As with many WordPress designers and developers, I often work on custom themes for clients. Many sites require custom content and settings so I wanted to come up with a workable strategy for implementation. I break my settings and customization into three (3) sections:
- Theme Settings
- Sidebar and Footer
- Main Content
Fortunately, WordPress provides us with the tools to handle all 3 of these items.
Theme settings can include items like a logo, header, default fonts and colors – basically theme options (but usually not content) that affects the entire theme. For this I use the theme customizer. While this may take a bit of time to learn, it is well worth it and eliminates the need to build theme options pages for the dashboard.
Sidebar and Footer
In this case, I always provide a widget area for the theme. Although footer widgets may be repeated throughout the site, they usually contain content rather than settings and therefore do not fit with the theme customizer.
I usually think of the main content of a page or post as the what is entered into the main editor. When developing a custom theme, putting all the content into one large block does not always work. For example, a website may require certain items to repeat or have a specific format. In this case, I use custom fields. To make development simpler I reply on Advanced Custom Fields. Using Advanced Custom Fields creates easy to use and manage data entry fields so that site owners are clear as to what content goes where and how the relates to their actual, live website.