How to customize your WordPress theme's look

February 1, 2023
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There are a few ways in which you can customize the look of your theme. First of all, there's the WordPress Customizer. The Customizer is found in the site admin's left menu in Appearance > Customize and it, depending on your theme, allows you to change colors, widgets and other options. Secondly, framework type themes like Divi along with page builders allow for extended customizations. Framework themes and page builders allow you to fine tune design elements. Lastly, you can customize with a child theme. A child theme has all the functions of its parent theme but has the capability of adding new functions and its own CSS and JS files. As a note, you can also combine the methods above for even more control over your site's design.

Customize with the WordPress Customizer

The customizer generally offers the fewest customization choices but it is also the easiest and simplest to use. Some themes have only a few customization options while some themes have quite a few options. The Avada theme options in the example image has only a few options like Site Identity and Colors. If you don't need to fine things beyond what your customizer offers then you can get by without using theme framework options, a child theme or page builder options. If you need more, look over the options below.

Customize with the Theme Framework/Page Builder Option Settings

A theme framework such as Divi or Genesis includes the basic building blocks of a layout and design along with basic theme functions. It is highly customizable because its many options set design details globally throughout the site or individually on separate pages and design elements. Using these options gives you the ability, especially in combination with a page builder, to take the basic theme and pretty much change it however you want. But since there are so many options and ways to combine those options, using a framework takes longer to learn and requires a greater understanding of design elements than the standard WordPress Customizer.

A page builder does just as the name says, you build your pages with it. But you can use it for your posts too. Page builders differ from the default WordPress block editor in that page builders have many more design customization features and elements. Some frameworks have their own page builder like ThemeCo, Divi or Avada. Others, like Elementor or BeaverBuilder, are stand alone. Page builders supply many different design elements which can be used throughout your site and allow you preview pages and post as you create them. Page builders generally have a degree of complexity and require a bit of time to get comfortable with. See our page builder page for more information.


Customize with a Child Theme

A child theme is a theme which uses the design and elements of another theme called the parent. You can then edit CSS, JS and templates in the child theme without touching any of the files in the parent theme. That way, when the parent theme gets an update, only the parent's files are changed - not the child theme's files - and you don't loose your customizations. The CSS, JS and template files you place in the child theme are only updated by you manually. Those files generally override the parent theme files. Further, with a child theme you can extend or alter the functionality of the parent by using the child's functions.php file.

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