Website creation is not a one-time deal where you just create a design layout and wait for people to see it. You need to put some efforts to actually make people come to your site and, more importantly, need to turn them into returning visitors (i.e. the visitors who keep on coming back to your site time and again). One best way to do so requires you to create a unique and good-looking website design.
If you already have a WordPress themed site, you don’t need to spend your time and efforts in re-designing the theme completely and can rather customize the theme to match up with your business specific needs. You can, in fact, find tons of tutorials and helpful resources online to learn about the theme development and customization process. But the online resources are hardly comprehensible to beginners who’re new to the workings of WordPress, especially when it comes to customizing a WordPress theme.
Through this post, I would like to discuss about the importance of why you should customize a WP theme and the right way to do the same.
Why You Need to Customize a WordPress Theme?
Before proceeding further, it is very important for you to understand why you need to customize your WordPress theme anyway. As we all know, a website is a great medium that enables you to broaden your brand’s reach to audiences located far and wide. And a unique and compelling website design can convey your brand message in the most effective way possible. However, there are probably a dozen of sites having the same design like yours, and thus it becomes needful for you to customize your theme so that you can distinguish yourself from your competition.
How to Customize a WordPress Theme?
If you’re just a novice developer wanting to tweak a WordPress theme, just the thought of fiddling with the code of the theme can be a daunting one. But there are some simple things that you need to work upon to customize your theme without impacting your main WordPress themed site. When it comes to customizing a theme, it is highly recommended that you should avoid making tweaks directly to your theme, and rather you should create a child theme and make the changes as you like.
Put it simply, you can use a child theme for your theme customization needs. This is simply because, child themes allow you to make alterations to your theme without impacting the parent theme. Wondering, what is a child theme? A child theme is nothing more than a simple theme that inherits the features and style of the parent (or main) theme. It allows you to make changes to the theme without losing the changes if the parent theme is updated.
Note: In order to create a child theme, you need to have a parent theme installed in your WordPress installation.
In order to create a child theme you only have to create one single folder and a file. Begin with, creating a folder on your system that has the same name of your child theme. And then, create a style.css file within the newly created folder. You need to enter some specific information in this file to make it know that it’s a child theme. For instance, you’ll need to add the below given code within your style.css file:
Theme Name: My First Child Theme
Theme URI: http://examplesite.com/
Description: This is a custom child theme.
Author: Name of the author
Author URI: http://examplesite.com/
In the above code, you only need to change the theme name to anything you like, and change the Template line (i.e. myparenttheme) to your parent theme name (i.e. the one to which you will add the child theme).
Since your child theme does not contain any styling information, the design of your child theme will be same as that of your parent theme design. To do so, you’ll need to import the stylesheet of the parent theme as shown in the code as follow:
Remember to change the parent line to the name of your parent theme.
Now that you finished making the aforementioned changes and saved the style.css file, you will need to add the newly created child theme to your WordPress installation. For this purpose, you are required to connect to your FTP client (such as Filezilla or any other) and then move to the “/wp-content/themes/” folder. Once you’ve opened the folder, upload the child theme that contains the newly created style.css file. When this folder is uploaded you can see and activate your child theme in your WordPress website dashboard theme area.
You can edit and make changes to your child theme’s style.css theme without implicating any changes to your basic theme design from the parent theme.
Note: In order to make more advanced and complicated customizations to your child theme, you’ll need to create a functions.php file and include it into your child theme folder. That’s because, this file can be used for changing any functionality of your theme.
There are several changes you can make to tailor your WordPress theme as per your own needs. While you can choose to make simple tweaks like changing color schemes, there are a few complicated changes as well that helps to modify your website structure.
And so, WordPress theme customization may appear to be an intimidating task for you in the beginning. However, once you become familiar with the process of creating and using a child theme and the style.css file, you can easily customize your website design without the fear of losing changes of your main theme.