There are a number of DIY website builders available today. We aren’t going to compare different platforms. Instead we will help you learn how to make your WordPress website your own. With a bit of knowledge, you can customize your WordPress theme and fearlessly manage WordPress updates.
If you’re like a lot of our WordPress Intensive workshop students, you’ve come to WordPress from the non-geeky side of the web. In other words, you really don’t feel very comfortable with “code.” You’re a small business owner or a marketer in a company and you want to handle your online marketing but you’re still a bit unsure about doing theme or plugin updates or customizations to WordPress.
Grab a cup of coffee (okay maybe a pot) and get ready to [be your own geek].
DIY WordPress Design & Maintenance crash course
If you invest some time you can learn how to customize and maintain WordPress yourself. Start here…
- Begin by learning basic HTML & CSS and how to use the Text Editor within WordPress. When you dip your toe into code you’ll gain confidence in editing and managing your own WordPress site.
- Learn to connect to your WordPress files using FTP: Your WordPress files are on your server (host). With an FTP program you can copy those files down to your computer. When you copy your files, you have a backup. Now you can confidently edit and customize your WordPress theme — you know you have a backup in case something happens. And, when you learn to connect by FTP you will be able to restore your website if it gets stuck in maintenance mode or if WordPress breaks when updating
- Start with a Child Theme to make sure that changes you make are saved from future theme updates. The theme developer may have provided a child theme for you to use as your starting point. Check the theme author’s website or github profile.
- Discover how to Inspect Element — a web development tool in your browser. By adding Inspect Element to your toolkit, you’ll be able to see what elements in your WordPress theme or plugins you need to target with CSS styling.
- Open the style.css file with a program such as Dreamweaver or Komodo Edit. Use your new-found CSS skills to make styling changes and then, once you’ve edited the files, put them back on the server in the child theme folder.
You can learn a lot by reading the posts we’ve added here. But this may take a lot of your time. There is another alternative.