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How to add custom code snippets in WordPress: A beginners guide

5 minute read

With over 40% of the web powered by WordPress, it’s no surprise that many of us are constantly on the lookout for ways to customize our websites to stand out from the crowd. One way to achieve this is by adding custom code snippets to your WordPress site. Whether you want to enhance functionality, improve user experience, or add a personal touch, a little bit of coding can go a long way.

But wait, before you start panicking at the thought of diving into the world of code – take a deep breath! Even if you’re a beginner, this blog will walk you through the process step by step. By the end of it, you’ll be able to confidently add those custom touches to your site.

What is a custom code snippet?

Before we plunge into the methods of adding these snippets, let’s first understand what we mean by “custom code snippet”.

A custom code snippet is a piece of code, often written in PHP, JavaScript, or CSS, that can be added to your WordPress site to introduce a specific functionality or design change. It’s like a mini-plugin – designed to perform a specific task or make a particular alteration. These snippets can range from something as simple as changing the color of a button to more complex operations, like integrating a third-party API or modifying the way a theme displays content.

Why would you need custom code snippets?

Navigating the world of WordPress, you might wonder: Why not just use available plugins or themes? While WordPress boasts a vast library of plugins and themes, sometimes your specific needs aren’t catered to. Here’s where custom code snippets come into the picture:

  • Bespoke features: Not all functionalities you imagine for your site exist in plugin form. Custom code allows you to build features tailored to your audience, ensuring you don’t have to compromise on your vision.
  • Performance boost: Too many plugins can bloat your site, slowing down its speed. Custom code snippets can offer the same functionality without the excess baggage, ensuring your site remains nimble and fast.
  • Third-party integrations: Want to integrate your site with an external tool or platform? Custom code can act as a bridge, making sure your site communicates seamlessly with third-party applications.
  • Overriding default behavior: Sometimes, you might not agree with the default behavior of a theme or plugin. Custom code snippets allow you to override these defaults, ensuring the user experience is exactly how you want it.
  • Staying updated: Plugins can become outdated, and not all are regularly updated by their developers. If a specific plugin you rely on becomes obsolete, custom code snippets can replicate its functionality, ensuring your site remains current and functional.
  • Unique design elements: While themes dictate the overall appearance of your site, custom code can introduce unique design elements, ensuring your site truly stands out from the crowd.

In essence, custom code snippets empower you with unmatched flexibility. They ensure your WordPress site isn’t just another drop in the ocean but stands as a distinct entity, perfectly aligned with your brand’s ethos and objectives.

Choosing the right method

Adding custom code snippets to your WordPress site can seem like a daunting task, especially with multiple avenues available. However, your choice of method should resonate with your comfort level, the complexity of the customizations, and how frequently you’ll be updating the code. Here’s a more in-depth look into the common methods:

  • Child Theme: A child theme is essentially a sub-theme that inherits all the functionalities and styling of its parent theme.
    • Safety: With a child theme, you can modify or add custom code without affecting the parent theme. This ensures that when the parent theme gets an update, your customizations remain unaffected.
    • Flexibility: Customize almost every aspect of your site using a child theme, from styling to functionality.
    • Revertible: If an error occurs or you change your mind, you can easily deactivate the child theme and revert to the parent theme.
  • Custom Code Plugins: If you’re not comfortable editing theme files directly, plugins like “Code Snippets”, “WP Code” or “Simple Custom CSS and JS” can come in handy. Simply install the plugin, add your code, and let the plugin handle the rest.
    • User-friendly: They often come with easy-to-use interfaces, making the process straightforward even for beginners.
    • Isolation: If a snippet causes issues, deactivate it within the plugin. This makes troubleshooting simpler.
    • Organization: Manage, categorize, and label your custom snippets for easier recall and handling.
  • Functions.php File: This is where your theme’s core functionalities lie.
    • Direct Control: Introduce immediate changes to your site’s operations.
    • Speed: With direct edits, there are no extra layers like with plugins. This can offer slightly better performance.
    • Caution Needed: Mistakes here can break your site. Always backup and, if possible, work in a staging environment.
  • Customizer: WordPress Customizer is a real-time page editor that allows you to make changes and see a preview before finalizing them.
    • User-friendly Interface: The Customizer provides a graphical interface that’s easy to navigate, and ideal for those less familiar with code.
    • Real-time Previews: As you make changes, you can instantly see how they affect your site, ensuring you’re happy with the modifications before publishing.
    • Built-in Safety: If there’s an error in the code, WordPress will often notify you before you can publish it, reducing the risk of breaking your site.
    • Limitation: While convenient, the Customizer might not be as versatile for complex custom code as some of the other methods.

When choosing a method, consider your long-term goals. If you’re planning sporadic changes and prefer a hands-off approach, plugins might suit you. But, if you’re aiming for deeper, more frequent customizations, a child theme or direct edits could be more appropriate. Always weigh the benefits against potential risks, and choose a method that aligns with your comfort and expertise.


Adding custom code snippets to WordPress might seem daunting at first, but with the right guidance and a touch of patience, it’s within every site owner’s reach. Remember, the key is to always back up, choose the method that’s right for you, and don’t be afraid to seek help when needed. Happy coding and customizing your Happyforms-powered WordPress site!

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