Tips & Tricks for Customizing a WordPress Theme

Inspect Element – Dev Tools

The Chrome Inspect Element function is instrimental in making these changes to your WordPress theme.

Let’s say for example, that you want to change the main header on the homepage of your WordPress theme – then right click and choose “Inspect Element”.

Then click on the arrow icon on the top left of the window that opens, and your arrow should automatically select whatever you hover over.



Use a Text Document To Track Changes

Copy and paste code that you want to make changes to.

Make your changes in your notepad document and add a comment so that you can easily identify what you have changed.



Paste Changes into the Appearance>Customize>Additional CSS window

Once you have selected your code from the text/notepad document, you can go to the WordPress admin section /wp-admin and the Appearance menu and then “Customize”, then near the bottom, you should be able to paste in your new CSS.




To Preview CSS Changes

In inspect element, click the “+” icon on the top right.

You can then add styles to different elements.

Be aware that you may need to edit the parent element, to see any changes (rather than the specific element)

CSS WordPress inspect



To Remove Elements on a Webpage

In CSS, if you change the “Display:” value to “none”, from inline-block etc.

display: none;

You’ll need to copy & paste the whole block of code from inspect element’s CSS window, into the Custom CSS menu’s window in WordPress’s (Appearance>Customize>Custom CSS)

The video below has more details on how to do this:




To Change the Colour of Elements

Use the same method as above – i.e. select the element with the inspect element tool.

  • Select the item that you want to choose using the arrow in the Inspect Element window (arrow is on top left)
  • Then change the colour using the panel on the right:
  • Finally, paste the new code for that element, into the Custom CSS window in WordPress (go to Appearance>Customize – wait for the Customize menu to load and then click either “Customize CSS” or “Additional CSS” which is normally located near the bottom left


Change the Colour of Font-Awesome Icons

This is easily done, the same way as shown above.

Select the icon, then change the colour in the CSS panel of inspect element on the right.

Select all the CSS in that window and then paste it into the Custom CSS/Additional CSS window on the left:

CSS WordPress inspect element



Changing the Fonts on Your WordPress Theme

Go to fonts.Google.com to see all the available fonts (well, most of them)

fonts.google.com

Open Inspect-Element – click the arrow on the top left of the window

Then, again just select the text that you want to change and this time change the font-family value to the one you want

font family

Remember to add all the code/CSS from the window precise window that you edit on the right, to the Customize/Additional CSS panel on the left.

Using this method you can also change:

Padding & Margins
Containers
Background Image, Position etc.
Sidebar




!Important

By adding !important to your CSS, you can ovveride all other rules relating to that element. Use this sparingly though as it will get confusing.

More info on !important here – https://css-tricks.com/when-using-important-is-the-right-choice/

CSS for WordPress

To follow along with this tutorial, please install and open Google Chrome, and then add the following extension (at your own risk etc. but I’m sure they’re fine):

  • Firebug for Chrome
    (or you can just use Developer tools by right-clicking on parts of your webpage and selecting “Inspect” or “Inspect Element” from the menu that appears – Firebug works well on Chrome on my desktop – but not on my Macbook)

To get used to using Firebug – open your website – or just go to a website of your choice.

Click the Firebug extension on the top right of your Google Chrome browser

Update – Using Dev Tools Inspect Element in Chrome is just as good.
Just remember to click the arrow icon on the top left of the window that appears, so that you can easily select individual elements.



Adding CSS to WordPress – Additional CSS

Most WordPress themes, have a “Customize” option, that contains a menu item called “Additional CSS”

Login – on the ‘header menu’ click Customize – then Click “additional CSS”

You can then paste your CSS directly into the box provided:

additional css wordpress

Note that if you add CSS to the box on one page – but it refers to an element that is on other pages – e.g. the main-menu – then this will be applied to all pages.

If you wanted to make a change to one page only – to a ‘global-element’ such as the main-menu – you would need to add a new class or id – by editing the HTML in the Theme Editor in the dashboard/wordpress.



Try Out Your New CSS in Inspect Element or Firebug

Once you right click and “Inspect” the CSS – you can edit it.

When you have made a change to the CSS in the Inspect-Window, copy it by highlighting it and holding CTRL + V

Open the “Additional CSS” menu item, then paste in the edited snippet of code

Paste CSS into the Additional CSS Box

Now that the above code has been added, and published, the Menu Items turn red when the mouse-cursor hovers over them:



Basics of CSS

The basic concept and idea of CSS is that you can style multiple items, with one piece of code.

So for example, rather than adding a colour to every header on your website – you could ‘tell your CSS stylesheet – to make every H1 a specific colour.

Although you can use “inline CSS” by adding it directly to the HTML – best practice is to add all of your CSS to a stylesheet, which is then linked to the HTML. This is done for you already in WordPress, via the “Additional CSS” box in the Customize menu and the Appearance menu in WP-admin, under Theme Editor.

CSS Selectors

Understanding how CSS works is directly linked to understanding the concept of ‘selectors’.

CSS selects a certain HTML tag, a class or an ID and then ‘tells the browser/HTML’ what style to apply.

HTML Tags are already predifined, examples include
– p (paragraphs)
– H1 (main headers)
– a (anchor text)

Classes and IDs are not predefined by any internet-standards such as W3. You can give a HTML tag a class or an ID – so that specific paragraphs or headers etc. can be styled and not others.

Image Source

Selecting IDs

A stylesheet must ‘select’ an element, ID or class, to change the style.

To select an ID

e.g.

<div id = “main-nav“>

The ID selector is preceded by a hash character (“#”) in the stylesheet:

#main-nav {
    background-color: #ccc;
    padding: 20px
}

Selecting Classes

In the CSS, a class selector is a name preceded by a full stop

.intro {
    color: red;
    font-weight: bold;
}

Universal Selectors

The asterix * is the “universal selector”

The below CSS would select all items and make their background colour yellow:

* {
    background-color: yellow;
}

A Few Examples of CSS

  • Make the text within the main headers (h1s) – coral:
h1 {
    color: coral;
}
  • Make the text within the class called “main” centred
.main { 
                text-align:center;  
            } 

CSS Animation

Animation in CSS, usually incorporates Keyframes.

The keyframes must then select an element, for example, this keyframe selector would determine the styles and/or rules for the element called “slidein”:

Step 1 – Configure the Animation

Style the element – a paragraph (p) in the example above.
You would style the paragraph, or H1 or whatever element you want to animate, with the animation properties.

The animation properties are:

animation-name
This must sync-up with the name with the@keyframes at-rule

animation-duration

animation-timing-function
Configures the timing of the animation, relating to how the animation transitions through keyframes.

animation-delay
How long between the element loading and the animation starting?

animation-iteration-count
Defines the number of times the animation should loop

Animation CSS

To see a good example of CSS animation, please see this one on impressivewebs.com (this free version of wordpress won’t allow me to embed code etc.)

To be fair, it’s probably a bit easier to animate with JQuery – but still very handy to know CSS animations, especially when you’re trying to work out what’s going on a give webpage in terms of SEO etc.



CSS Transitions

Properties are animated from “initial to “final states” using CSS Transitions.

In the example above:

  • a div class is created in HTML and named “box”
  • The box is then styled in CSS to be red and specific dimensions
  • Transition is added to animate the box
  • Transition used on itself is shorthand, instead of declaring what to transition, for how long etc.
  • In the example above, we transition the background colour, over 2 seconds and tell it to “ease out”
  • The background colour to change to on-hover is declared as green
  • moz-transition, webkit transition etc are included for other browsers – usually older ones

Transitioning Headlines Word by Word

  • Create your HTML – name your classes etc.
<body>
<div class="box">
Rotating Word Animation
<div class="word">
<span>Rotating</span>
<span>Text </span>
<span>Test </span>
<span>Please</span>
<span>Work </span>


</div>
</div>
</body>
  • Add your CSS
body
{
margin:0;
padding:0;
background:#ff5544;
}

.box
{
position: absolute;
top: 50%;
transform: translateY(-50%);
font-size: 3em;
margin-left: 50px
width: calc(100%-50px);
}

.word
{
display: inline-block;
color: #ff0
}

.word span
{
position: absolute;
top: 0;
overflow: hidden;
animation: animate 10s linear infinite;
opacity: 0;
}

@keyframes animate
{
0%
{ 
opacity: 0;
transform: translateY(-50px);
}

2%
{ 
opacity: 1;
transform: translateY(0px);
}

18%
{ 
opacity: 1;
transform: translateY(0px);
}

20%
{ 
opacity: 0;
transform: translateY(50px);
}

100%
{ 
opacity: 0;
transform: translateY(50px);
}

}

.word span:nth-child(1)
{
animation-delay: 0s;
}

.word span:nth-child(2)
{
animation-delay: 2s;
}

.word span:nth-child(3)
{
animation-delay: 4s;
}

.word span:nth-child(4)
{
animation-delay: 6s;
}

.word span:nth-child(5)
{
animation-delay: 8s;
}

By using keyframes and changing the opacity of the ‘nth-child’ and altering the animation delay, you get the rotating word effect:



What is SaSS?

SaSS stands for “Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets”

SaSS look a bit different to standard CSS, as you don’t need the semi-colons or curly braces.

Variables

With SaSS, you can use the dollar symbol – $ to store variables.

You can, for example, create your own text variable, giving the text several styles such as size, font family, font style and a font weight – and store this information in a font variable called $my-font.

You can then call this variable to style various parts of a webpage

body {
  font: 100% $my-font;
}

or you could, create a colour variable, to save having to write out the hex code each time, e.g.

$red: #FF4848

For more information about SaSS, this Treehouse blog post is pretty good, as well as this post on sass-lang.com

Nesting

Sass lets you nest CSS selectors in the same way as HTML.

https://www.w3schools.com/sass/sass_nesting.asp

Customizing WordPress Themes with Advanced Custom Fields

Summary:

  • Create a specific post type with CPT UI plugin
  • Add specific fields, to the new post-types using the Advanced Custom Fields plugin
  • Give new fields an id – so that you can then edit the styling with CSS

See our WordPress for CSS blog post for more information on customising CSS – this will be the next post to be published



Custom fields is probably the easiest way to implement significant layout changes to a WordPress theme.

It is also a great way to provide a client with specific pages, that they can populate and publish themselves.

It obvisouly helps, a lot, to know HTML and CSS, and ideally PHP and Javascript, but you should be able to effectively customise designs to your own, and to your clients’ needs by using plugins instead (along with the Customize features now available on WordPress sites.

If a client is very specific about a design, it can a be a bit of a nightmare if you are not savvy with editing WordPress CSS, HTML and JS – Advanced Custom Fields makes it easy – and easier for both you and your clients to update when required – by changing the visual editor in wp-admin to make it as simple as possible.

In fact, I first came across Advanced Custom Fields, when I worked for a UK Tourism company, and the Web Agency amended pages using the plugin.

Step by Step

  1. Sort your hosting and domain out. Hostgator is decent (not an affiliate link)
  2. Backup your website (you should do this before installing new plugins – ironically, you made need a plugin to do this!)
  3. Install the CPT UI WordPress plugin – so you can create custom post types
  4. Install Advanced Custom Fields WordPress plugin – so you can create, well, custom fields etc on your pages and posts.
  5. Activate both the CPT UI WordPress plugin and the Advanced Custom Fields Plugin

Creating Fields with Advanced Custom Fields

Once you have installed – and activated the Advanced Custom Fields plugin, you should see a menu item on the left hand side; called “Custom Fields”

Image Source

To create a new field:

  • Click the “Add New” button next to “Field Groups” at the top of the page on the Custom Fields tab/menu item
  • Give the Field a Name e.g. “Product Description 2”
  • Now click the blue “+Add Field” button (near the top, to the right)
  • Now fill in the items required:
    – Field Name – give it a descriptive name – e.g. Product Description 2
    – Field Type – for text entry/a text box – choose Text
  • Most items are quite straight forward – the Location part is very important thought – as this dictates on which pages or posts, this field will appear.
    For my wooCommerce store, I have chosen:
    Post Type – is equal to – product
    so that I get the text field on all my product posts.
advanced custom fields - location
  • when you are happy – click the “Publish” button on the right hand side.
  • Now when I create a new Product Post/Page – I have the option to add a second description via a text box:
Product Text box
“Product Description 2” is now shown at the bottom of the page

Other Text Fields that might be appropriate for a Product could be things like:

  • Manufacturer
  • Year
  • Price
  • Condition

You could also set the fields to “Required” – so that a product could not be posted to the website without all of the above details. This is particularly helpful if you have multiple people working on the same site.

Remember that Year and Price would be a “number” and not a text field.

Add A Rating Box Using Advanced Custom Fields

  • Click “Add Field” button
  • Give the Field a name in Field Label & an actual Field Name
  • Add Instructions for the admin-user
  • Add a min and max value, e.g. 0 and 10
  • Step size – 1 (means can’t give 1.5 etc. has to be a whole number)


Combining Advanced Custom Fields with Custom Post Type Plugin

  • Install CPT UI plugin and activate it
  • Add a new post type by clicking on the relevant part of the side menu to bring up the CPT UI options
  • Fill in the basic settings:
    Slug – what will appear in the URL of these posts
    Singular – e.g. “Offer”
    Plural – e.g. “Offers”
  • Add Post Type – it should appear on the left hand menu/nav

Go Back to CPT UI – this time click on !Edit Post Types”

Minimize or just skip over the “Additional Labels” section

Under “Settings”
– Has Archive – change to “True”
– Menu Position – Change to “6” so it appears below normal posts
– Menu Icon – Change this to a relevant icon – 50 x 20 pxls

Now – when you go back to the Advanced Custom Fields section of the menu/backend – you can add specific fields to the “Offer” post type:

Advanced Custom Fields and Custom Blog Tpe

Positioning Fields on the Page

Simply use the options (in Settings) that custom fields gives you for positioning the field:

You can also add a class and id, so that you can edit the fields using CSS (see our next post about WordPress and CSS!)