Owing to the popularity and increased demand for WP templates, the individuals having recently joined the field of web development are curious about knowing how to design a WordPress theme. To put in a few words, designing the best WP themes requires a lot of research, care and expertise on the part of the developers. If you have got a strong passion and deep interest, all these complex and demanding tasks would seem to be nothing but a child’s play. In the first step of research, you will have to look for the modern trends. Meanwhile, you can find out the difficulties faced by the users and their advanced requirements. The product will have immense appeal if it addresses some core issue. On the basis of these findings, it would be easy to define the purpose, aims and utilities of the project. An innovative design is of paramount importance here. The next step involves planning. Then you can start coding which has to be precise and well commented. Testing for quality and performance may constitute the final step.
The overall process of WordPress theme designing can be divided into following parts:
- Designing & Coding
- Post Steps
There are different things that you have to keep in mind prior to you start designing a WordPress based theme. These include:
Plan the Project
Though you can go without doing any research work, the product to be developed will not be fetching as much appeal and appreciation as that of a well-researched one. It involves a number of advantages. Through such an activity, you can come to know of the latest web building trends as well as the core issues faced by the individuals associated with this profession. As some serious problem gets identified, you will be in a better position to carve out an appropriate solution and facilitate the users.
Defining the purpose and aim of your web building project is very important. It will enable the users to determine if the given product can be of any benefit to them and serve their cause. In a systematic and well-planned process, the preceding step makes way for the succeeding one. So, one of the fruits of research is that it will help you to base your product on some convincing cause. For example, you come to know that no theme is available for church and charity that has the feature of recurring payment system. It will be a very good idea if you work for such an advanced functionality in your new template, which you can name as Lifeline premium charity WordPress theme or Deeds WordPress church template, etc.
The first major thing that the users look for in a newly created template is the design or layout. If it is dull, boring or copied from some existing style, the potential buyers will ignore it and go for the alternative. Consequently, you won’t be getting the expected reward for your long, laborious effort. In the reverse case, the innovative outlook will instantly impress the onlookers, thus inspiring them to avail and utilize it on priority basis.
Planning plays a key role in the timely completion and ultimate success of the product. As the saying goes, “Well begun is half done”, if your start is good, it is a guarantee for the best results. In the plan, you need to specify the sequence and timing for different steps. So, during the course of theme development, the developers will have idea regarding what to do next and when. For example, after completing PHP coding for different features, the experts would be testing it for practical utility and determining/correcting errors.
Designing & Coding
After you have invented a unique and revolutionary design and done sophisticated planning, it is the time to start implementation of your scheme. Given below is the step-by-step process that you need to follow:
Converting PSD to HTML:
HTML to PHP/WordPress Conversion:
As a primary step, a Photoshop expert will design the project on Photoshop and preserve it in the form of PSD files. Here the images can be portrayed in different layers. This proprietary file also allows you to work with the individual layers of images even after you have saved the file. This is the sketch of how your theme would look like. This native file format of Photoshop supports all the available modes of images, including Lab, RGB, Indexed Color, Multichannel, Duotone, CMYK, Grayscale and Bitmap. The support for clipping paths, channels and duotones makes it a very useful file format.
The very next step involves the conversion of PSD files into HTML format. It is the task of the HTML coders. This Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is used as a standardized system to tag text files for achieving the effects of fonts, hyperlink, graphic and color on the web pages. It is basically a set of markup tags for describing the web documents, with each tag denoting a different document. In other words, converting PSD to HTML means translating the simple image file into workable web template, thus providing you with a fully-accomplished framework to launch a website. To get the best product, you have to take special care of commenting, precision & accuracy, and use of “H” tags, etc. As a consequence, the template thus created will be very lightweight, easy to customize and optimized for search engines.
Though an HTML template can also be used to build an online project, its functionalities are very limited. Besides being less flexible, it also involves difficulty in handling and customizations. Here, you need to have basic knowledge of coding, so that you may identify HTML tags for different sections and use them at different places by copy/paste or cut/paste method. On the other hand, if you want a plenty of revolutionary features, wonderfully dynamic layout and extreme versatility of use, the given HTML template has to be transformed into a WordPress compatible version through PHP coding. PHP or Hyertext PreProcessor is a general purpose scripting language that is particularly suited for web-development and can also be integrated into HTML. It will make the former dynamic and versatile in functioning. While embedding PHP into the static template, you need to be careful about precision, accuracy, commenting and the use of tagging. On this WordPress based version, you will be able to install different free and premium WordPress plugins, like WooCommerce, Contact Form 7, Visual Composer, Layer Slider, Revolution Slider, Royal Slider, and so on. Finally, an extremely easy-to-use mega project building tool will be at your disposal in the form of a WordPress theme.
The job does not end even after you have gone through all the steps of ‘How to design a WordPress theme’. Different steps connected with quality assurance and theme validation are still left. Through these tasks, you check the theme for different errors and practical application, so that it will work smoothly both at the frontend and backend. Given below are some of the mandatory tasks that you need to perform to make it an excellent product for website development.
Image Size Management:
During the theme development many different sizes are used for the images. Each of the images displayed at different locations can be having its own size. It may create difficulty for the user during the process of personalization. That is why the image sizes are managed in such a way that one image can fit multiple locations. It will allow the website developers to use a few variations in the dimensions of images to cover all the posts in the theme.
Frontend & Backend Testing:
Using “Theme Check” for Theme Errors:
Theme Check is one of the free WordPress plugins that is one of the most popular tools used to test a WP theme for errors. Through this simple and easy-to-use plugin, you can test the given theme for the latest WordPress practices and standards. It will allow you to run the testing tools that will determine if all the features are up to the mark. After running the tests through a simple admin menu, all the results will be displayed at the same time. Being extremely easy-to-use, it can be handled by every advanced or novice user.
HTML Markup Validation through W3C:
To find out errors in the HTML coding of the WordPress theme, the popular W3C markup validation service is used. This online tool offers three different ways to check markup of web documents, i.e.
- Markup validation by URL
- Markup validation by file upload
- Markup validation by direct input
After providing the desired pathway to the web document, you need to click on the “Check” button given below. When the process of testing is complete, the results will be displayed, depicting different possible errors in the markup. For the sake of greater efficiency, the premium service is also available through the W3C Validator Suite.
After managing the image sizes, the theme is to be practically tested for frontend as well as backend functionality. For this purpose, a WordPress expert should get access to the WP Admin Panel by providing username and password. As you go to the theme management panel, there will be dozens of options placed in the left sidebar for the built-in features. The expert has to test each of these options, one by one, and see the effect of the changes on the frontend. If the changes made at the backend get applied on the frontend as intended, it means the given option is working correctly. For example, you apply an image for logo and it appears on the frontend with proper dimensions. It means the feature for logo image is fully functional. On the other hand, if logo does not appear or it is stretched on the webpage, it means this particular option is not working correctly and has to be made functional.
The product is almost ready to be marketed as one of the best premium WordPress themes now. However, the final task of giving finishing touches has yet to be performed. Just all the testing again, using the tools of Theme Check, W3C. Similarly, check for the workability of frontend and backend options.