Choosing to build your own custom WordPress theme is a challenging task that involves time, patience and dedication. The journey may not be an easy one, as there will be many setbacks if you do not learn from others mistakes. First of all, there are plenty advantages in custom WordPress design, the main one being you get to have a WordPress theme with everything you need and want in it. Still, there are important steps that need to be learned and walked through in order to create a perfectly functional theme.
1. Avoid Mistakes Done by Others
This is the most important step in custom WordPress design. Learning from the mistakes of others will get you a long way, by teaching you how to do things the right way.
- Not Using a child theme
Getting a theme and starting to mess around with it is not the way. It seems easy, but all the hard work will disappear once an update is available for the original theme. This is why creating a child theme is the most important step in your design.
- Ignoring WordPress Recommendations
The reason why WordPress is chosen by thousands of programmers for custom theming is that it provides plenty of information to read and use to get the work done easily and fast. The highest valued and wise thing to do is enqueueing scripts. The reason why using the wp_enqueue_script function is essential is to avoid any conflict between your themes and plugins and WordPress itself .
- Getting Caught In The Details
Every theme has its advantages and most of them look great. But the essential thing is to choose the right theme for you. If you want to create a news theme, don’t choose a simple, linear blog one. Understanding your needs is crucial if you want to be successful. Also, while choosing a theme, make sure to see what customizable options are already built in; it will make your work easier.
- Not Cross Browser Testing
An elementary mistake most beginner Wordrpress custom theme developers do is not to verify if their theme works on every available browser. Sure, Chrome will accept almost anything, but don’t forget Firefox, IE, Opera, Safari and mobile browser versions. Browserstack.com is a great resource to verify if your theme works properly, without having to install all the browsers on your computer or ask all your friends to borrow their Smartphones.
2. Installing WordPress
After reviewing all the mistakes others have done in the past and shared generously, it is important to install WordPress on your computer. The main advantage is that this will allow you to work on your theme even if you do not have internet connection at some point. And since custom WordPress design can take a lot of time and probably many failed attempts until you get it right, this feature will be quite useful. The available local servers that work the best on your PC or Mac are XAMPP (Windows & Mac), WAMP (Windows) and MAMP (Mac).
3. Choosing a Theme Layout
A more comprehensive overview on choosing the right theme layout is necessary.. A simple google search will show hundreds of themes, some free, some that come with a price tag. The main advantage of free themes is, well…they are free. But customer service can be quite low and theme documentation often lacks. Paid themes need investing, but they are developed with more attention to detail and proper functioning, the documentation is well written and customer service is prompt and often available round the clock.
4. Do Your Reading
Even if you are eager to start coding as soon as possible, a proper research must be done prior to writing the first line of command. Tutorials and ebooks are available online, most of them for free, some for a small price. “How to be a Rockstar WordPress Designer” and Digging into WordPress” are great resources before starting WordPress custom theming. Another very useful resource would be attempt WordCamp.The cost is significantly low to what you can learn from the conference, and you might even be noticed by some successful companies that could recruit you.
5. The Loop
Any content added to your website will be done through the loop”. It is important to understand how it works in order to add content successfully to your site. From templates to plugins, you will need it, so make sure you understand it before you start programming.
6. Custom Post Types and Custom Fields
These two elements are essential, and if you want to make your life easier you can choose plugins. Still, this is not the best solution if you want complete reliability.
7. Editing Website Changes
Built-in browser CSS tools are a great advantage. Even if in the past Firebug was a good option, Chrome is now available, with real-time change preview, in order for you to decide if your changes look and work properly. Still, after you have decided what changes you want to make, editing and uploading them is the next step. You have a few options to choose from:
- WordPress Appearance Editor
A good option, but unwise for long term. Remember at all times to activate your child theme, so you don’t make the changes in the parent theme. Login into your admin section and choose Editor from the Appearance menu. Pick your child theme’s stylesheet and make any modification you want.
After you’re done making all the changes to your files and folders, you can upload them via FTP and overwrite the old version. You can use FileZilla, which is available for Windows, Mac OS X and GNU/Linux .
Remember that creating a custom WordPress theme involves documentation, choosing the right parent theme, creating a child theme that will help the creative process and not ruin the hard work of the original creator. Do not avoid plugins and scripts made by others, but try to stay true to your vision, as it is your own WordPress custom theming journey. Do not forget to choose the best editing and uploading method that works for you.
Growing from an HTML or CSS programmer to a WordPress custom design can be a challenging journey, but with enough patience and dedication you can master all the secrets of custom WordPress theming. Just make sure to read as much as you can and learn heard. Try multiple options and don’t give up when things go wrong.