WordPress has certainly a great platform to build your websites today. Whether you are planning to build a simple informative blog or an online store, you can definitely use WordPress to its full potential.

It comes with countless themes and plugins to make things a lot easier for the webmasters. From the appearance of the website to its functionality, WordPress has got you covered.

Having said that, a majority of webmasters prefer developing their own themes and plugins to make their websites stand out. In addition, there are various developers who develop themes for the WordPress community and help WordPress users to make the most of WP.

Whatever the reason may be, if you are also planning to dive into custom WordPress theme development, there are certain things you need to know.

How does a theme actually work?
Before you get your hands on theme development, you need to know how a theme actually works. This way you would get to know how you need to go about it. Well, as a matter of fact, a theme determines how a website would behave and function. Since the theme is different from the content, you can use the same theme for more than one website irrespective of the content and other functionality of the website. A WordPress theme contains various template files which are usually stored in a theme-named folder. There are two most important files “index.php” and “style.css” that need to be included in the theme folder.

Index.php decides what content should be shown by the theme and style.css decides how your website would look and work. Style.css also contains meta-information about the theme.

There are various other files that many themes normally come equipped with such as header.php, footer.php, functions.php, sidebar.php, single.php, page.php, category.php, and archive.php.

WordPress theme development – How to go about it?
Developing a WordPress theme is no laughing matter provided you have been doing it for quite some time or you know exactly how to go about it. There are various options available for you to develop your theme before you take your system and start coding. To get better and quick results, you need to pick the right approach that will save you time and money plus reduces the number of revisions required afterward.

Major options that are available for developing a theme are:
Build a theme from scratch
A number of developers probably want to go with this option since this seems to be the ultimate solution to your problem. As long as you have an HTML of the theme, this is the most appropriate method for you to develop your theme. However, building a theme from scratch is the most difficult approach if you are a beginner. Make sure when you convert a static website to WordPress theme, you pay close attention to ensure that it’s valid, efficient and clean.

Create your own parent theme
Creating your own parent theme is another popular option of developing a theme. This is a great option for those who are planning to build a set of sites. Creating your own parent theme allows you to create a number of child themes for each website while keeping the same parent theme. If you plan on choosing this approach, you can either develop your parent theme by making changes in the existing theme or building it from scratch.

Modify an existing theme
Modifying an existing theme is similar to creating a child theme of an existing theme, but it is a lot safer. First of all, you can build a brand new theme with the help of an already existing theme. Secondly, you no longer have to delve into other details of developing a theme. Thirdly, it’s an easy and quick way of getting your hands on theme development.

However, developing a theme isn’t all about just modifying the existing theme since it ruins your capability of updating the original theme completely because of the drastic changes you make in the theme. It is a great option for those who are just starting out in the field of theme development and planning to grow gradually.

WordPress theme development is a vast topic and if you are new to it, it always advisable to start with a simpler approach such as modifying the existing theme. This way you can learn and grow quickly.