Usually when people talk about custom branding, they’re either talking about hiring out to someone who’s going to design a full WordPress template for them or they just mean that they’re swapping their logo in for the generic one that came with a template they already have.
What few small business owners realize, however, is that there’s so much you can do yourself to get your template truly custom-looking without having to bring in a large number of artists and consultants. In general, it shouldn’t be too difficult to swap out some colors and widgets simply by going into the PHP files and switching around a handful of numbers.
That being said, you can also edit other individual PHP fields to create a look that nobody else is using online. Think about how different your current blog or eCommerce site might feel if it had just a few pixels more or less of padding. Chances are good that even a small change like this could shake things up substantially, especially when combined with new color combinations as well as any pictures that you might want to upload.
While you’ll want to make sure you’re working with a backup copy so you don’t mess up your existing template, take a few minutes to poke around inside of those otherwise mysterious files. You might be surprised at what you see.
Making Your Own Edits to PHP Recipes
In spite of what you might think, you don’t actually have to have much experience with PHP to edit WordPress templates. If you’ve worked with some basic HTML in the past, then you already have the skills needed to make simple alterations. Don’t change up anything you don’t understand, however, since it’s admittedly fairly easy to alter the overall flow of most WordPress templates despite the rather concrete way they’re designed.
All themes will automatically provide every PHP file that WordPress needs to define a template. Whenever you create a new post type, you’ll want to edit the fields inside of them. Tech-savvy users could theoretically also come up with entirely new ones if they so wished.
Many WordPress themes have very liberal licenses, which means that you’re free to edit them much as you would be free to fork pretty much any open-source project that you find in a repository. The big difference is that WordPress actually has a handful of tools designed to make this process easier.
Using a Plugin to Make Edits
It probably sounds strange to install a plugin on top of a template. You may even be trying to cut down on the number of WordPress plugins that you use, seeing as some people have far too many installed to begin with.
However, there are several options that allow you to create templates without the need for editing code and then give you the freedom to add blocks directly to the Gutenberg editor inside of WordPress.
By using this kind of technology, you can create content on the fly that’s both dynamic as well as designed specifically to fit your organization’s own branding. Spend some downtime experimenting and use a local copy of your WordPress directory so you can always fool around with new designs right on your SSD. Keeping a complete copy close to home can help alleviate any fears that you’ll cause long-term damage, so you’ll be able to make edits on a regular basis without concern.
Naturally, you’ll want to learn how to make a website and how to manage remote file structures before you ever give this a try. Even though the deployment of these apps is comparatively easier than trying to author PHP code the old fashioned way, that doesn’t mean you don’t want to get a handle on the basics before you start to incorporate the themes of your brand into your overall design.
Mastering the Basics of Good Design
When WYSIWYG desktop publishing technology first took the world by storm, countless computer users decided that they needed to use every font they had available when setting up their documents. The only reason they did so was because they weren’t used to having that many fonts there. Today, the same problem happens with the flood of colors and widgets you see on many custom branded WordPress sites.
Anyone who finds themselves dealing with information overload when it comes to visual options will want to remember minimalist design rules. Less is more, as the adage goes, so don’t feel the need to give everything the digital equivalent of a garish coat of paint.
The same rules apply for those working with Wix website products, since it’s easy to get carried away with such user-friendly technology. Rather than trying to shove every possible combination into your Wix designs, simply focus on something that’s subdued and represents your organization. For that matter, the same rules should more or less apply for those working with Joomla and other related content management packages.
Purging Out Unrelated & Old Assets
Whenever you adjust a template, you might find that there are a number of leftover assets sitting around from the original design matrix. If that’s the case, then you want to take them out. Anyone who has visited a site that has a logo of a previous owner is probably well-aware of the unusual look that this can create. You might want to consider incorporating the themes of any branded merchandise your team has come up with and then get rid of everything else.
At the same time, it’s a good idea to get rid of any old scripts or other materials that might have gotten dragged in as dependencies when you installed a few new templates. You don’t want to delete materials that you’re going to need later on, but it’s vital not to make things too bloated in your quest for visual perfection.
Most importantly, however, you don’t want to ever let perfect be the rival of done. There’s no such thing as the absolutely perfect WordPress template, so you shouldn’t feel compelled to continue trying to develop it. Instead, focus on trying to put a few unique twists into your current design and you should be able to come up with a great look that’s really unique to your specific organization.