When you decide to choose a theme for your blog, you have another decision to make as well. Will you use the pre-designed themes by the platform you have chosen, or will you create something unique to you? Take WordPress for example. Once you log on and create a profile, there are a handful of display options. The colors, fonts, and layout are predetermined, but you have the flexibility to insert specific pictures or logos. Is that what you really want? A cookie-cutter blog that looks the same as half a million other blogs out there? With so many blogs available at the click of a button, by creating your own custom theme, you will be able to make your blog stand out from the rest. Not sure how to approach such a task? Check out some helpful tips below that require minimal coding experience to create a custom theme.
PHP Codes and Zip Files
The benefit of the internet is that there are people out there who know things you do not. If you are like me, you have very little knowledge of computer programming. But, you can search around for some great articles that provide you with all the PHP coding you need to personalize your blog. PHP code is a type of programming language used by sites like WordPress. When you download files containing PHP code, you will have to unzip them to have access to the folders containing PHP codes specific to things like headers, comment sections, and the style file that will be used most during this process.
- After downloading and reviewing all the provided PHP codes, log on to WordPress and find the appearance tab, which should be located in the left-hand menu.
- Under Appearance, there will be a “Themes” option for you to click.
- A menu bar with two tabs will appear at the top of the page; choose “Install Themes” from here.
- Click Upload link and choose the PHP code file you downloaded earlier. After selecting this file, click “Install Now”.
- After the installation is complete, go back to the Themes tab and you should see a theme called “Blank”. Once you find it, click the activate link.
With your blank theme installed, you are ready to start customizing your blog. If you have not already added content to your blog, create sample content so you can see your designs as you create them. Also, if you would like some design or marketing ideas for your blog, it may help to research a Web Design company or two and see what type of options are available.
The best way to create your own theme for your blog is to design a layout for yourself. You can do this in a number of ways, and depending on how talented you are, you could even create something on your own, without enlisting a web designer. More often than not, however, it’s a good idea to create your own theme and then hand it over to a designer to make your vision come true. If you are going to be handing off the design to someone else, then you don’t need to spend hours on it.
Regardless of your experience with CSS — or any code for that matter — you need a style before you can even begin to start. Creating a style in PhotoShop can be a great place to start and it can really help you realize your vision for your site. Another route to take is to build a portfolio of examples that you like; this way, you can show your designer some great examples to guide them in the right direction.
This is the main CSS file that you will need to modify if you’re looking to go at it on your own. If you don’t know much about CSS code, or anything HTML related, then you should stop here. Finding someone better qualified to create your theme is best if you don’t feel comfortable or don’t have the knowledge to do so. If you are looking to edit this file yourself, then read on.
You should have already installed the blank theme on your site. Now, it is time to edit it to create something a little more appealing. You can either open styles.css up on your computer or simply navigate to the Appearance part of WordPress and head to the Editor. Select styles.css from there.
The styles.css will have lots of different sections to it. Each one of these sections changes the corresponding look on your website. The LifeHacker guide we linked to above tells you the basics of how to change the look of the theme through CSS. However, for something more advanced, you can find many helpful videos on YouTube, which will tell you a whole lot about CSS and theming.
Test and Refine
Once you have made your changes to the styles.css file, it is important to test things out to make sure that you haven’t broken anything. Sometimes, nothing looks the way that it ought to. That’s fine, though! Everyone has to start somewhere and this is a good start. Testing will let you see what doesn’t look good, what looks terrible and what is just right. From there, you can move on to refining the theme and making sure all of your code lines up just the way it should.
You should continue to refine your theme until it looks just right. It might be time consuming as well as stressful. However, creating your own theme for your site can be very rewarding, so give it a go!
Do you have any advice on creating a theme? Share it in the comments below!