Customizing WordPress Themes

Tweaking a basic WordPress theme to your own custom theme will be the focus of an upcoming WordPress workshop on Maui

One of the reasons WordPress is such a popular website publishing tool is that it makes it easy for people to create a website without having to know how to code. People can create basic websites without having to know a single bit of html, CSS or PHP code. But what if you want to customize a theme or create a custom home page or add a featured content slider on the home page? To really maximize the power of WordPress and customize things you’ll find that you need to dig in and get your hands dirty with some code. Going beyond the basics in WordPress; learning how to customize and tweak themes and template files will be the topic of an upcoming WordPress workshop here on Maui later this summer.

WordPress 201 Workshop: Going Beyond the Basics in WordPress

Workshop Objectives

Learn how to customize and tweak a theme

Get comfortable finding and configuring plugins


How WordPress works – basic overview of database, directory structure and files

Tools – text editors, FTP software, Firebug

FTP access to WordPress install

Using a good text editor

Manual/FTP installation of WordPress

Manual/FTP installation of plugins – cformsII

Very basic HTML, CSS and PHP

Tweaking themes by editing the stylesheet and the php files

Child themes – what is a child theme, relationship to parent theme

Essential Plugins for extra functionality, security and optimization

Custom home page

Page Templates

Format: Website Makeover

To cover these topics, I’m going to lead an exercise in making over a fictitious website, starting with the standard WordPress 3.0 theme, Twenty Ten and customizing it using a child theme. We’ll go from this:

Before customization

And we’ll customize and tweak the theme to:

  • Widen it
  • Change colors
  • Create custom home.php file and use for home page
  • Add Featured Content Slider on home page
  • Style custom home page
  • Widen sidebar
  • If home page, put something at the top of the sidebar, else not
  • Create custom wide page template with no sidebar for photo gallery
  • Customize main menu
  • Add a photo gallery
  • Add a detailed contact form
  • Install & Configure SEO Plugins
  • Set up a WP eCommerce store to sell products – if time available

And the end result will look something like this:

After customization

Does this look like something you’d be interested in learning? I don’t have a firm date scheduled yet for this workshop, but it will likely be the end of July or early August. If you’d like to attend, keep an eye on the following for announcements:

Maui WordPress on Facebook

Digital Splash Media on Facebook