Is Your WordPress Theme Hot or Not? + Meet The WordPress Customizer

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When it comes to WordPress themes there are a TON of options available. Do you want an ecommerce site? A free theme? A premium one? A customizable one? Genesis? A Child Theme? A Framework?

Say whaaaat!?

Deep breaths friends. We’re going to cover the basics of what you should look for when searching for your perfect WordPress theme… and what, in my humble opinion, makes it hot or not.


Decide What You Want + Need

First off, ask yourself what you’re going to be using your WordPress theme for. Are you a blogger? Will you be selling products from your site? Will you want a theme that will grow with you over time and one that offers various customization options? What is your budget? Do you want to mess with code? Do you want image galleries? Is your theme going to come with support?

These are important questions to answer. After you nail them down, you’ll know what to look for in a theme.

If your theme supports the plugins you need, has flexible galleries, makes your content shine, and comes with stellar support…well. That’s hot.


Beauty + Brains

Let’s face it. Your WordPress theme is not hot if it looks good on the outside but is, as we say here in the south, “All hat and no cattle.” It looks pretty, but doesn’t deliver the dashboard options you need.

Years ago, before I ever started developing feminine WordPress themes, I designed custom websites for clients. More often than not, these usually started with a WordPress theme that I found on Themeforest and tweaked. At that point in time, this was one of the ONLY marketplace selling WordPress themes. I can’t tell you how much money I spent over there to be left pretty disappointed with my purchases.

The theme demos looked great prior to purchase, but when I looked under the hood I found that these themes were lacking the color, font, and other style type of customizations I needed and wanted.  I didn’t want to have to copy / paste code to add a new font.

Ain’t nobody got time fo dat.

OR, even worse…. the theme options panel was so convoluted and overloaded that it felt like learning a new language just to make a site look decent.

No thanks.


Enter The WordPress Customizer – That’s Hot.

What is The WordPress Customizer? | angiemakes.com

The WordPress customizer is accessible under Appearance / Customize from your WordPress dashboard. A theme that provides you with robust options via the Wordpress Customizer is, in my humble opinion, the single most important sign of a great WordPress theme.  Here’s why I think so.

demo


– You can see your changes as you make them.

This saves so much time… I can’t even tell you. Here’s the backend of our older generation themes. These options are not too shabby. BUT… you can’t see your changes when you make them. You’re left to toggle between your front end (your live website) and your backend (the WordPress dashboard) to see what in the blazes you’re doing.

Argh. Not ideal.

Enter our second generation of feminine WordPress themes and the WordPress customizer. I can see my changes as I make them. I can change colors a million times in a matter of seconds and see how they look with my site’s content.

Hold the phone. I’ve died and gone to heaven.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL.


– The Customizer Keeps Everything In One Place

The WordPress Customizer | angiemakes.com

The customizer is so much more than just color / font customizations. Depending on your theme, you can manipulate your blog layout, make your site responsive, customize your sidebar, page layouts, and more.

It can do everything but the dishes.

The beauty of this is that all your options are right there in one place. Yessss. No more hunting down where a theme author has put various customization options in your WordPress dashboard.


– No More Pasting Code / Bulky Theme Options Panels

Seriously. If you’re still having to edit your WordPress theme this way, I honestly feel sorry for you. I’ve been there. It’s frustrating.


– Themes that use the customizer are sticking with the WordPress Core

Say whaaaa? Let me translate. Theme’s that utilize the WordPress customizer aren’t adding anything to WordPress. They’re simply harnessing the power of WordPress and a feature that has some serious customizing potential. This means theme creators aren’t pushing the limits of what WordPress was intended to be and do. This means theme creators aren’t adding a crazy theme options panel of their own invention that’s going to frustrate you and take hours to learn.

Themes utilize the Wordpress Customizer aren’t building a framework or anything else convoluted and cumbersome. They’re lightweight.


What about you? Have you tried the WordPress Customizer? What’s your take on it?

 

16 thoughts on “Is Your WordPress Theme Hot or Not? + Meet The WordPress Customizer

  1. This is a very interesting post! I’m confused though – I have a WordPress .com website (www.stephstyle.com) but when I go to the Appearance – Customize section, it doesn’t show up as many options as yours does above? E.g. fonts etc. Do you know why this would be?
    Thanks,
    Steph
    x

    1. I’m no angie, but I’m going to guess it’s because you do not have a self-hosted site…you need to have one through wordpress.org

    2. Steph,

      Great question! Because many of the themes on wordpress.com are free, they don’t always include a ton of options. In fact, my opinion of some of their PREMIUM themes (50-70 bucks a pop) is pretty low as well.

      The last I checked, they did not include all of the options that you can get with a PREMIUM theme hosted apart from wordpress.com… Ie. a self-hosted site like Rachel mentions below.

      Here’s an article I wrote on getting set up with self-hosted WordPress. Not as hard as you may think!

      http://angiemakes.com/set-up-wordpress-blog/

  2. I’m currently using your free mary kate theme and I use the customizer pretty regularly for widgets. Once I really settle into this whole blogging thing I’m hoping to upgrade to one of your premium themes and I’m sure I’ll be totally wowed by the customization options. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Marina,

      Awesome! So glad you were able to use the free Mary Kate. And I know you’d enjoy the extra, fancy options when you’re ready for ’em! :)

  3. I’m totally confused. I’m thinking of buying Gridiculous Pro Theme. I know nothing about buying a theme and don’t understand how I can tell if it has the options I want much less the options you are talking about ? Can I use the WP Customizer with Gridiculous Pro? Is it a child theme or do I have to pay extra for the Genesis as well.

    I will gladly pay someone to get me straight on what it is I need. There is a blog I want to pretty much copy their layout. (Not to copy their blog but I do like certain elements of their blog). They use Gridiculous Pro but is it easy enough for a beginner?
    Please, what is the difference between a Child Theme and a Framework? I understand a Child theme goes with the Genesis to add more style. All I understand is, Grid. Pro is a WordPress theme. Help!!!
    Email me if this is too much. I so badly want to start my blog if I can get the theme thing and set up straight. Everytime I read more articles, the more confused I get.

  4. HI!! ..:)
    yes like Karen i want to know too. You give alot of great info in the article but alot of question go unanswered too.

    So by saying …Themes utilize the WordPress Customizer aren’t building a framework or anything else convoluted and cumbersome. They’re lightweight… Are you saying that Genesis is overkill?

    Can you recommended a good theme company that routinely uses the customizer to it maximum potential. and provides a trusted “framework” i thought i had decided Genesis was the way to even though it was a little more expensive but now i don’t know.

    what would you recommend to someone that also wants to start making themes they can resell?

    I also heard that recently the big bosses at WP are really emphasizing the need for theme makers to use the WP customizer kind of forcing them to. Think i read in the near future its going to be a must.

    1. Hi Barb,

      Some good thoughts here. I don’t think WordPress is going to “Force” anyone to use the customizer. BUT it is typically the good ideas and solutions that will win out in the end, and thus be what is utilized the most in the future.

      That is why, years ago when there was no clear blogging / website platform, my husband and I chose WordPress. We knew it was a good idea, it was open source, and had a gut feeling it would become the most utilized content management website software on the planet. (It has!)

      There’s nothing wrong with Genesis per say, but if I were building on Genesis I’d definitely find a way to incorporate the customizer. Like this. http://supercustomizer.com/

      Why? Because as a user it saves me time and hassle. That bodes well for the future of the Customizer and I think users will grow to expect it.

      PS. I am not personally a fan of Genesis as you can probably tell. I think a lot of people in the blogging world are paid to promote it… There, I said it.

      If I were starting from scratch building themes I would use http://underscores.me/. In fact, we did use it. But we are coders / designers and I understand not everyone is.

  5. HI!! Thank for your honesty Angie..:)

    Regarding Genesis i understand what you mean but i think for those of us that are not coders and just want a trusted framework we can work off its a good option. I have heard of enough nightmare scenarios with Free themes and cheap themes, i for sure don’t want it to happen to me. so i think for us its a good option, i don’t want to take any chances. I will belooking into supercustomizer.com…:) TY!!

    if i ever learn enough to call myself a coder i for sure will look into undercores.me its a bit too much for me at the moment but if i knew enough i would, like you, go that route no doubt about it.

    Regarding the customizer I was actually referring to this article …..WordPress.org Now Requires Theme Authors to Use the Customizer to Build Theme Options at http://wptavern.com/wordpress-org-now-requires-theme-authors-to-use-the-customizer-to-build-theme-options

    I think customizer has a lot of potential, loved your input on it, but its meeting alot of resistance and i think it should be embraced and improved on.
    Thanks again!!

  6. I’m totally confused. I’m thinking of buying Gridiculous Pro Theme. I know nothing about buying a theme and don’t understand how I can tell if it has the options I want much less the options you are talking about ? Can I use the WP Customizer with Gridiculous Pro?

    Is this too much for a beginner?

  7. Angie, you’re right. I also had a lot of theme and it cost me a lot of money and time.
    Your Best environmental theme is that I know. I never get bored because they have great opportunities, you can easily change them almost everything, they are not unreliable and easy to use.
    Genesis is also good, but to have more opportunities you have to install a lot of plugins, which is not cool.
    So did plug that allows you to change everything, but it is not suitable for children theme.
    Few designers really do as good theme as you.

  8. Just made a free blog (first timer????) and found you from a social media friend. Subscribed and followed you on Facebook & Pinterest but wanted to make sure if ok just for now to have something showing until I have more time to read up on and know exactly what I want on there and what I can put on there use your Freebie template which I believe was Mary Kate?!?

  9. I hardly ever use the customizer. It seems “clunkier” than my themes options/widgets/menus. However, I do like the idea of being able to test a little change before making it go live (when working on a live site not in maintenance mode). I actually forgot that was possible because I tend to ignore the customize thing!

    When I first started using WordPress, I had to manipulate code to get things to look like I wanted them to. I’m pretty sure anything is better than that! The customizer does seem really handy for someone who hasn’t yet learned where all the different settings are. I still forget some basic site settings. Maybe I should use the customizer for those things!

  10. This article and the little video were very helpful. I have been working on a blog and have been completely confused to the point of giving up. I purchased a theme that was way over my head. Cha-ching. Now I am looking at some of your themes, because I want something pretty. I think I will tinker around with a free one, until I really master this stuff. I really like your themes and style and I look forward to making a purchase in the future. Thanks for clarifying a few things for me. Going to continue reading on your site.

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