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Top 7 WordPress Theme Development Best Practices Developers Should Know 

Wordpress theme development best practices

It’s a big thing to create your first theme. You may know how to convert a functioning site into a work of art, but creating a WordPress theme necessitates learning a new set of abilities to function correctly. That’s why the WordPress theme development best practices are crucial. 

Here are some helpful hints for designers creating their first WordPress theme. You’ll discover what makes a decent theme, what tools you should consider, and what coding basics you should know.

With that said, let’s begin. 

What Is The Function Of A WordPress Theme?

WordPress theme development Best Practices

Themes are what drive a website in WordPress, determining what it contains, how it operates, and how it looks. The content, which is stored in the database, is separate from the theme. 

This implies you can use the same theme on multiple websites, independent of their content – something you may already be doing if you’ve acquired themes from the WordPress theme library.

A theme comprises a collection of template files that are all placed in the theme folder in your WordPress installation, which is located in wp-content/themes. At least two files are required in every WordPress theme: style.css and index.php

The index file specifies what content the theme displays. Then, the style sheet (as the name implies) styles it and contains meta-information about WordPress’s theme to make it operate properly.

Other Additional Files To Keep In Mind In WordPress Theme Development Best Practices

Most themes come with a few more files:

  • Header.php has the <head> part of each page and the website’s design header.
  • Footer.php contains the footer, which may or may not have widget spaces.
  • Functions.php has a section that contains any functionalities unique to your theme. In addition, the WordPress Codex has information about the functions file.
  • Sidebar.php has the sidebar, as well as any widget areas.
  • Files that contain a loop that calls the database for content. This might be any of the below files, depending on the area of the website you’re working on:
  1. The page.php is for static pages
  2. The single.php is for individual posts like blog posts. 
  3. Index.php, category.php, archive.php, etc., are used for pages list numerous pages. 

Yoast has created a wonderful visual picture of how theme files function for sites that list several posts. And the WordPress Codex gives a full discussion of themes, including data on the multiple files and when they are called.

7 WordPress Theme Development Best Practices 

WordPress Theme Development

1. Follow The WordPress Coding Standards

Have you worked on a website someone else built before? If so, you know how difficult it can be if that person has their unique way of writing code. First, you need to comprehend the site’s architecture in general, but you also need to learn how to read it.

WordPress features well-established coding standards for HTML, PHP, and CSS to avoid situations like these. In addition, the WordPress community has agreed on the guidelines of WordPress theme development best practices.

Other developers will find it easier to comprehend and change your code if you follow these guidelines. That’s why it’s one of the WordPress theme development best practices to keep in mind.

The Coding Standards Make It Easy To Read 

They exist to establish a common ground for collaboration. This is critical because, as you may know, WordPress is an open-source project that receives contributions from a variety of sources. The same can be said about plugins and themes created by individuals and then made publicly available.

The code standards make it easy to prevent frequent mistakes, increase readability, and make changes. They also verify that all files are consistent. Following the standards ensures that your code can be read, understood, and modified by anyone, no matter when or who wrote it.

2. Use Theme Constants

It commonly occurs when you need to refer to a theme image, blog’s homepage URL, or the javascript folder. It’s not a good idea to utilise functions like “get stylesheet directory uri()” or “get bloginfo()” repeatedly because it wastes server resources by calling and creating functions. 

Instead, you can repeat data to be constants. Simply paste the following code into your theme’s functions.php file:

3. SEO Meta Tags

Even though WordPress is SEO-friendly, you can still increase the SEO quality of your theme by following a few simple guidelines for writing meta titles and meta description tags.

Postname – Blogname is a popular title format; to use it, simply add the following code into the header.php file:

Also, use a filter to change the appearance of the title tag on the frontend. 

4. Follow Efficient Theme Stylesheet 

The following are some of the CSS rules to follow:

  • You should adhere to CSS coding principles when creating your CSS.
  • When possible, use correct CSS.
  • CSS hacks should be kept to a minimum.
  • Your theme should style all conceivable HTML elements in post/page content and comment material, such as tables, captions, photos, lists, blockquotes, etc.
  • You can include styles that are suitable for printing.

5. Stick To The Template Hierarchy

WordPress Theme Development From Scratch

Since we’re on file organisation, WordPress’s various components fit together like a jigsaw piece. Files and templates are utilised to create the many features to develop a website. 

Some appear on every page (like header or footer), while others (like category or search pages) only appear under particular circumstances.

The WordPress platform uses a hierarchy to select which template will be used for each. If the first option isn’t accessible, WordPress will move on to the second, and so on. 

A solid grasp of this hierarchy is essential for theme creation, and you should acquaint yourself with it to ensure that what you’re building uses the relevant templates in the appropriate places.

6. Make Your Theme International or Local

WordPress is no longer a niche tool utilised by a small group of developers who hang out in the same online group. Instead, it’s turned into an international craze. 

That also means that not everyone who uses WordPress is from an English-speaking country. However, the market for themes isn’t confined to a particular language because the platform is so extensively used.

Furthermore, WordPress makes localising your theme simple and involves minimal additional effort. 

7. Use Child Themes And Theme Frameworks 

When you utilise a WordPress theme framework, you receive a lot of built-in capabilities like SEO, extra hooks, and more widgets and layouts. Furthermore, child themes can be used to enhance theme frameworks. This saves you a lot of time when it comes to theme development.

There are numerous theme frameworks available, both free and paid. Hybrid, Thematic, and Carrington are good places to start for novices.

It’s still worth looking at the code and structure of WordPress theme frameworks if you don’t intend to use them.

What You Should Consider When Developing A WordPress Theme

  WordPress Theme Development service

Know your limits before determining which approach to pursue to develop your theme. It’s one of the WordPress theme development best practices you shouldn’t forget. These are most likely:

  • Time. How much time can you get to develop a theme or learn how to do it? 
  • Budget. This has to do with time, but it also has to do with whether you can purchase a premium theme or a theme framework.
  • Future-proofing. Will you need to upgrade your theme in the future? Will other developers be working on it besides you? If that’s the case, your strategy should be as solid as possible.
  • Capability. How well-versed are you in theme development, CSS, PHP, and how themes work? How much do you want to learn if you’re not familiar?
  • Repetition. Do you intend to pursue several similar topics in the future? If this is the case, your strategy must allow for code reuse.

Final Thoughts 

WordPress has coding guidelines for website design as well! For a complete tutorial, check out their theme manual and the CSS coding guidelines. While WordPress has minimal restrictions when it comes to the aesthetic of your website, they do have CSS structure suggestions.

When you code according to WordPress standards, it is easier for your team to collaborate and communicate. In addition, when you combine many comments with context hints, your code’s intention and purpose will endure far longer than your recall.

If you need help with your WordPress site in terms of SEO, web design, content creation and more, we can gladly help you. So schedule a free consultation today, and let’s improve your online visibility and ROI. 

WordPress Theme Development Best Practices FAQs 

First, make a folder in which to store your theme files. Then, develop a look. Then, from the WordPress Dashboard, activate your theme, and incorporate code to generate the post title and content. You can also include a link in each post and add a Header and Footer to the Custom Theme.

Because the basic HTML code works smoothly, it will be speedier. WordPress is a better alternative if you want the freedom to choose from thousands of layouts, control your website, and avoid paying monthly fees to developers to add graphics and other material.

Most custom theme development jobs, on the other hand, take roughly two to three weeks.

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