Adding Your Touch to a WordPress Theme

wordpress-logo-notext-rgbPre-made WordPress themes make it easy to have a great-looking site that fits your specific needs. But most of us would like our site to look and feel at least a little unique. Here are a few easy ways you can add your own touch to a WordPress theme, so your site is truly your own. 

Change the background image

By simply changing the background image, you can change the feel of your site. A plain white may show a clean/minimal feel, but a soft pattern may give it a warm feeling. You can choose any color from the color picker under Appearance → Background. You can also choose to use an image. Once you have chosen an image you can choose to repeat the image (if it is smaller) or center the image (for larger images). Changing the background on even a default theme adds a lot of character to a site.

Change/add a header image

Most themes support the use of a custom header image. First you should check what the recommended size for the image is. You can find this in the admin under Appearance → Header. Then find an image you would like to use on your site; this works best if the image you find is larger than the recommended size. It is easy to scale down but you lose quality if you must scale up. You can use an online tool such as pixlr.com to resize and crop image to get it to the right size. Many people will add their logo to the header or other important pieces of information. You can get creative and make the image compliment your theme.

Changing a few colors

If you like the layout of your theme but want to change the colors, you can do so using CSS. The best way I recommend to do this is using Jetpack and the Custom CSS feature. This will allow you to add some addition selectors and rules. By changing the CSS you can make the theme resemble your brand colors or just colors you like more than the defaults. When changing CSS, note that you never want to do it in the main theme files. If you do, when that theme updates, all your changes will be lost. This is one reason I recommend using Jetpack to customize the CSS, not to mention a lot of other cool functionality that Jetpack offers.

If you want more

So, you’ve found a theme that almost does it, but you have some layout changes to make in addition to colors, backgrounds, and header images. You should look into creating a child theme. This allows you to make changes to the theme without losing the changes on update. It is slightly more complicated than most things you can do from within the admin UI. You will have to have a knowledge of CSS, HTML and some PHP. To learn more about child theming read this article in the WordPress Codex.

If you’ve changed too much

Technically, you cannot really change too much, but if you can tell you are changing almost every aspect of the original theme you found, you should probably consider looking into other options. You can look for another theme with a layout that works better for you, then look into the options above again. You can also look into creating your own custom theme; I recommend starting with the _s (underscores) theme. This theme comes with basic markup and is made to be altered, no child theme needed. You can generate your own starter theme at underscores.me.

 

What are some things you like to do that make your WordPress site unique? Leave us a comment below!