Technically our goal at Hexater was to build themes that you wouldn't need or want to customize. We thought if we designed them REALLY well, that you wouldn't have to touch that end of things. We were naive.
As we learned overtime, people can't help themselves. And often for good reasons. So let's dive into how a theme is typically customized.
Option 1 – Settings
There are several ways this can come into play.
The theme itself can provide settings. You might find these in the customizer; you'll find with Hexater themes we lean on the customizer a LOT to customize various aspects of a theme and it's content. Some themes might have their own admin area where you customize things.
You could find the settings inside a block. That could be a block the theme provides or through a plugin you installed.
If you're using a page builder, they will have settings inside their modules. Divi Builder, as an example, have modules, rows or sections. Each has a settings popup where you can fine tune everything.
So these are built-in, often custom ways to customize things.
Option 2 – The Customizers Additional CSS Panel
This is pretty straightforward. You should find this in every single customizer unless it was hidden for some reason.
You'll have to know or learn a bit of CSS, but this is where you can override theme styles across your website.
I would warn you though. This is only for ‘some' styles. Because of the design of the field, it can get really unruly if you put a LOT of your styles in here. I often will do it if there are just small tweaks or as a placeholder option until I have time to move them into the themes (or child themes) stylesheet.
Option 3 – The Child Theme
The child theme is amazing. You can really take things to the next level. It's awesome if you need even more control over your theme than you'd get with just simple CSS.
It allows you to override everything in your theme.. EVERYthing. Including templates, html, functions, JS etc..
You can learn how to setup a child theme here: Child Themes.
Once you have it setup, similar to the customizer's additional CSS you can now add any styles you want that will override the parent theme.
The idea here is you NEVER, ever, ever, ever.. want to directly edit your parent theme (or any plugin directly for that matter). You want to do all those things inside a child theme (btw, yes.. you can customize plugins from your child theme as well. Bonus tip for ya.).
The reason is all your changes would otherwise be overridden if a theme or plugin is updated.
However, one more note.. that doesn't mean you are 100% safe. Many times you are. You update a theme and you loose none of your changes. But there are edge cases. If a theme changes their CSS naming or methods, things could break. If you override a template a lot more could change and break things.
This is why it's always important to test your changes (especially major, sweeping changes) in a staging site first.
So No Excuses for Customizing Any WordPress Theme
As I noted in the intro we had a lot of conversations around what our themes would look like here in Hexater AND what our mission was — a big part of that was providing themes that looked pretty darn good out of the box.
But we also knew people needed to be able to customize certain aspects of the theme. These options saved the day.
So go out there! Learn some CSS.. learn how to create a child theme.. and you're well on your way to being a GREAT Do It Yourself'r.