How to Customizing a wordpress theme
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You’ve got WordPress set up, you’ve installed your favorite theme, and now you want more. You want to learn how to customize a WordPress theme so it looks just right. Where do you get started? How hard is it?
You might think the hardest part of the process is learning WordPress or doing something fancy with code. In fact, it’s learning a few basic concepts and applying them when you want to customize your theme. There are even some fantastic free tools available to make this process fun.
The basics of CSS (cascading style sheets)
Oh no! CSS sounds complicated! It really isn’t, trust me. You’ll be a pro in no time. CSS at the core is a language (a basic one) for applying style (colors, fonts, layout) to HTML. HTML is what a web page (even a WordPress web page) is built on. Think of it like a doll that you can dress up in different outfits. The “body” of the doll is called HTML and “outfit” is called a CSS stylesheet. It’s a sheet of instructions for styling the HTML. Makes sense right? What if instead of actually choosing an outfit for your doll, you wrote down some instructions on a piece of paper for how the doll should be dressed:
Shoes: black, velcro
CSS works the exact same way! You specify selectors (the pants) and apply properties (green). The HTML provides convenient indicators, called ID’s and classes, that make it easy to target all kinds of different parts of your website. Let’s say you wanted to change some text in a certain section of your website. You’d write something like this:
The easiest way to edit your CSS file is to visit Appearance → Editor from your WordPress dashboard. You’ll want to open the style.css file (which should be open by default). This is your stylesheet. These are all the instructions for how to dress your doll. The specific instruction blurb you changed in our example above actually exists in that file.
Search for the style rule you changed in the browser and actually change it for real!
Update your customized CSS in the WordPress theme editor
Now click the Update File button below the editor. Visit your site and the changes should now be live. Nice work!
Power up with a child theme
Two problems pop up when you start changing your theme’s stylesheet:
If the developer of the theme ever releases an update, and you update your theme, all your changes will be lost.
It’s easy to make a mess of the original code, and forget what exactly you changed.
Luckily, WordPress has support for child themes, which help you sidestep this problem. So, before you get started with your customizing, learn how to use a WordPress child theme. You should also know, we include child themes with all of our WordPress templates here at The Theme Foundry.
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