After receiving several emails and comments from readers about customizing different themes, i thought it would be a good idea to write about what some of the popular theme providers offer in the way of support for customization.
We’ll take a brief look at what Woo, Genesis/StudioPress and Thesis offer.
We’ll also take a look at what some of the popular free theme providers offer and weigh up the difference.
Firstly, here’s a few lines from Woo themes support policy:
If you are requesting customization help which only requires us to publish a couple lines of code (typically through CSS), we will be glad to assist you. If however your query requires more than that amount of code to be published, we can only provide guidance. Source
Now lets take a look at the forum support policy for Genesis/StudioPress.
Rule #3: If you ask questions about customization, be aware that we might suggest you hire someone to help you. We’ll do our best to answer those questions that don’t require major modification and testing, but our priority lies with people having immediate issues with the themes. Source:
Thesis Forum Guidelines – A note about the distinction between “Support” and “Customization”:
Customization assistance is not guaranteed; while most of the basic questions in this area will typically receive answers, more complicated requests may require you to take the initiative to learn PHP, HTML, and CSS, rather than expecting that someone here in the forums will voluntarily do this type of creative work for you. (That kind of coding expertise is in high enough demand that most people could easily charge for doing it if they wanted, so if someone does go above and beyond to help you for free, profuse thanks are definitely in order!) Source:
Customization & Support for Free Themes
No doubt there’s some helpful people working on free forums like WordPress.org and other popular WordPress help forums.
Based on my experience, WordPress.org offers the best support for themes like Twenty Eleven and Twenty Twelve.
If you’re using another free theme, you’ll need to do a bit of research and find out how helpful the theme developer has been with questions relating to customization and web design.
You might also want to find a blog which specializes in web design and customization for the theme you’re using.
Further Reading – The Cost of Free
The Best Theme Customization Support
The support policies for popular premium theme providers are very conservative. Based on my experience, you’ll receive excellent support (far above what the policies state) for customizing a Thesis or Genesis child theme. This support comes from the community forums, user guides and theme specific tutorials written by the theme developers and web designers who specialize in their themes.
In respect of Woo themes, i’ve found the customization support is exactly as what they state in their policy. A couple of lines of CSS is what you’ll get, no more.
However, i haven’t had much experience with their community forum support as far as customization and web design questions are concerned.
This is why you need to choose carefully as you might need to learn how to write custom functions and CSS depending on which theme you choose.
WordPress.com Free Hosted Theme Customization
WordPress.com users can also customize their themes.
I’m not familiar with how this works however you may be interested in read more about how this works here.
PHP and CSS Customization
Generally, tutorials offering CSS can be used on most themes but not all because they use different selectors.
Customizing your theme using php using any code you find on the web may not always work because different themes use different action hooks and filters.
One of the benefits of choosing a premium theme framework is the ease of customization provided when using a hook plugin, code snippets, theme specific tutorials and community support forums.
If you take a look at the answers provided by members of the best premium theme communities, you’ll find the code snippets and hooks help you more easily customize your theme compared to editing your themes template files which is normally the case when using a free theme.
The Value In Premium Theme Community Forums
If you rely on your site to make money by selling products or offering services then you need customers/clients who are willing to pay.
This is a healthy ecosystem where everyone wins.
Being involved in a community where everyone has already invested in a theme is different to being involved in a community where everyone hasn’t.
Here’s some of the benefits you can experience as a member of a quality theme forum community:
- You save time because you receive answers to specific questions quickly.
- You join a community of people that are willing to spend money for quality products and hire experts to complete different projects.
- You get access to code snippets and tutorials tested by the theme developer.
- You can use all these resources to more easily customize your theme and avoid frustration, errors and messing up your site.
- You’ll learn faster and also learn from people who use best practice.
- The goals you set out to achieve in respect of your own website are more easily achievable in a shorter space of time.
How About You?
What has been your experience with theme customization and support?
Which is your favorite theme community forum and why?