How to Customize WordPress Theme

Customizer is a built-in WordPress feature that allows you to choose, modify and preview your theme before it goes live. The feature may look like a godsend if you still remember the times when you needed to actually code such things and there were no such user friendly and no-brainer options out there.

How to Find Customizer

Before we go any further, let’s see how to access the customizer feature in the first place. Once in your WordPress dashboard, you need to select Customize under Appearance. Another way to see the same customizer feature would be to go to Themes under Appearance and click the Customize option on the theme you’re currently using.


It Depends

Note that the exact options that you will be able to tweak to your heart’s content dramatically depend on the actual theme you’re using. That’s because it’s up to the theme’s developer to enable or disable all sorts of modification options that are available through your Customizer. So you really need to take my quick Customizer review with a grain of salt.

How it Works

At the very top of your Customizer, you can see a quick description of what the feature is capable of. What’s interesting is that you can navigate to any post or page within your site while you’re customizing your site’s appearance.

That allows to see how exactly your site will change in general once you publish the modification you have in mind.

Be Sure to Update

If you’re following the steps I describe here, you want to ensure that you’re using the most recent version of WordPress (it’s WordPress 4.2.4 at the time of the writing) because otherwise you will definitely see a few discrepancies. That’s because Customizer (just like WordPress itself) has a few interesting innovations in the pipeline at all times and is constantly improving.


Select Your Theme

For starters, the Active theme block of Customizer allows you to change the theme you’re about to modify. You can just click the Change button, scroll down to find and select your new theme. If you need to check theme details before selecting it, you can click the Theme Details button that you can easily find under every single theme in your scrolling sidebar.


Edit Site Title & Tagline

Now that you’ve selected your theme by clicking the Live Preview option, you can expand the Site Title & Tagline drop-down and specify the above-mentioned details. Other than that, you have the option to toggle on and off whether you want to show header text. With that done, you can either collapse your Site Title & Tagline drop-down or just move on to the next drop-down.


Modify Colors

The Colors option obviously makes it possible to select your color palette of choice. For example, you may be able to specify your site title color or background color. I say ‘may be’ because – just like I mentioned before – it really depends on what exactly WordPress theme you modify.


Change your Header Image

The Header Image features allows you to choose a background picture that you want to use for your blog. You’ll be able to both crop and resize your image after you upload it. Alternatively, you may want to resize your image and crop it with Photoshop while it’s on your hard drive. With that done, you can also upload it right to your WordPress dashboard and use with Customizer.


Background Swap

You may also be able to replace your background theme. If that’s the case, you can just click the Select image button and either choose your image from your Media Library or upload it via your Upload Files feature. That done, click the blue Choose Image button to finalize your modification.


Tackle Widgets

The widgets drop-down menu allows you to manage your WordPress widgets. You can rearrange their order, update content for them (such as updating titles, etc), remove or add new widgets. The exact available widgets depend on the theme you use and plugins you installed on your WordPress. Now let’s take a closer look at how exactly that works.

Having clicked the Widgets options from the main Customizer window, you should see the names of widget areas that your WordPress theme supports. For instance, Primary Sidebar, Content Sidebar, Footer Widget Area. There are some conventional guidelines for developers but it’s still absolutely up to them how to call their widget areas.

Now you want to click your widget area so that you can see what widgets are already active there. You can click a downward triangle icon on each widget to see what kind of values you can change. Once you’re done with your modifications, you can just collapse our widget settings panel and move on to the next one.

If you need to change the order of your widgets, you can just hit the Reorder button and use icons on the right-hand side of each widget to move your widget in a different widget area (for example, Primary Sidebar, Content Sidebar, Footer Widget Area) or just up or down within the same widgetized area. Once you’re happy with how it looks, you need to click Done.

In case you need to add a new widget to the current widget area, you should click the +Add a Widget button which will open up a list of available widgets to the right of your widgets panel. Now you can just select your widget and you’ll be prompted to give your newly created widget a title which is optional if that’s not something you’d like to do.

If you want to remove a certain widget, you just need to expand its drop-down menu and click Remove. Having that done, your WordPress preview will automatically refresh so that your can see how your site looks without the widget you just removed. From this point onwards you can just click the blue Save & Publish button at the top of your page so that your changes take effect.


Define What to Show First

To top it off, you also have the option to specify whether you want to display your latest blog posts or use a static page instead on your homepage. In order to do that, you just need to expand the Static Front Page option and tick either Your latest posts or A static page. The latter option allows you to select what page to use as Front page and where you want to display your blogs posts.

Bottom Line

All in all, the Customizer feature that comes built-in WordPress is a great tool for a quick site configuration. Though the toolset is not super huge, you still can benefit from using it because the feature doesn’t require any coding skills and you can quickly make sure that all things fall in place before you even turn to other customization options within your WordPress dashboard.