How I customized my WordPress Blog #4


Posted on November 16th, by Andrew Kelsall in Graphic Design, Web Design. 4 comments

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Firstly, I would like to thank you, both ‘readers’ and RSS Subscribers, who are following this article series. It’s been a while since my last instalment due to a heavy design-workload.

In my last instalment, I wrote of how I learned to code CSS. This part is about how I chose a WordPress theme to customize. When I initially decided to use WordPress, I had three options regarding the design of the blog, as follows:

Design my own theme/template

Although there are plenty of tutorials out there on how to do this, I determined that it would take too much of my very precious time to learn about designing my own theme. Although I had the ability to code CSS, designing for a PHP-based blog would command new skills that would take time to both learn and master.

Use a pre-designed theme/template

Obviously, this option would take the least amount of time to implement, however, as a designer I needed to stand out from the crowd and stamp my own flair regarding my online presence. The way that my site is presented online is the bridge between potential clients and myself, not to mention my readers also. So for me, using a pre-designed theme, either free or “premium” (paid-for) simply wasn’t a viable option.

Customize as pre-designed theme

Well, as you guessed, this is the option I chose because it gave me the best of both worlds. I was able to design my own graphics for my blog, but using the code structure of a theme that had already been designed and tested.

If like myself, you are already a WordPress user, you will have probably seen the vast array of templates out there, both free and Premium. What I was looking for was a theme that I could strip down to the bone, as it were. I searched the net for a while looking for a theme with a great structure, not design. To elaborate, I wanted a theme that just had a basic code-structure that I could leverage to create a unique appearance out of.

The screen-shot (at the top of this post) is the theme that I chose to use — GridFocus by Derek Punsalan of 5ThirtyOne.com. Now, I had seen this template used many times before on various blogs, customized by site owners and designers. I noticed how well it could be be adjusted to any particular blog, with the only main aspect giving-away that it was GridFocus was the main navigation bar. It would be fair to assume that the majority of non-designers and non-bloggers would even notice this theme being used on various sites.

So, after downloading the theme, I set to work on customizing the images and even overall layout. This shall be covered in more detail in Part #5, be sure to subscribe to my feed so you don’t miss it.

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4 Responses to “How I customized my WordPress Blog #4”

  1. Although personally I’m a Joomla fan I also highly prefer to work with an existing template to have some structure, and even when designing a simple static site I like to start with something that already exists and then modify away. What I end up with never looks anything like what I started with but it gives me something to go by when getting going.

    I’ll have to try WordPress for one of my new sites some day soon, as there seem to be a vast amount of really cool templates for it and some of the features are just amazing.

    Thanks for sharing!

    George – LogoDesign.orgs last blog post..Up For Discussion #3: Dreamtree logo by ndmgfx

  2. Yeah, I’m a fan of templates myself, as you know that they work on different browsers and have been tested — if you choose the right ones.

    In an ideal world, a clients budget would enable me to create one from scratch, but for me, this would take too much time and hence cost the client more money.

    And like you said, customization can go a long way, and you’d never notice. ‘At the end of the day’, every web-designer is building upon someone else’s “work”. Even custom/from scratch designs and code are built upon code specifications, with WordPress custom designs, built with pre-existing .php

    Thanks for commenting George…

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