A website is a company’s brand identity online. When designing a web page, the web developer needs to make sure that the design is unique in its own way to not only stand out from the crowd but also to ensure that the design can communicate clearly the brand objective. When choosing a premium WordPress theme for your website, the look, and feel of the design template should be able to communicate the business service properly. If you are thinking of customizing your website with the appropriate design template that will serve within your niche, then proper research is necessary to personalize your website according to the type of industry you are representing online.
Always go for templates that fit your niche. This is important so that your website can be easily identified by your target audience. There are a number of premium WordPress themes you can choose for your site. Some of the best examples are templatemonster WordPress themes or ThemeForest WordPress themes. These sites provide over 700 WP business themes that are designed to give your website a clear cut professional style while at the same time make it engaging enough to ensure people visit your page again and again. You might also think of customizing your website to give it a more personalized look. This would give your website a sole identity of its own even though the same template is being used by other websites as well.
Start With Identifying The Structure of the Right Template Theme
WordPress comes with a hierarchy of template themes, specifying how each of them is identified and applied to different pages and posts by default. It is important to understand the thematic structure of WordPress before learning how it functions. A default theme folder includes many PHP or template files and a style.css file. The home page of a WP website generally consists of many template files namely the index.php, sidebar.php, header.php, and footer.php. All these files combine together to ultimately form the final look of a home page.
You need to first identify the structural pattern of a WP website, which is divided into 4 templates or PHP files – header, sidebar, content, and footer.
The Header – This is situated at the top of a website and consists of a logo, title, menu and other important contents. One can find this in the header.php file.
The Sidebar – This is located on the side of a website and can be found either on one or both the sides. You can locate this in the template file named sidebar.php.
The Content – Here, based on the user request, a content that gets generated on a certain page is controlled by WordPress Loop. Usually, one can find the PHP file for the home page in the index.php template file. However, for pages that present unique features come with a combination of other template files like a featured.php file.
The Footer – This can be located at the bottom of the web page and one can find it in the footer.php template file.
How To Customize A WordPress Theme
#1 – Knowing the basic standard codes
There are two sets of standard code type for customizing your WP site. They are –
- For CSS customization
- For PHP customization
You need to ensure first that you can directly customize them from your dashboard. If you are unable to customize the theme directly from your dashboard, then you can resort to using the FTP file to open the template files. Please note that when you try to customize the theme directly from the WordPress dashboard, some of the codes will remain hidden. This prevents issues like directory browsing or coding errors that would otherwise affect the site from running properly. The template file for index.php contains hidden codes. This file is important because it ensures a site is run properly. Therefore, you can only open the file by either using the FTP file or going to ‘Edit File’ option from the ‘Control Panel’.
#2- Changing The custom.css
Custom File Editor
You can click on the ‘Custom File Editor’ on your WordPress admin panel to directly change the custom.css. The other way to change the custom.css is by directly uploading a new custom.css file from your computer. Just click on the ‘Upload File’ option located on the top panel.
#3 – Customizing Your Website’s Appearance
When deciding how your website will look like, your top priority should be to make the home page informative as well as attractive. The standard structure of a website should contain a header, a sidebar, content and a footer. Keeping this in mind will help you to visualize better how your website must look like. Click on the ‘Appearance’ option from the WP admin panel to avail the ‘Editor’ option. When you click on this, you would gain access to a list of files along with codes. You can use the ‘Editor’ for customizing the PHP code, however, you can also customize a default CSS style from the style.css of the theme.
#4 – Company Logo Customization On The Website Header
You can change the logo size from the dashboard setting. If there are some adjustments to make on the logo position, then you can do it by working on the CSS code. Go to the header section and open the header.php template file to make your logo changes. For example, if you want to make the width of the logo wider, then locate the div tag section (<div id=”header”>) in the header.php file. You need to keep your focus on the div tag that uses the “fl” class for the logo. There are other codes for div tags, which are used to make a logo smaller in size. The class that is used to make a logo smaller in size is “col9”. Since the demonstration here is being shown to make the width of a logo wider, you need to remove the “col9” codes and use only the “fl” codes. You can customize the style of your company logo by changing the “fl” class. For example, converting the “fl” class and changing it to “logoWide” class. This helps to customize the CSS style while keeping the same class for other styles. Changing the CSS code will help you to add a new style, resize or replace a default style at the style.css. You can change the style of your logo (even if it is of the same class) by putting the new CSS coding in custom.css with the help of the custom.css editor.
#5 – Add New Functions To Customize Your Theme
You can add new functions to your Premium WordPress theme directly from the custom-functions.php file. The functions available are simple, effective and concise. Besides adding new functions, you can integrate new plugins, change or add layouts, etc. For changing the layout, you need to check the file type and its section to understand which part do you want to remove, duplicate, replace or change. It is important that you check the codes used for the tags, characters, lines for every section of the layout carefully before proceeding to change the layout itself by using the available codes at the template.
#6 – Updating The Latest WordPress Themes
You need to be careful when you are updating your WordPress theme. If you have customized the WP theme recently, then make sure to save the customization code before updating the site to the new theme version. Here are a few steps you can follow to protect your site from any unwanted circumstances –
1 – Make a note of the list of customizations you have made to your site
2 – Copy down all the codes from both custom.css file and custom-functions.php to the local driver
3 – After downloading the new version of the theme, extract it to your local driver
4 – Before you upload the new theme version, break down the files that you have customized at the new version theme folder. This is because upon activation of the new theme version; the site will render the default theme again. In such a situation, you would lose all the customization codes
5 – Replace the code files in the new theme version with the customized ones
6 – To make the child theme on your website, rename the theme folder by clicking on the ‘New’ from the ‘Backbone’. You need to be careful when renaming the theme folder since some characters affect the functionalities of a website
7 – Upload the theme folder to the server to activate it
8 – Now copy all the codes from the temporary custom.css and the custom-functions.php files from the local driver, and paste them on the custom.css and the custom-functions.php files located on the dashboard.
9 – Go through all the steps to make sure you are doing it right
Your Task Is Not Yet Complete Unless You Test Your Theme
Do not forget to do this. This will ensure you that your new customized theme is working just like before but with better results. There are many WordPress plugins to test your website’s customized theme. One such name is the Theme Test Drive plug-in. Other than that, you can also do a manual check-up of the website by testing all the features like the search box, the contact pages, the widgets, etc. You can also contact a WordPress web development company for professional assistance and better guidance.