Customizing Themes

It is very convenient that Drupal offers so many nice-looking themes. Having a functional site that looks nice without needing to do any work is a great luxury, especially if your site's appearance isn't your main focus. However, most people will want their sites to have a unique look to them—something that sets the site apart from others and contributes to the site's identity. Learning to customize existing themes or make new ones will greatly add to the quality of your Drupal experience.

The most common way to theme a Drupal site is to start with an existing theme and add your own elements. By testing several existing themes and choosing the one that brings you closest to your goals, you often save hours of work. You won't need to worry about the basics, such as deciding how many columns to use, whether the design should be fixed width or flexible, the size of the header, and so on. By modifying an existing theme, you can work incrementally, changing one element at a time, slowly morphing it into an original creation. Many of the trickier problems will have already been solved by the theme's original author.

On the other hand, a finished theme is often an intricate web of templates and style sheet information. If you find yourself spending a lot of time stripping away other people's ideas and longing for a clean slate, starting from scratch is not difficult and gives you the greatest control over your theme.

Whether you decide to modify an existing theme or make your own, a good understanding of how themable functions and templates work will be necessary, especially if you intend to modify the HTML that is being output.

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