Three Tips When Modifying your WordPress Theme

While I urge clients to focus on content before looks, questions about WordPress themes are those I hear most often. The methods for how to interact with them has evolved over the years. Today I’ll discuss three ways you can work with your theme to tweak or completely change how your site looks. These advancements make me happy, they provide clients control over their website technology and free me to focus on more challenging (and exciting) issues.

One – The Customizer and Live Preview

I’ve written about it, and more frameworks are merging their configurations here. Perhaps the biggest one right now is that Genesis 2.6 has brought more settings into this panel. The live preview is wonderful, it allows you to make small changes without worrying that you either need a development setup or that your visitors will see things that aren’t quite ready.

WordPress Customizer Panel, "hide controls" highlightedBe aware, that the settings sidebar may rearrange elements of your site depending on the screen width available. When I make edits on my laptop, websites often bump into responsive views (more on them in tip three) and look different when previewed on my desktop. There’s lots I can write about that, a quick fix is to hide the controls, you can do that at the bottom of the customizer preview. It leaves the little arrow at the bottom of the screen to toggle the settings back.

Two – Widget Live Preview

Did I mention how wonderful the live preview is? If you aren’t seeing a particular widget section to edit and it’s available when you edit as Appearance > Widgets, click around to change your preview page. The theme may be configured to display them only on certain pages or posts.

Three – Test differences

WordPress Customizer Panel, "browser type desktop, tablet, mobile" highlightedBetween differences in how browsers choose to display new and emerging standards and the mobile devices available, your site may not display the same for everyone. I recommend clients pay attention to stats for how visitors are viewing the site to make sure it’s meeting their needs. It’s easy and quick to have a rough idea by checking your site’s responsiveness in the customizer.

And as always before making changes: backup, backup, backup!