Over the last year, we’ve set out to build the best, most easy-to-use WordPress themes on the planet. And with each theme we think through and include easy ways for you to customize your theme — tools that allow you to make it uniquely your own.
So that after you’ve done some of these quick details, it has a look and feel that reflects you and your businesses’ distinct personality. But until now, we’ve never done a tutorial (that I know of) to really show off some simple ways you can customize your site.
So I thought I’d offer a couple of easy ideas to do that … here they are:
1. GRAPHIC HEADERS
The easiest customization you can do to a theme is to design a custom header image for your client. This is perhaps the best (and most affordable) way your client’s site can set itself apart from one site to another.
Using Photoshop and great images from iStockPhoto, you can do a lot of things with just the header image for your client.
Ideas to include in a graphic header:
- Profile photo of the main person — this is great for personal/professional blogs, real estate agents, politicians and other professionals wanting to put a personal touch on their site
- Stylized text of the business name; or else a logo — this simple little technique can really personalize a site … take some time and find the appropriate font style and color that fits the business or site best
- Taglines or company slogan — using stylized text, place the slogan in an appropriate place in the header that builds a unique look
- Contact information, like phone, email — a website can be a 24/7 business card or brochure, so be sure the most prominent action your client wants is front and center in the graphic. If they are a retail store, then they may want the phone number and location prominent.
- Background images — again, iStockPhoto is loaded with great abstract background images and pattersn. Search for graphics that are associated in your client’s field or industry (i.e. if you’re building a bank, how about images of money, graphics, etc)
Because the header image is a super easy way to customize themes, we’ve included the Custom Header Uploader script into our most popular themes, so all you have to do is save your image to your desktop, then use this script to easily upload and install it on your site.
Check out a demonstration of the Custom Image Uploader Images script that is included in all of our most popular themes.
2. SIDEBARS AND FEATURE AREAS
The WordPress Widgets feature make it extremely easy to put fresh, new content in your theme’s sidebar and feature areas.
To access your theme’s Widgets, in WordPress, go to Appearance / Widgets … then find the area you want to add text to.
You want to take full advantage of your sidebars as they are important marketing real estate on your site. So be sure to display your most important actions and items.
Here are some ideas for things you can add in your sidebars:
- Contact Information — give customer all the details for contacting you
- Business Hours — tell them when you’re open
- Driving Directions — link to Google Maps of your business
- Highlight Products / Services — iThemes uses our sidebars to feature our best themes and packages of interest
- Email Newsletter subscriptions — put your subscription form right in the sidebar and ask people to join
- Display Social Media icons — show off your web 2.0 savvy by linking to your profiles on hot social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter
- Recent Posts — if you’re blogging regularly, be sure to drive traffic to your blog posts; this also helps keep your readers on your site longer
For more information on widgets, check out our How to Use WordPress Widgets video tutorial here
3. FEATURED IMAGES
We’ve included our Featured Images script — which lets you display a Flash-like, rotating images slideshow — into our most popular themes.
This feature is used in the header and home page feature photo areas on most themes.
The Featured Images script can be used in various ways, but here are the two most common:
- Display advertising messages — Use the Featured Images script to display our key marketing messages like special coupons, upcoming deals, or you could also use it to explain features and benefits of your products.
- Recent photos of events, activities — If you’re an organization like a church, you could use the Featured Images script to display a photo gallery of your recent event. Politicians could use it to show off photos of them on the campaign trail.
Check out a demonstration of our Featured Images script that is included in all of our most popular themes.
4. BACKGROUND IMAGES
Effective use of background images can be a great way to put an extra touch on your website or blog. But because on some people still have smaller monitors your readers might not always see beyond your actual website to get a glimpse of your background images. So we’ve put this further down the list.
You can use background images in numerous ways to set off the look of your main website. The possibilities are almost endless.
You can repeat your background images or patterns — horizontally and/or vertically — across the browser screen. You can use fades and gradients at the top of your side, or fix them to the side.
In several of our latest themes, in particular our FlexxTheme, we’ve included a Background Uploader feature, where you can upload your graphic easily and set the CSS properties with a dropdown menu.
Check out demonstration of the Background Uploader in FlexxTheme here or learn more about CSS Background properties here
5. CUSTOM FAVICON
Favicons are those little icons that display next to your web address in a web browser. It’s just some extra “bling” that adds a nice visual presentation to your site.
If it looks good, we suggest cropping your logo, or using your main color, to become the favicon.
- Crop your image to 16×16 pixels or 32x32pixels at 72dpi
- Save as a GIF
- Upload to your theme’s image folder
- If your theme doesn’t have the favicon code. Place this code in your header.php file, somewhere near where the stylesheet is called
- Refresh your site and you should see the favicon.
Here are some other resources for creating favicons: