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Mastering WordPress Theme Development: Tips for Beginners and Pros


Creating your WordPress Theme from scratch is a learning process. You have to go into its core to understand how WordPress themes function. Companies hire WordPress theme developers in India to get compelling WordPress themes for their websites. Gaining a better understanding of WordPress theme development coding is unnecessary. This blog post focuses on the WordPress theme development process in detail. 

Multiple free themes are available to you when you run a WordPress website. You can also pay a premium for professional WordPress compelling themes with phenomenal features. So, what is the need to learn to create your theme from scratch? It is because whatever theme you are using, there comes a time when you want to include simple changes to your website. A simple plugin or widget can bring these changes.

Sometimes, it is challenging to understand what you want and how to change your website without turning it into a heap of plug-ins and add-ons. You can modify your theme or create one from scratch with some knowledge. You better understand which file to edit and which code to add and modify to get the desired result. 

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Let’s look into the steps for WordPress theme development.

Step1: Develop a folder to contain your theme files

If you are about to create themes, you must know where the files that make a WordPress theme reside in a WordPress Installation. The process is relatively easy. A WordPress installation contains a root directory named WordPress. 

The directory has the following files and folders:


  • composer.json
  • index.php
  • license.txt
  • readme.html
  • wp-activate.php
  • wp-blog-header.php
  • wp-comments-post.php
  • wp-config.php
  • wp-config-sample.php
  • wp-cron.php
  • wp-links-opml.php
  • wp-load.php
  • wp-login.php
  • wp-mail.php
  • wp-settings.php
  • wp-signup.php
  • wp-trackback.php
  • xmlrpc.php


  • wp-admin
  • wp-content
  • wp-includes

The folder is the wp-content folder. Inside the wp-content folder resides a folder, namely themes. What is this folder for? It is the folder that contains one or more themes that you would use for your WordPress website. You will find three extra folders in the theme folder: twenty-fifteen, twenty-sixteen, and twenty-seventeen. These folders have three themes that WordPress provides by default. Below, there is a folder given with the name custom theme. 

Create a folder in your installation to develop a WordPress theme from scratch. This way, you can go for custom WordPress theme development.

Step 2: Develop style.css and index.php inside the custom theme folder

Now you know where WordPress theme files are located in the file system. You have also developed a new custom theme folder in the themes folder. Now, you will create two empty files in the directory. One is known as index.php, and the other one is style.css.

WordPress goes through all the comments you mention in the style.css file. Here, you specify information regarding the theme you’re creating.

The style.css is a stylesheet (CSS) file for the WordPress theme. It enables the control of the visual appearance and layout of the website.

Below is a snippet to assign a Theme Name, Author, the Author URI and the Version number.



You want to bring some output onto the screen to showcase that the custom theme is working.

Custom Theme

Hurrah! You have developed your first WordPress theme.

Step 3: Run your theme from the WordPress dashboard

Now, go to the WordPress Dashboard and check Appearance-> Themes. You can see the new theme that you’ve created.

Click on “Theme Details” to go on the custom theme and determine whether the information you’ve entered into the style.css file has worked. You can find the theme with a custom theme and a link to the URL.

Continue and click “Activate” present on the new custom theme, and then go to your site. 

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Step 4: Include Code to Output the Post Title and Post Text

At this point, your theme reflects the Custom Theme on the page when you visit the site. Now, consider fetching some data from the database and output it to the page. More precisely, fetch the Post Title and Post Content related to all the posts and see them on the homepage. 

Upscaling the WordPress Loop

The WordPress Loop is an engine that allows WordPress to run. This place WordPress to run through this loop. Theme developers check posts through this loop and display them on the page as required.

Step 5: Include a Link in each Post

You are linking to each post so that you or the visitors can see a post on its own instead of viewing it as a homepage. You can achieve it quickly using the special functions that WordPress offers. 

Step 6: Include a Header and Footer to the Custom Theme

The Title and the Post Content are instrumental in creating a catchy and powerful theme. It is like including a header and footer section into your theme. These sections hold the content visible on all the website’s pages. These sections are reflected above and below the post content. To achieve this, we ensure the use of special functions in WordPress to obtain the header and the footer. 

These commonly used functions are already used in WordPress custom theme development.

Step 7: Include a functions.php file to your theme

Now, you have your files located in the custom theme. These are index.php, style.css, header.php, and footer.php. The other crucial step is to have the functions.php file.

Step 8: Add Great Style to your theme

Now it’s time to give some great style to your theme.

When you visit your test website in the browser, you can see that the WordPress theme you developed looks fantastic.

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