One of the fundamental issues with anyone trying to build a WordPress site is understanding the separation between layout and content. Let me explain what that means.

I’m sure most of us coming to WordPress are already familiar with Word or another text editing package. When you use one of those packages you can write whatever you want and also style it however you want. If you want a blue heading in a different font, you can make that change and the document will (mostly likely) stay that way.

When you start working in WordPress you will find that you have much less control over the look and feel when you’re working on a post or page. That’s because when you are working on a post or page you are working on content.

Content is text, images, videos, audio files, and so on. It’s stuff you create and add to the page, be-it words or pictures. When you working on content there are things you can do within that editable page, but the things you can change are limited to the options you have in the Block Editor – or with the theme/page builder package.

When you are working on a content block, you can see the block option in the Block options panel. As a rule of thumb, what you see in this block is the full range of customisable options for that block.

If you take a look at the customisable options for three commonly used blocks you can see the options that can/can’t be changed. For example, in the paragraph block you can change x, y, z but not a, b, c.

Likewise, in a gallery block you can customise x, y, z but not a, b, c.

And with a heading, you can change x, y, z but not a, b, c.

So how do you change the fonts, the colors, the blog layout, and so on? This is where you need to work within the Theme.

What is a Theme?

To take control of the design elements you need to be able to customise the Theme. This is what the customizer is all about. Each Theme comes with a variable set of presets. With some you can change the fonts and the colors, and control certain layout elements. What you are able to change or not is entirely dependent on the Theme you have chosen.

A theme is then a template and a defined set of customisable layout and design options. If you take a look at these three screenshots from the customizer section of three different themes you will start to get a feel of just how different they can be.

Once you start to understand this difference you can start to reduce any frustration you have when working on your website!