How to customize your WordPress theme

Need to customize a WordPress theme? Maybe you just started your personal website, but the default WordPress themes don’t show you off.

Luckily, WordPress offers a host of options to help you edit and design your website theme to your preference. We’ll show you how to get started.

Step 1: Change the default theme

Currently, a basic installation of WordPress comes with the Twenty-Twenty Two theme set as default. But as you might have noticed, the default theme doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that you would want on your website. Sure, it loads fast and delivers what’s needed, but you also want your website to look good.

Therefore, you should consider replacing the default WordPress theme with something more customizable. Some good examples are GeneratePress, Astra, OceanWP, Kadence WP, etc.

To do this, log in to your site’s WordPress dashboard and select Appearance from the left sidebar. Then go to the Themes section and click Add new to install a new theme. WordPress will present a catalog of the most popular and recent themes. You can either choose one from this list or manually type in the name of the theme you want to install in the search field.

Either way, hover over the theme entry when you see it and click Install. Then click Enable to apply the theme to the live website. Many WordPress themes look fantastic out of the box, while you may even need to customize the basic website layout yourself in some cases.

Step 2: Editing some general website variables

Once you’ve installed the theme you like, the next step is to set some basic variables that affect your entire website, such as your website name, tagline, and logo. Head to the Appearance section and click Personalize to open the WordPress customizer. Here you will find settings to modify the structure, design and typography of your website.

Note that the option labels mentioned below may be different depending on the theme you have installed, but most of the features will be present in the customizer, just under a different label. So be sure to play around with the options before making any real changes to the website.

To get started, go to Identity of the site and enter your website name and tagline. Next, create two different logos for your website: the header logo and the favicon. WordPress will specify the recommended dimensions for the favicon; you just need to create the image and upload it to the library. The rest is easy!

You can also choose to hide the website name and tagline if you upload a custom logo.

Next, move on to editing the website layout by switching to the Arrangement section. Here you can change the main container width, header alignment, navigation menu, sidebars and much more.

It is recommended that you create your header and footer menus at this point, using the menus section – so you can just focus on the design side of things later.

Step 3: Move to more advanced styles

Now that the fundamentals are out of the way, you would have a basic structure of how your website looks. Don’t worry if it still doesn’t look good. Head to the Colors and select the primary colors for your website. You can use an online website to generate color palettes for your brand.

Then go to the Typography section and add the fonts you would like to have on your website. Once you have selected a clean and readable font, proceed to Widgets. There are tons of widgets you can add to your website: search box, recent comments, related posts, gallery, custom HTML code, text display, etc.

Select where you want to display the widget, then simply add one using the WordPress widget blocking feature.

Step 4: Use custom code to customize your WordPress theme

One of the many features of WordPress is its ability to handle custom code. You can add your code on top of WordPress and it will reflect the changes without breaking anything. The only problem? You should be proficient in CSS to style HTML and PHP to modify default WordPress functionality.

To add custom CSS to your website, go to Additional CSS section inside the WordPress customizer. Here you can use classes and ids to select and style HTML elements to your liking. To get the element ID of an HTML entity, use the browser developer tools offered by Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.

Additionally, to customize how the theme works, go to your WordPress dashboard and select Appearance from the left sidebar. Below Theme file editoryou will find a list of all theme files and an editor you can use to modify them.

You can change anything from how posts appear on your category pages to how comments are displayed and filtered by modifying PHP files.

Step 5: Create a child theme to save customizations

Your customizations will make your site beautiful. But only until the developer releases a theme update. Changes you make to your theme will be lost as soon as you update your WordPress theme. To counter this, you can create a child theme from your main WordPress theme.

A child theme inherits the style, appearance and functions of the parent theme and allows you to add your customizations to it. This way, whenever there is a new update to the main theme, you can be sure that the update will only affect the parent theme and your customizations will remain intact.

Bonus Tip: Use a Page Builder or Templates to Design Your Website

If you don’t want to spend time generating a branded color palette and customizing every aspect of your website, consider using pre-made templates. A word of warning: not all WordPress themes offer templates to their users for free, but there are plenty that do.

So, if you are short on time and need to quickly create a personal or business website, install a theme that comes with different templates for you to choose from.

This is what the demo website looks like after applying a template by GeneratePress:

Even better, you can use a page builder that lets you create custom pages using drag-and-drop tools. You can also edit and create custom headers and footers with these tools.

WordPress page builders like Elementor and Divi are a lifesaver for those who don’t have experience with front-end technologies, and just need a quick way to create beautiful WordPress-powered websites without coding.

Create a professional website with WordPress

Launching a website takes time. You need to purchase a domain name and set up hosting, and that’s after you’ve managed to find a brand name.

There are currently nearly 1.7 billion websites on the Internet, with more being added every day. Therefore, it is important to choose a unique domain name that helps your brand stand out from the crowd.

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