How To Customize WordPress Theme? Ultimate Guide 2024

How To Customize WordPress Theme

I have seen how editing WordPress themes for beginners can be confusing.

You may have questions like “Are WordPress themes customizable” or “Can you customize WordPress themes for free?”, etc.

Well, there are many ways to customize WordPress themes.

But, the WordPress themes customization process is not complicated if you have the right guidance.

And I am going to show you how to customize WordPress theme easily for your website.

So make sure to read this in full.

What is a WordPress theme?

WordPress theme is essential for any WordPress site because themes help in designing your website.

Your site’s design or layout is actually coded into the theme.

So, you do not have to worry about coding when building your website.

All you have to do is select a theme for your website and then customize the headers, footers, sidebars, colors, fonts, links, logos, etc.

So, as you can understand, without a WordPress theme, it is not possible to have a website at all.

When you install WordPress on your hosting server, you will get the default WordPress theme.

The default WordPress theme is named after the year of the WordPress version you are using.

So, if you have a WordPress version for the year 2024, the name of the default WordPress theme will be twenty-twenty-four.

You may replace the default theme with a theme available in the WordPress repository if you want.

There are thousands of free and premium themes in the WordPress repository which is just like an Apple App Store or Android Playstore or Chrome Marketplace.

You may also get yourself a premium theme from third-party sites like ThemeForest, TemplateMonster, etc.

What is a WordPress child theme?

Another question I face a lot is – What is child theme in WordPress?

Well, a WordPress child theme is a theme that is derived from its parent theme.

WordPress child themes do not have files such as header.php, footer.php, etc.

It just has the functions.php and the style.css files.

But, you cannot just install child themes in WordPress without its parent theme.

The benefit of having a child theme is that, when the parent theme is updated, the child theme remains unaffected.

Hence, you can put your own codes into the child theme, if you want to customize the theme, without the fear of getting them wiped out after the update.

Why do you need to customize a WordPress theme?

You need to customize a WordPress theme as you want a design that fits your need or business.

The theme may also have dummy text, which you have to customize.

The best strategy to customize WordPress themes is to first install the child theme if the theme already has it.

If not, you may ask your developer to create one for you.

If you do not have a developer or want to do it on your own for any reason, you may have to get your hands dirty with coding.

However, the best option will be to buy a theme that already has a child theme packaged with it.

And, if you buy a theme that does not have it, you can contact their support and they will guide you.

Different ways to customize a WordPress theme

  1. WordPress Customizer
  2. Plugins or Page Builders
  3. Custom Themes
  4. Customized WordPress Themes.

Now let’s take a look at each of them.

1. How to customize WordPress theme using the default WordPress customizer tool?

The options in the WordPress Customizer vary from theme to theme.

I am using the default Twenty-Twenty-One theme to show you how you can customize the theme in the Customizer.

Also, note that with the Full Site Editor in WordPress version 6.0 you can now customize any part of a theme.

But, you cannot use the Full Site Editing feature on all themes at the moment because it’s not supported yet by most of the themes.

Nevertheless, you can use the in-built customizer, and here’s how to customize the WordPress theme step by step – 

Login to the WordPress dashboard click Appearance -> Customize and go to the WordPress Customizer page (Fig.1)

wordpress customize

The Customizer has 2 panes – the menu on the left and the live site on the right (Fig.2)

You can customize the theme on the left pane and view the changes at the same time on the right pane.

wordpress theme customizer

Click on Site Identity on the left.

Click on Select Logo and upload the logo of your website from your computer (Fig.3)

Write the WordPress title and tagline for the logo if you want, but it’s not mandatory.

Next, upload a favicon, that is, the little logo that appears on the browser window, by clicking on the “site icon” button.

logo and favicon

Now, click the left arrow on the top and go back to the main menu.

For customizing the color settings click the Colors & Dark Mode option (Fig.2) and change the background color of the site (Fig.4).

customize the color

You can also select an image as the background image of your website by going to the Background Image option in the menu (Fig.2).

Now click on the Menus (Fig.2) and go to the Menus section.

If you click the Create New Menu button, you can create a new menu (Fig.5).

create a new menu

If you click the View All Locations button (Fig.5), you will see two menu locations for the site – the Primary Menu and the Secondary Menu (Fig.6).

menu locations

The Primary menu is the navigation on the header of your website and the Secondary Menu is the navigation on the footer of your website.

The theme already has a menu called Top ( See Fig. 5). So let’s customize it.

Click on the name Top and under Menu Name, delete Top, and write any name you want. 

Or you may leave it as it is.

Under the Menu Name, there are 2 bars – Home and Uncategorized (Fig.7)

add items to the menu

These bars are in hierarchy style, which means that Home is the main menu and Uncategorized is the sub-menu.

You can drag the bars to the left side to make them the main menu.

Or you can drag the bar to the right side to make it the sub-menu.

If you click the Add Items button (Fig.7), you will get different menu items such as pages, posts, categories, tags, and formats.

The pages and posts that you have created will appear under each menu item.

As there is already a page named Sample Page on the website, the name Sample Page is shown under the Pages menu item.

The Home is a Custom Link item and the Uncategorized is a category item.

You can click on any Item and select the pages, posts, categories, etc. that you have created to add them to the menu.

Once you have finished adding the items to the menu, select the location of the menu by checking either the Primary menu or the Secondary menu, or both at the bottom.

Now go back to the main screen of the Customizer and click on Widgets (Fig.2).

We will now be on the “Customizing Widgets Footer” screen (Fig.8).

the widgets screen

There may be other widget areas like the sidebar and header on other themes, but this theme has only one widget area, which is on the footer.

Click on Got It and you will get 5 widgets on the footer, which are already set up for you (Fig.9).

the widgets

Each of these widgets is a WordPress Gutenberg block.

You can add a new block by clicking on the + sign.

You can also delete a block or customize any of the blocks.

Now, go back and click on the Homepage Settings (Fig.2).

You can either display Your latest posts or A static page for the homepage (Fig.10).

homepage settings
Fig. 10

If you have pages or posts created, you can select one of those as the static page for the Hompage of your website.

If you click Excerpt on the main screen of the Customizer you can show either the Summary or the Full post on the Archive page of your site (Fig.11).

excerpt settings

The Add CSS settings are for adding any Additional CSS code to your site.

add css

That’s it!

We have now learned how to customize the default theme in WordPress.

There may be many other additional options for theme customizations in other themes.

But the ways to customize them are the same.

2. Plugins or Page Builders

Besides using the Customizer in WordPress you can use plugins to customize the WordPress theme too.

These types of plugins are also called page builders.

There are many page builder plugins like Elementor, Visual Composer, WPBakery, Beaver Builder, Seedprod, etc.

If you are wondering “how do I edit a WordPress theme without coding”, then you can get one of these page builder plugins.

So, let’s look briefly at using page builders to customize your WordPress Theme.

We will use Elementor here.

After you have installed Elementor, create a new post or a page.

elementor button

Click on the Edit with Elementor button (Fig.13) on the top and you will be inside the Elementor dashboard.

elementor dashboard

There are 2 panels – the Elements panel on the left and the Canvas on the right.

You can drag and drop any element on the canvas to create your page.

There are some basic elements in the free version of Elementor.

If you want more you need to buy a subscription.

On the top of the panel, if you click the hamburger menu (Fig.14), there are other options like Site Settings, Theme Builder, User Preferences, etc. (Fig.15)

elementor settings

On clicking the Site Settings, you can customize Colors, Fonts, Typography, Header, Footer, etc. (Fig.16).

customizer in Elementor

I will not be going into the details, but I think you have got the idea.

After you have finished customizing your theme and building your page, hit the publish button.

Customizing sites with page builders is a tedious process, as it involves a lot of work.

But, you can build a theme from scratch using these page builders or import a starter template or a theme and customize it.

3. Custom Themes

What is a custom theme in WordPress?

Custom themes are those themes that have been built either by you or a developer specifically for your own use.

So, if you are wondering “How do I create a custom theme”, well, you have to code it yourself or hire a developer.

For customizing WordPress theme with codes, a knowledge of programming languages such as HTML, PHP, CSS, and Javascript is necessary.

4. Customized WordPress themes

If you do not want to use a general WordPress theme available in the WordPress repository or code it yourself or use a page builder, you can buy a ready-made theme from marketplaces like Themeforest, TemplateMonster, etc.

These are WordPress custom themes, specifically built for a particular business.

So, if you are in the real estate business, you can buy a real estate theme.

Or, if you are an artist, you can buy an artist theme.

These are also customizable WordPress themes that you can easily customize with the Customize option in WordPress.

How to customize WordPress theme for mobile?

To customize the WordPress theme for mobile, the process is similar to customizing for larger devices.

However, the theme has to be responsive in WordPress in the first place.

The responsiveness of a theme depends on how the theme is coded.

To check, whether a theme is responsive, just open the site on a mobile device.

Or, you can decrease the browser window on a desktop computer to check the responsiveness.

You can use the Customize option in WordPress to customize the theme for mobile devices.

Page builders like Elementor have a mobile icon to check the responsiveness of the theme too.

If you do not find the theme to be responsive, you have to make changes to the height, width, font size, etc. to make your website look good for mobile devices.

The right theme for your site

To find the right theme for your site, one of the best practices is to first look for a customized theme for your business.

Customized themes are pre-built with all the necessary features for your business.

So, you do not need to think as to which feature you need and build your website from scratch.

All you need to do is to make changes to the colors, text, and images.

It will take less time to develop your site.


So which WordPress theme is best for customization?

Well, there is nothing as such.

All WordPress themes can be customized either with the Customize option in WordPress or with page builder plugins or through changes to the codes of the theme.

But, I promised that I would tell you which one is the easiest process of them all, right?

So, the easiest process of WordPress themes customization is to buy a customized theme that already has all the features needed for your business.

If you get a pre-built customized theme, it is very easy to further customize it.

It takes a lot less time to build your website too.

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