Flexible, Customisable WordPress Themes


NOTE: This article was originally written in May 2018. Since then, all the themes I looked at have continued to develop, and the new WordPress block editor has been introduced. I have not updated any of the information on the OceanWP theme.

Out of the Box

Again, it’s a pretty plain starting point but possibly a bit more visually appealing that the other two themes before any customisation.

Site Identity

It appears that you have to choose to display either the site title and tagline or a logo, so I used the logo version with text.  There are sliders to change the logo size, but only upto a maximum width of 500px.

The information in the footer can be altered.


The free theme includes quite a lot of colour options, spread around the various areas of the customiser – which can make it a bit tricky to find them.

Colours can be changed for elements such as page titles, forms, buttons, the top bar, header, navigation menu, sidebar, widgets and footer.


I wasn’t surprised to see that the free OceanWP theme provides a lot of options for choosing fonts (including sizes, weights, line height etc.) for a great many elements on a website.

Background Images

This is one case where the free theme does not seem to provide options, apart from the overall background of the site and a header background image. In fact, I couldn’t see a paid extension for adding background images either, so I think you’d need to use CSS code for this.

Navigation Menus

OceanWP has both a top bar and a footer bar menu in addition to the main menu.

The free OceanWP theme includes a range of hover effects for the menu.

There’s a Sticky Header extension available for purchase and you can also buy a Side Panel extension which could be used in a similar way to GeneratePress Premium’s slideout navigation.


There are a whole load of layout related options included in the free theme. Some of these can be changed globally and there are also lots of options that can be set for individual pages, including disabling the page title and even showing different logos, menus and sidebars on different pages.

There are settings for changing the padding of various sections throughout the customiser.

Widget Areas

This theme gives you right and left sidebars, a special search results sidebar and four footer widget areas.

There’s an interesting feature, where you can set any of these widget areas as the sidebar on an individual page. For example, you can add widgets to Footer 4 but only display three footer widgets on your site, then specify that Footer 4 is used as the sidebar on a specific page.

What’s more, OceanWP has a free Custom sidebar extension which can be used to make as many different sidebars as you require. You could use this to put different sidebars on individual pages without using up one of the footer widgets as I described above.

The free Ocean Extra plugin gives you some new widgets such as the “About Me” one, that I have added to the default Right Sidebar in the example below.

Blog Options

The blog has three styles: large image (which I’m not too keen on as it upsizes images, which affects their quality), thumbnail and grid. Choosing grid gives you extra options including whether or not to have a masonry layout, which elements to display and what order to show them in.

I couldn’t see any blog specific extensions to purchase, except for the Posts Slider.


The OceanWP documentation recommends that you use a page builder plugin to build templates for your custom headers. However, for this quick test, I just used an image and the logo and navigation shortcodes that are provided.

Custom headers can be applied to individual pages.


Hooks are available with a paid OceanWP extension.

The free theme also has an interesting feature – when editing an individual page, shortcodes can be displayed in various positions on the page.

9 thoughts on “Flexible, Customisable WordPress Themes”

  1. Landed here from /r/WordPress. The post is archived, so just wanted to comment and say terrific article! So few reviews talk about the customization options, and what is free versus requires premium. As someone who creates a lot of WordPress sites this was one of the most helpful reviews I’ve seen in a while. Thanks!


Leave a comment