How to Customize a WordPress Theme with the Theme Customizer

Sometimes you need to make some minor changes to your WordPress theme but you really don’t want to dig into the CSS and HTML of the theme to make those changes.

Since WordPress version 3.4, there has been an additional link in the Themes page, below the currently active theme. This Customize link takes you to a preview of your site and allows you to edit portions of it all without touching the code.

Note that this is also available from the admin bar menu.

As this is still relatively new, only some themes have started using this feature to its maximum effect, so depending on the theme you have installed the options will be different.

Using the default TwentyTwelve theme you are allowed to edit the following:


  • Site Title and Tagline: Modify the site’s title and tagline
  • Header Text Colour: Modify the colour of the site title
  • Background Colour: Change the main site background colour
  • Background Image: Want an image instead? Add it here.
  • Front Page: You can event select a blog layout or a static page from here.

Obviously the main difference, and great feature, of the customizer is the ability to preview the changes in real time, unlike standard settings pages. This doesn’t affect what your visitors see until you save the options.

Whilst the TwentyTwelve theme provides really basic examples, some themes have taken the power of the customizer and used it to great effect.

The free Customizr theme is an example of this allowing a much larger range of options to be set, including but not limited to: a skin, logo and favicon and even structural layouts. It goes as far as to even allow you to add custom CSS on the fly, which is pretty amazing.


In my mind this is the first real step towards a built in system that allows theme developers to give a full WYSIWIG way to modify your theme.

Now, if we could get every theme to start using  the customizer it would mean that making your site unique to you via the options an easier process, as there would be no saving and swapping tabs to see what it looks like.

Let me know about your experiences with the WordPress customizer.