For many years, the WordPress Customizer was rather lackluster in terms of functionality. However, the WordPress 4.5 update has transformed the feature into a powerful front end editor that can be used to quickly kickstart WordPress projects from scratch.

With the new WordPress Customizer, you can drastically change the appearance and functionality of your WordPress website from one, manageable interface. That includes making changes to page elements including your site title, background image, and menus.

In this post, we’ll guide you through the basics of how to use the WordPress Customizer by making use of its most powerful features:

How to access the WordPress Customizer

To get to the WordPress Customizer, navigate to Appearance / Customize from your WordPress dashboard. You will be taken directly to the Customizer interface, with your theme preview on the right, and the Customizer menu on the left:

Viewing the Customizer Interface

How to use the WordPress customizer

Now that you have accessed your WordPress Customizer page, let’s take a look at how to use the WordPress Customizer to quickly launch or modify a website.

Just one more thing before we get cracking – note that the Customizer’s functionality relies largely on how much effort the active theme’s developers have put into utilizing it.

IsleMag

Configure Site Identity and design

First up, we have site identity, which gives you control over the name and tagline of your WordPress website. Navigate to Site Identity to get started.

You can fill out the two fields under Site Title and Tagline, and immediately see the results on the preview window on the right. Furthermore, you can upload a favicon or site icon from this interface. Once you’re done, simply click Save & Publish:

Changing the site title with WordPress customizer

Manage menus

The WordPress Customizer also enables you to configure your website’s menus. To get started, click on Menus on the WordPress Customizer menu.

To create your website’s first menu, click Add a Menu, type in your menu’s name, and then click Create Menu:

Creating a menu using WordPress customizer

Now that you have created your menu, you can click on the name of it to adjust its settings:

Viewing WordPress Menu Settings

The WordPress Customizer will enable you to do a number of things with your new menu. You can change the name, adjust the order of the menu options, add new options, configure its location, and specify if you would like WordPress to automatically update it when future top-level pages are created.

Viewing WordPress Menu Settings

It’s an extremely comprehensive set of configurations, squeezed quite comfortably into a small and manageable interface – a perfect example of the WordPress Customizer’s usefulness.

Swap website colors

The colors used by your WordPress theme can also be modified, which will greatly impact the design of your website without much effort at all. To do this, head over to Colors on the Customizer menu.

Depending on how many colors your theme makes use of, you can freely change them all before previewing the results via the window on the right. The IsleMag theme, for example, enables you to swap out colors for the titles used across the website:

Changing WordPress Theme colors

Set single post settings

As well as simplifying settings that are found elsewhere on your WordPress back end, the WordPress Customizer also has some features that you won’t be able to modify anywhere else. Your website’s single post settings are one example of this.

By clicking Single Post Settings on the WordPress Customizer menu, you’ll see what we mean.

The next interface enables you to make some small yet important changes to the way your blog posts are displayed on your website. You can configure your settings to hide the author’s description, hide related posts, and hide post thumbnails within the page itself:

Changing WordPress post settings

Modify a background image

If your theme makes use of a background image, the WordPress Customizer lets you make changes to that, too. Click on Background Image to get started.

Once again, the WordPress Customizer shows its power by enabling you to swap out your background image and configure a range of display options from within the same, small interface.

Interestingly, you can also configure your background image to Scroll. This essentially gives your background image a parallax effect, a popular website design trend that gives your website some depth:

Changing WordPress Background Options

Mobile and tablet previews

Last but certainly not least, let’s take a look at the WordPress Customizer’s mobile and tablet preview options.

By default, the Customizer will display your website preview in desktop mode. However, if you use the icons at the bottom of the WordPress Customizer, you can switch between desktop, tablet, and mobile view:

WordPress Customizer Preview icons

For example, by clicking on the tablet icon, the preview window on the right will quickly transform, showing you how your website will look to visitors using tablet devices:

Viewing the WordPress Tablet Preview

Conclusion

WordPress is renowned for being a relatively easy CMS to use, and the Customizer is now arguably its most approachable feature.

As you can gather from the guide above, it empowers you to do a variety of website-transforming tasks within a very simple interface. So, if you aren’t making use of the WordPress Customizer, you may be wasting quite some time doing those same customizations elsewhere on the WordPress back end.

The next time you kickstart a WordPress project, bear in mind that you can use the Customizer to:

  1. configure your site’s identity and appearance,
  2. manage site menus,
  3. swap website colors,
  4. specify single post options,
  5. modify a background image,
  6. preview your website in desktop, mobile, and tablet mode.