When I started out creating my own WordPress themes, I did so by looking at other people’s themes. Sometimes the Codex only gets you so far, right? And I’d be amazed by the settings pages people would create for their themes so that users could customize them and make them completely their own (I still somewhat suck at the whole settings page thing). And it would be pretty straightforward, right? Another list item would appear either in the main menu of the dashboard or under Appearance which the users could click and they would be taken to the settings page of their theme.
But ever since WordPress has introduced their built-in customizer (added in WordPress 3.4), I think it has become a bit more confusing for users. Especially if you have not registered your settings page as a top-level menu item. With the customizer, there is a new menu item directly embedded in the Appearance section of your dashboard. It’s the second item from the top and it’s simply called Customize.
And this is the point where I think people might get confused. It seems to be an automatic decision to go to the customize section instead of a theme’s settings page. Knowing this, you want to make your user experience as easy and relatable as possible. Employing the theme customizer built into WordPress, then, seems to be the perfect solution.
In the end, you want to make your themes as accessible as possible and whether you do that with the Customizer or with a separate settings page. But even then, some market places might even require you to use the Customizer now as it is a requirement if you want to submit your theme to the Theme Repository on WordPress.org.
Usually, you want your themes to have as long a life as possible and that means keeping up with the changes WordPress is making to the core. This is one of the reasons why I would definitely recommend anyone getting into the process of creating WordPress themes to get to know the Customizer API and leverage its power in the theme.
What do you think about the Theme Customizer that WordPress has built into its core in 3.4? Do you use it in your client projects or premade themes? Let me know in the comments!