How to Customize WordPress Theme Frameworks

By Lisa Sabin-Wilson

You may find that you’re changing the same elements every time you set up a website by using a WordPress theme framework. Here is a list of where to start when customizing a theme framework for a website:

  • Add a custom header or logo image. Adding a nice header graphic to a site makes it look unique from the beginning. If graphics aren’t your specialty, use a good designer for your header graphic. This crucial element will catch your visitors’ eyes as soon as they hit the page.
  • Change the colors of the background and links to match the header and branding of the site. Many frameworks provide a simple interface for this task; others require you to open the style.css file to change the color. Either way, changing the background and link colors to match the site adds cohesiveness throughout the branding of the site.
  • Consider the home page layout. This consideration is based on what the site is trying to achieve. If you want the site to focus on the blog, for example, you might place it on the front page with a left or right sidebar. If your site is more static, you might create a layout with many widget areas on the home page that display things from around the site. The home page is the landing point for many of your site’s visitors, so it’s important to consider its layout early in the process.
  • Decide how to lay out the inside pages and blog post pages. These pages are just as important as the home page. The form and function of the page and blog post layouts need to be well planned to accommodate the parts of the site that you want every user to see, such as ads on the sidebar or an email newsletter sign-up form at the bottom of every post. In the case of pages, you might include information about your products and services in the sidebars and feature areas.
  • Add a contact form to the site. Don’t overlook installing one of those vital items on almost every site. Some frameworks offer built-in contact forms that you can add to any page.

If your theme framework doesn’t offer a built-in contact form, many free plugins include this functionality, including Contact Form 7. If you’re looking for a more robust form plugin, Gravity Forms by Rocket Genius is one of the best form-creation plugins. It’s a premium plugin but, at $39 per year, well worth the price.