Quite a few people have been asking me lately for a tutorial on how to build a WordPress theme from scratch. So I have decided to write out a full tutorial, exposing all my tricks and secrets. This tutorial is going to break the process up into many parts, each focusing on a specific template file. I will show you not only why it is important to use this template file but how to use it properly. By the end of the series you will have the knowledge and experience needed to start building your own themes. But before we begin, you should understand that I build custom WordPress themes from scratch for business owners, non-profit organizations, and hobbyists. I won’t be showing you how to build themes like you would find on Themeforest.net or any other site that sells themes. Even if that is your goal, this series WILL help you get started because the process is pretty much the same. The only difference is that I won’t be teaching you how to build in a Theme Options menu where customers can change the theme to their hearts content. I know that this tutorial is going to help every aspiring WordPress theme developer get to the level they want to be. Let’s get started with the Header.php file.
Have you every wondered why you should build WordPress themes from scratch? Well, I have compiled 10 reasons why I build WordPress themes from scratch as opposed to hacking another theme. This isn’t going to be one of those articles that bashes the use of professional themes or child theming. Most people start out using free or paid themes to develop with, because it helps get us used to how WordPress themes work and it can speed up the dev process. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t hacked apart a theme or two.
When Should You Buy Or Hack A Theme?
There are times that you should purchase a theme or grab a free one if it suites your needs. If you’re a business owner and you just started the business, there usually isn’t a budget for a website. If you happen to be apart of a non-profit organization that has just started or all of it’s funding is used elsewhere, grab a $40 theme and add your content. There are some really great WordPress theme developers out there creating beautifully designed and highly functional templates.
When Should You Build WordPress Themes From Scratch?
If you are a developer and you have been hacking themes for a while, you should start building themes from scratch. It is a great learning experience and it will take your skill level way up. If you are a business owner and have a website already, I would recommend looking into a developer that can build you a custom solution. If your website is looking old, isn’t working for you rather against you, you aren’t being found on search engines, or all of the above you should upgrade. If you fit into any of these examples, this article is for you!
There are many articles on the web that explain the template hierarchy within WordPress but I wanted to write one about the WordPress Template Hierarchy for developers. Something that drastically opened my eyes to the power the WordPress Core developers have given us. The purpose of a template hierarchy is to not only allow you to develop more quickly and easily but to have backup support in case something happens to one or two of your files. It allows within your development to cover all of your bases or choose to only code the basic necessities. Ultimately, it is the skeleton of your theme and we need to know how to manipulate it and put all the bones in the right place.
Learn The Basics First
The first thing I would recommend doing if you haven’t already is go check out the WordPress template hierarchy on the codex. The explanation they give is really good actually. For some, especially beginners, it may look like lorum ipsum in some spots. After you read through that article, this article will give you a little more in depth information along with things I have experience in my daily theme development.