Best Website to Learn WordPress Theme Development
WordPress is undoubtedly the world’s most popular content management system. Perhaps you’ve heard of it?
Whether you’re a seasoned WordPress developer or just learning the ropes, you’ll eventually need to build your own themes. But before you start designing your own themes, you’ll want to brush up on your coding skills. Fortunately, there’s an excellent resource available to help you master the art of building themes for WordPress. And it’s free!
The wonderful folks at WordPress themselves have put together a site just for learning the ropes of building themes. That site is WordPress Theme Forge. On it, you’ll discover thorough documentation for every aspect of WordPress theme development. And it’s all free!
What makes this particular resource so special is that it enables you to build themes using the tools and skills that WordPress itself provides. This means that you’ll not only be developing themes according to the formalities set by WordPress, but you’ll also be applying the concepts and design styles that power the WordPress platform itself.
And if you’re a fresh WordPress user with no previous experience whatsoever, you’ll likely find that WordPress Theme Forge is the ideal place to learn how to code and build a WordPress theme. In this tutorial, we’ll guide you step-by-step through the process of building your first WordPress theme, from design to code.
What Is A WordPress Theme?
A WordPress theme is basically a set of files that design a website’s “skin” or look and feel. When a user visits your website and sees the theme’s design, they’ll experience your site the way you intend for them to.
While it’s true that themes help establish a website’s overall look and feel, they also enable you to add more substance to your pages. For example, you might want to add a bit more personality to your blog by applying a theme with a blog-specific design.
In addition to establishing the look and feel of your site, themes also give you the opportunity to add content in the form of widgets (small text boxes that reside on a blog post or sidebar), HTML, and CSS code.
WordPress themes are built according to a set of formalities that enable you to build a functional website. These set of guidelines are found in the WordPress manual, which you can access from the WordPress Theme Forge main menu. They detail how themes should be structured, what kind of information should be included in the theme’s header, how to create a widget-rich sidebar, more.
Why Should You Build A WordPress Theme?
If you’re looking to build a WordPress theme, you’ll most likely already have a reason in mind.
For example, maybe you want to add a bit more style to your blog or website? Maybe you want to create a one-of-a-kind gift shop that only sells products related to your niche?
Whatever your reasons for wanting to create a theme, WordPress offers some wonderful tools that enable you to build exactly what you need, with no code required.
Building a WordPress theme gives you the opportunity to practice a variety of skills, including HTML, CSS, and more. In addition, you’ll get to peek into the inner workings of the WordPress platform, which can only serve to round out your knowledge base.
WordPress also makes it incredibly easy to update themes, should you want to add more features or fix any bugs. This is especially valuable in the event that you discover one after having completed the tutorial (and before the end of the year!).
The Steps To Building A WordPress Theme
Now, let’s get down to business. To start things off, you’ll need to head over to WordPress Theme Forge, where you’ll learn how to use their drag-and-drop style builder.
The drag-and-drop style builder is incredibly easy to use. Simply click the “Design” icon at the top of the page and you’ll be brought to a brand-new blank page, where you can start designing your theme. Here, you can add a header, sidebar, and footer to the design canvas.
In addition to the standard design elements (header, footer, and sidebars), you’ll want to include a featured image in your header. To add a featured image to your header, click the “Add media” button and then choose “Image” from the presented gallery.
A great way to add more personality to your site is by applying a background image to the page. To do this, click on the page’s thumbnail in the preview panel and select the image you’d like to use from the large attached image gallery. Once you’ve selected the image, you can click “Insert” to add it to the page.
For the featured image in your header, you can choose to leave it unscaled or scale it down from the original dimensions. In addition, you can also add a border around the image to give it more impact.
Aside from adding a background image and a featured image to your design, you can also apply a color scheme and layout to the page. For instance, you can use this feature to style your sidebar and the main content area of your site, should you choose. You can also choose to apply a dark or light color scheme to all or part of your site, making it easier for users to navigate your content.
Header, Footer, And Sidebar Are Your Three Basic Elements
While it’s possible to create a functional website without applying a theme, doing so is a bit of a hassle. Fortunately, WordPress makes it incredibly easy to apply a theme to your site. In fact, the above steps will get you fully configured with a blank slate, ready to start building your theme. From there, all you need to do is add content to it and style it with CSS.
To add more content to your theme, you’ll need to log back in to your WordPress account. Once you’ve re-logged in, you can click on the “Add content” button at the top of the dashboard. From there, you can add a header, footer, or a combination of both.
For headers and footers, the best combination is 3 columns for a desktop and 2 columns for a mobile version. To create a 3-column-desktop layout, simply add 3 divs, each with the class “col-l-x” where “x” is a number in the 3-digit range. To create a 2-column-mobile layout, simply add 2 divs with the class “col-l-x” where “x” is a number in the 2-digit range.
To style your header, click on the “Appearance’ tab at the top of the dashboard. From there, you can click on the “Layout” icon and choose to apply one of the pre-made templates, or you can opt for a blank slate and start building from scratch.
To style your footer, click on the “Appearance’ tab at the top of the dashboard. From there, you can click on the “Layout’ icon and choose to apply one of the pre-made templates, or you can opt for a blank slate and start building from scratch.
As mentioned, the above steps will get you fully configured with a theme designed and ready to go. From there, all you need to do is add more functionality to it and style it with CSS. To add more functionality, you can browse through the WordPress menu system and add a gallery, calculator, or charts, for instance.
Custom CSS To Style Your Theme
As mentioned, the above steps will get you fully configured with a theme designed and ready to go. From there, all you need to do is style it with CSS. To do this, you’ll want to navigate to the theme’s “Style.css” file and begin adding your own custom styles. To see an example of how a style sheet works, take a look at the documentation for the TwentyFourteen WordPress theme by Michael Hart.
The best way to learn how to style a theme is by inspecting the source code of a live product. While it’s true that you can learn a lot from the documentation, taking the time to really look at how a theme is built will give you a much better understanding of how styles work together, and how each element ties into the bigger picture.