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1.2 Theme Options Page vs. WordPress Customizer

As mentioned in the course introduction, the WordPress customizer is probably the easiest option for customizing the front-end. The main reason is that it’s built in; you don’t need to install additional plugins to use it. Additionally, it has a great live preview on the side that makes customizing really intuitive.

A theme options page, on the other hand, is custom, which means you need to need to hard code it in the theme files or use it as a separate plugin.

Let’s find out which is better.

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1.2 Theme Options Page vs. WordPress Customizer

As i mentioned in the course introduction of the built in work press customizer is probably the easiest method of customizing the front-end. The main reason for that is the fact that you don't need to install additional plugins to use it. It comes by default with WordPress plus it has this great live preview on the side that makes customizing orally simple. A theme options page on the hand is custom which means, you need to either hard code it into your theme or use it as a separate plugin. Now, people haven't been using theme option pages way before the customizer because the latter was only introduced in version 3.4. So the question is, which one should you use? Theme options page or the customizer? Well, in my opinion, you should use both. Here's the tricky part. In theory, they both do the same thing. They allow you to change the front end by using certain settings. They are saved in the database. Practically, however, you should be using the customizer for settings that will offer immediate visual feedback. For example, changing a color theme, changing the fonts, changing the logo. So by changing those things, we get an immediate feedback from the preview. On the other hand, a theme option's page should be used for settings that do not offer that immediate feedback. What instead change things behind the scenes. For example, social media links or a nominal contact form address right. Those are the kinds of things that's belong in a theme options page rather than the customizer. Now, let's have a look at some pros and cons of using these two and see which one would work best for you. First of all, if you're dealing with a large number of options and by large, I mean like 15, 20, 30 options and above, of course, then you're better off using a theme options page because there're simply Isn't enough room in the customizer to have a good user experience with it. The customizer is just that tiny window on the left side of your preview. And while you can organize it with different subpages and stuff like that, it doesn't compare to a theme options page, which can have tabbed navigation. It can have toggle slides. And it has a much bigger surface to display those settings on. Second, it's easier to create custom controls and layouts in a theme options page. Now, if you have lot of options that change the visual appearance of your website then customizer is awesome because you have all the options readily available on the left side. And then you have that big preview which lets you see those changes in real time. This is where a theme options page isn't so good because while you can change any setting you can change from the customizer you don't get that immediate feedback. You have to save the changes, open the website in your browser or in your tablet or whatever and see how those changes impact your website. And then if you don't like something, you need to go back to the theme options page, change stuff, save again, go back. You get the point. It's a little bit harder to get that feedback from a themes options page. Another pro of using the customizer is the fact that is built in, so you don't need to install anything else. Now, these are just a few pros and cons. I hope they give you a pretty good idea of What's the difference between the two and which one would be best for you to use? As I was saying, I think you should use both for different types of settings. Now, this course will focus solely on how to build a theme options page but if you're interested in the customizer, check out the lesson notes for some relevant links. Now, let's have a look at some existing solutions when it comes to theme options pages. We'll do that in the next lesson.