How to Customize Your WordPress Theme (5 Step-by-Step Ways)

How to Customize Your WordPress Theme (5 Step-by-Step Ways)

If you’ve installed a WordPress theme but it’s not quite right for you, you may be feeling frustrated. There are plenty of options available to you for customizing your WordPress theme.

The challenge is finding the right way to do it.

In this post, I’ll steer you through the options for customizing your WordPress theme, help to decide which one’s right for you and show you how to do it safely and efficiently.

Options for Customizing a Theme

Before we dive in and start making changes to your theme, it pays to understand what the options are, as they suit different situations.

Here’s an overview of the options available to you:

If you want to add functionality to your theme, install a plugin.

  • Use the Customizer in your WordPress admin screens to customize fonts, colors and maybe layout too, depending on your theme.
  • If you’re working with a page builder theme, use its features to customize the design of your site.
  • If you’ve installed a framework theme, use one of the available child themes to customize your site, along with any customization options viable own the admin screens.
  • If your theme is specific to your site and you’re comfortable doing it, edit the theme’s code directly.
  • If you want to edit the code of a third-party theme, create a child theme.

If you want to edit the code, you have a number of options available to you, from using the block editor, to the Customizer, right through to editing the files. We’ll look at them all in this post, but let’s start with the simplest option: installing a plugin.

Do Actually You Need to Customize Your Theme?

Sometimes you don’t need to customize your theme at all: instead, you need to install a plugin.

Themes dictate the design of your site: the way it looks and the way it displays content. Plugins add extra functionality.

If the changes you want to make are focused on functionality rather than design, consider installing a plugin yourself. This could be a plugin you need to write, one you download from the plugin directory, or one you buy.

If you find yourself wanting to edit the functions.php file in your theme, ask yourself:

Would I want to keep this functionality if I switched themes in the future?

If the answer is yes, that code should go in a plugin, not your theme.

Good examples of what you would use a plugin instead of a theme including adding widgets, registering custom post types and taxonomies, creating custom fields and adding extra features like a store or SEO enhancements.

Customizing Your WordPress Theme via the WordPress Admin Screens

If the changes you want to make are design-focused and relatively simple, you may be able to make them via the admin screens. The Customizer gives you a variety of options for tweaking your theme: what’s available to you will depend on your theme. And you may see something called the Editor in the Appearance menu.

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This article was written by Rachel McCollin and originally published on Blog – Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the product, We may receive an affiliate commission.

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