Customizing a template

What is a template and how can you customize one?

Perhaps the best explanation is a visual one. For example, here is what the WordPress template “Twenty Eleven” looks like as a default:

twenty eleven default

With a self-hosted WordPress.org site and some knowledge of code, you can change just about anything you want. Without one or both of those, however, you’re limited to a handful of changes, and how many varies from one template design to the next. Here is what Twenty Eleven looked like after my first go-round of exploring this as the basis for my website:

my first WP site

All that’s been changed here is the header image, background image, and accent color. Oh, and the sidebar. You can see how changing these few simple things creates a look very distinctive from the first.

After a bit of time living with that design, however, I decided it was too dark, and that I wanted a happier look. Again, just changing the same items as above, I arrived at something considerably different:

my second WP site

It does require some knowledge of image manipulation, cropping and sizing to do this, but it doesn’t require any coding whatsoever.

One thing that cannot be changed on this template is the font. At least, not without springing for the $30 per year “custom design” upgrade. I may spring for that, though, because while I respect Helvetica, it’s really not my thing. Done! And updated the design, yet again.

Pretty much all WordPress templates allow you to change the header image and the background image. Most allow you to tweak the accent color: some let you dictate any color you wish, while others limit you to a few options. Some allow you to radically change the way the front page is laid out, making use of featured posts, slide shows, gallery images, and more. In choosing the right template for you, it’s really important to decide up front which functions or design features are most important to you, and search for a template that meets your needs.

Need help? Contact me!

See my WordPress theme reviews.

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