will differ from your live site in several ways. It will be hosted on a different server or use a different version of PHP. Furthermore, it can use a different set of tools to run your site.

Therefore, you should create a staging server copy of your live site. After that, you can upload and activate your new theme. Finally, in case everything works. So you can push your modifications to the live site.

Make your theme mobile-friendly

With more users accessing the internet through their mobile phones and Google’s Mobile-first index, it’s more crucial than ever for your theme to work on mobile than it is on desktop. As a result, any adjustments you make to your theme should be mobile-friendly, if not mobile-first.

Your search engine rankings and conversion rates will decrease if your theme isn’t responsive.

In case you don’t have access to a variety of mobile devices. So a tool like BrowserStack will help you. Thanks to it, you can view how your site looks on various devices. You can also utilize your browser’s Developer tools and the Customer’s responsive views.

how to customize theme in WordPress

Ensure that your customizations do not limit accessibility

Any adjustments you make to your theme must also be usable by people with disabilities or sensory impairments.

This isn’t just about making sure your site works with screen readers. Because for many individuals there are other factors like color palettes and font sizes.

In case you want to make modifications to your theme like brighten the colors or make the text smaller. So you should think carefully, Because it can be difficult for people to read or interact with your site.

Hence, you should use an accessibility checker. Because you can test your site before making any modifications live.

Conclusion

It’s not difficult to customize your WordPress theme. Changing fonts, colors, or your favicon can sometimes be as simple as using the Customizer. So if you still have any questions about how to customize theme in WordPress, you just fill your information into this CONTACT US FORM. And the support team of ArrowTheme will help you to answer it. More importantly. ArrowTheme by AHT TECH JSC bring to your business the best WordPress Themes. More specifically, you will have a complete ecommerce website solution with our WordPress Website Packages which provide 2 options for you: Standard and Advance. The Advance package is an advanced version of the Standard package. Just pick one of the two packages listed, and our dedicated specialists will assist you with the rest of your Ecommerce Website Building Process. Do you want to find out more about it? As a result, make certain that you do not overlook them.

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