How to Edit & Customize Any WordPress Theme with HTML, CSS, PHP Templates & Chrome Inspector

In this step-by-step tutorial, you’ll learn exactly how to edit your WordPress theme using custom code. You can edit the design with HTML/PHP/CSS if you understand how WordPress uses the PHP theme files to generate your web pages based on its template hierarchy system.

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Let’s add a custom homepage banner to our website that has a strong call-to-action. To do this you need to edit the PHP files within your child theme directory, so they take precedence over for the parent theme PHP file.

Within your WordPress admin area, go to Appearance – Theme Editor to see the files that make up your installed theme. You can copy a theme file from your parent theme to your child theme, and then edit to customize.

Once you update the PHP template file, you can then adjust your design using CSS code. Either add custom CSS to the child theme’s style.css, or you can go to the Appearance – Customize editor.

My preferred method of designing is by testing small changes in real-time using Google Chrome’s “Inspect” button that you see by right-clicking on any website. That will show you the code behind the design, and you can mess around with CSS settings to achieve the exact look that you want.

Once I do that, I then will copy-paste the CSS code into the WordPress theme.

Instead of making massive changes, I am a big fan of incrementally making over your website, about 5-10 lines of HTML/CSS code at a time. This makes debugging much more clear than rolling out several updates at once.

WordPress + PHP + HTML + CSS + Javascript = Endless possibilities to create a completely unique theme!

Do you prefer to build a website visually? Check out my full tutorial on how to customize a website much easier using a modern visual builder (Divi) that is the #1 most popular WordPress theme on the web:

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The website in this tutorial was made with the pre-installed Twenty Seventeen theme along with a free page builder called Elementor, see how it’s done:

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