One of the benefits of knowing how to code is the ability to add nifty features to your WordPress theme or child theme. If you are working with a web developer, you have an opportunity to add a few beneficial items to your site. Last week I posted about choosing WordPress themes as a guest blogger on Sherryl Perry’s site (thank you for that opportunity, Sherryl!). Here are some items you can either look for in a theme or easily add on to a good one.
Customize Your Header
WordPress has a customizer. Not all themes make use of this ability to change details about your theme. Does your theme allow this? Here’s how you do it if you can: from your dashboard, pick Appearance-> Customize. Then pick Header Image. Or go from Appearance -> Header. If you do redesign your header, make sure it has the same width and height as your original header. You might be able to change the height, and it will still look OK, but usually you want the same width as the original one. If you do change your header, be sure to test it on a number of different browsers and devices.
Add a Social Media Menu
If you look at the bottom of this blog, you will find a menu of social media accounts upon which you can follow me. I set up this social media menu as part of the theme for this blog. The icons are set up with a special font called Font Awesome. If I want to add another one, I can add it via my CSS stylesheet. This makes the social media menu quite light, as opposed to some social media plugins which add way too much unnecessary code (and unfortunately, sometimes break or stop being supported). It is not difficult for a good web developer to set up. To learn more, you can visit this post Creating a Social Media Menu from Icon Fonts with FontAwesome. The original idea the was the brainchild of web developer Justin Tadlock. It looks like one can do something similar with Genericons (now included with WordPress core). I also saw a similar social media menu added to a main menu at the top of a site.
Subscription Box on Your Sidebar
Recently I added a subscription box to the right side of this blog (if you are on a phone, you will have to scroll down). Technically, all you have to do to add a subscription box is add a text widget on your sidebar, but if you want a little special coding to make the subscription box stand out more, you might need to ask your web developer to add a bit of CSS styling to your theme. Learn more in this post on subscription boxes.
Search Magnifying Glass in Main Menu
If you look at the top menu of this blog, you will find a search icon magnifying glass on the right. The icon, like the social media menu at the bottom, uses Font Awesome. If you click on it, it shows a search box. This is a nice, tidy way to include search as part of your main menu.
Of course, you can also add a search box in a more traditional spot on the sidebar. If you look at the one I included on the sidebar, it has a bit of a formed and gradient look. This method was done by adding to the theme’s CSS.
Schema in Theme
What is schema? Schema is code (code labels) that search engines use to detect the type of page or type of data (learn more on schema). There are plugins for adding schema to sites; however, in my opinion, this is better done via the theme. The plugin doesn’t always play nicely with the theme, so you might end up with errors which is much worse than no schema at all. If you just have a blog or a simple website with pages, added schema code that says it’s an article or a page might be all that is needed. Adding schema to your site is one extra boost for SEO. For a good web developer, it is easy to add a bit of code to your functions.php and then to other theme pages so the schema is included. If you have a site with recipes or movie reviews, adding schema would probably be more important because then you can tell the search engines even more details about those particular recipe or movie review pages.
What’s in Your Theme?
Do you have a particular feature in your theme that you like? Can you tell us about it? Have you seen a feature on another site that you like that might be part of the site’s theme? Sometimes it is hard to tell whether a feature is added via plugin or via theme code – but we can discuss that, too! Adding a few WordPress theme features can help your readers and help your business grow. What would you want to add if you could?
I plan to write on the topic of choosing plugins in the near future.