So many people and developers are setting up WordPress websites every day. There are two ways to set up WordPress site. One is the out of the box approach in which people install WordPress, set it up and use a theme exactly as it was made. They start writing blog post soon thereafter. Other people like to customize things a bit. You can also do much through the use of right theme and specific plugins but there can come a time when you want to add few lines of code on your own. How you should proceed about it? We will discuss this in detail here.
If you don’t want to add or edit code yourself in WordPress then you can look for custom WordPress theme development services to get a website with latest and required features. Although the best way to add custom code to your WordPress website depends on number of factors. Now we will discuss all of these factors.
Case 1: You have installed a Theme Someone Else has made
Then you have to add custom code to that theme’s files. But if you update the core, plugin or theme then the changes which you have done will not be there anymore and it would be a huge waste of time. So as you can’t modify the code in the theme then there must be some other way.
Create a Child Theme
If you create a child theme then you will get benefit as it will allow you to add code to the functions.php file and you don’t need to worry about losing the changes after you download WordPress core or theme updates.
Creating the child themes will help you to use hooks which are specific to WordPress and themes for inserting your code so that you won’t face any risk of overwriting your changes.
Child theme is basically a sub-theme to your main installed theme and it is created in straightforward way. To create a child theme, you have to access your site via FTP and create a folder(like themename-child) then create a style.css file that belongs to this folder. This CSS file will take info from the parent theme’s CSS file. After that you just need to activate the child theme in your dashboard. This is how you can add custom code to your site but this option might now work for everyone.
Use a Plugin
If you don’t know how the backend of WordPress works but still like to make some custom code tweaks, you can use a plugin that will let you inset code at some places on your site. If you use a plugin then it will reduce the chances that something will be deleted accidentally. It actually eliminates the whole issue of “update your site and lose your modifications”.
You can use two plugins for this purpose. First is Insert Headers and Footers. This plugin will let you to insert code in the header or footer of your site. This is perfect for people who are trying to setup Google Analytics etc.
The second plugin is Global Content Blocks. This plugin will let you to insert code inside posts and save these code snippets for later use.
There is another plugin called Code Insert Manager and it is ideal for adding code for services like Google Analytics, GetResponse and Aweber.
Create a Plugin
If you want to redesign a website want to maintain the same functionality or you just want to add code somewhere in your website then you can create a plugin to handle it.
You can create a site-specific functionality plugin for custom code instead of putting it in the theme’s functions.php file. In this cutom functionality plugin, you can include custom post types, shortcodes, customizations to the WordPress admin and other required changes
There are many cases when we build custom plugins with only 10-20 lines of code as we want a small feature added and it is important that the feature remains even if the theme is changed.
Case 2: If you have Created your Own Theme:-
In this case, you can insert the code directly into the theme. This has a nice side effect of improvement in the site speed and efficiency. Just editing your theme’s functions.php file whenever you want to make a small change will be enough.
Create a Plugin
This method applies to both those who use other people’s themes and to those who create them on their own. Making a plugin to use with with your own theme has many advantages. It will make it easy for you to turn on or off specific site functionalities if you don’t need it anymore and also it will give you the opportunity to become expert in plugin development. If the code within the plugin you have created is of benefit to other developers then you can consider writing your own brand new plugin and submit it to WordPress to help out others.
The Best Solution:-
Actually it depends on developer to developer. When asked to add custom code to a WordPress site you should use a child theme when you are modifying functions on someone else’s theme or you can use a plugin to add blocks of code into your website or you can create new plugins to add wider side functionality. This way you can create custom sites that stay exactly how you want them to, doesn’t matter what the new updates will be.
As we have just explained, you must now have a broader understanding of how to add custom code to your WordPress website and which method is the best depending upon your current situation.