WordPress is a wildly popular website hosting platform. About 35% of the internet uses it, including bloggers, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies. Many business owners favor this platform for exceptionally good reasons.
First of all, WordPress is supported by a large community. It’s an open-source platform, and many find it easy to set up and manage. Therefore, it’s practical for almost any business to use.
Additionally, it has a wide range of themes available. Most of them are visually appealing and functional — fostering a better impact on success for businesses.
However, many businesses choose to customize their WordPress theme. Here’s why.
There are many reasons people choose to customize their WordPress themes.
If you end up using the same theme as another person, your visitors may not remember your website — even if you switch out the font and colors.
Although you can purchase a premium theme and modify it to your taste, this doesn’t make you unique. Even if you make radical changes, the layout and features will still resemble other players in the market.
Premium themes are overloaded with features you might not even need. Ultimately, the more plugins you have, the longer it takes your site to load.
Loading speeds are crucial for business websites. In fact, visitors will go elsewhere if your site doesn’t load within the first few seconds. This can impact your sales and, essentially, your search engine optimization (SEO) rankings.
Custom themes provide exclusive features no other site will have. Plus, the load is lighter, allowing your website to run faster and create a better user experience.
Additionally, you can rest assured knowing custom WP themes are tested extensively, eliminating bugs. That may not always be the case with premium and free themes.
Premade themes can come with many issues. For example, it could be incompatible with the plugins you desire, making your site impossible to operate.
As a result, you need professional support.
Furthermore, others who have the same theme as you could be experiencing the same issues and you’d have to wait longer for the problem to be resolved. On the other hand, a custom theme offers high-quality support instantly.
You’ll always have a developer at your service — and they’ll be ready to make changes to help you resolve issues quickly.
If these reasons have convinced you to customize your WordPress theme, follow these tips below for best practices.
You should only edit the code if you understand Cascading Style Sheets and Hypertext Preprocessor. However, if you’re unsure how to edit code safely, you can utilize the Customizer. This method will ensure you don’t break anything on your website.
A customized WordPress theme that isn’t responsive can have a negative impact on usability — decreasing your conversion rates and search engine rankings. Any changes you make on your desktop version should also work on mobile applications.
More people access the internet via smartphones, so your theme must work for mobile users. Ensure you adjust the layout to different screen sizes and test them to see how they look.
You can access free staging sites to test your customized theme before activating its latest version. This will ensure everything is working properly before pushing your changes over to your live site.
Here are the steps to take to customize your WordPress theme.
Take note that some themes are more customizable than others. Some may require additional code or customization through plugins, while others will completely overhaul your WordPress interface. Some of the best customizable themes include:
Plugins allow you to boost your website’s functionality — such as site performance, design elements and SEO. You can always change the website yourself, but plugins can offer various changes. Plus, they’re easier to implement and are less likely to break your site.
The easiest way to customize your WordPress theme is through the Customizer. This tool allows administrators to change the basics of their theme without touching the CSS.
You can access the Customizer in your WordPress dashboard by choosing Appearance > Customize. Once you’re there, you’ll see a list of aspects of your theme that can be changed. It will display real-time previews of the changes on the right side of the screen.
You can do a lot with the Customizer, but you have more control over your theme’s appearance when editing the code. This approach isn’t the best for beginners, but it’s the preferred method for experienced WordPress users.
You can access the CSS through the Customizer to update your theme or you can edit the files directly. Just remember to create a child theme to test the functions when you make changes.
Some people may object to a custom WordPress theme as it can be more expensive than a premade version. However, if you have the budget to customize one, every dollar you pay will be an investment for your business. Furthermore, you will always have the latest features, and your visitors will enjoy using it since it will load fast and be more secure. Customization is well worth the time and effort.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. She was the creative director at a digital marketing agency before becoming a full-time freelance designer. Eleanor lives in Philly with her husband and pup, Bear.