The thought of creating your own blog theme can sound either very frightening or very exciting depending on who you are. I personally fall into the latter group, but regardless of which group you fall into if you want to create your own theme or child theme then you need certain skills.
Yes, you need to learn to write in code – not to pass secret messages per se, but to tell the browser how to make your site look how you want it to. There are essentially two languages you need to know:
- CSS (HTML)
PHP sets the layout of your site or blog while allowing it to remain dynamic. I.e. you create 1 page template which you can apply to all of the pages, instead of 1 template for about, 1 for contact, etc.
CSS defines how your website will look – what colour your menu bar is for example. CSS and HTML are actually the same language – but a CSS file will usually affect the whole website where as the HTML defines individual pages.
That’s all the languages you need to know, but there are some other, somewhat optional, skills that you might like/need to have too:
Photoshop skills – whether you want to have an awesome website header, a nice background, or just some pretty graphics Photoshop is a great program for creating them in. If you’re good with any image creation software then that should be fine instead.
An eye for colour – I have seen more than a few websites (including some of my own at various points) where it looks like a 4-year-old climbed into a toolbox full of open paint pots and then ran into everything they could – and the pets joined in too. If you have an eye for colour then that’s brilliant. If you don’t, then try to pick 1 colour and use a tool like Adobe Kuler to help you choose the rest.
Patience. I know, you want it done right now. Unfortunately that won’t happen. And there will probably be a bug in the code that you just can’t find – all you know is it doesn’t look how it’s supposed to. You really need to have some measure of patience to work out all of those kinks and to do the job well.
I hope I’ve covered the basic skills you need to create a WordPress theme – these skills are of course useful in other places too, and you can use them to create themes for other blogs as well.
Do you have any experience, advice or questions about creating WordPress themes? Share in the comments!