Options for Customizing a Theme
Before we dive in and start making changes to your theme, it pays to understand what the options are, as they suit different situations.
Here’s an overview of the options available to you:
- If you want to add functionality to your theme, install a plugin.
- Use the Customizer in your WordPress admin screens to customize fonts, colors and maybe layout too, depending on your theme.
- If you’re working with a page builder theme, use its features to customize the design of your site.
- If you’ve installed a framework theme, use one of the available child themes to customize your site, along with any customization options viable own the admin screens.
- If your theme is specific to your site and you’re comfortable doing it, edit the theme’s code directly.
- If you want to edit the code of a third-party theme, create a child theme.
If you want to edit the code, you have a number of options available to you, from using the block editor, to the Customizer, right through to editing the files. We’ll look at them all in this post, but let’s start with the simplest option: installing a plugin.
How do plugins work?
The idea behind plugins is simple:
Developers create small pieces of software and add them to computer programs, mobile applications, or websites to improve functionality. A plugin can accomplish this without significantly increasing resource use or compelling primary software developers to offer ongoing plugin support.
Instead, plugins make use of publicly-available code structures that allow them to interface with existing software tools. In effect, this code allows them to speak the same language. Plugins can request specific resources or actions from software systems at large, allowing them to deliver targeted functionality for users.
Plugins must also strike a balance between security and accessibility. This is especially true when using plugins for business applications on corporate networks or when improving consumer website accessibility.
Plugins are also critical to help streamline website form and function. With a host of plugins to help site owners do everything from creating and distributing marketing emails to personalizing user content and analyzing traffic data, plugins offer key functionality without the need to worry about specific software restrictions or operational conflicts that could take websites offline.