WordPress theme development is a lucrative field in the web design industry – that gives designers as well as developers the opportunity to work on different themes and earn profits from it. However, it is important for the developers to have knowledge about customizing the theme as well. This is simply because, you need to modify the look and feel of your site so that it make it stand out from the rest and match up to your audience needs.

Fortunately, WordPress provides plenty of options to extend the functionality of themes. One best option you can use to extend WordPress themes capability is to add custom code by providing various action hooks. In this post, we’ll discuss about how we can use them during custom development. But, before understanding how you can use action hooks to meet your theme development needs, let’s first understand its role in web design and the type of action hooks.

Purpose Behind Using Hooks

There are a dozen of WordPress themes (both free and premium themes) available over the web, and you can choose one that contains all necessary features and functions as you’ve envisioned. But, what if you can’t find such a perfect theme with all the essential elements? In that case you will have to most likely customize the theme to make it work as per your own needs. For instance, let’s say, you have downloaded or purchased a WordPress theme that features a clean and minimal design, but you don’t like the built-in social media icons.

WordPress provides several types of hooks to help you make the theme adapt to your own requirements.

Type of Hooks and Understanding their Importance in Custom Development

WordPress allows developers to make changes to the theme by adding custom code with the help of various hooks. You need to add your custom code in your theme’s functions.php file (ideally your child theme functions file) or to a plugin that you’re creating on your own. All of the WordPress hooks are specified in two different forms: filters and actions.

Actions: WordPress use action hooks to remove some existing elements or add new ones in your website (theme or administration screen) in accord to your needs. In order to define an action hook, you need to use add_action function in your theme’s functions.php file. On the other hand, you can execute the action hook using the do_action hook.

Let us now look at an example to understand why you need WordPress action hook at the time of custom development.

Example: Changing Theme Design Without Modifying the Code

Plugging action hooks to a WordPress theme, enables plugin developers to easily embed new sections and content to the theme. But, what if someone you want to alter/change an existing section?

Let’s assume, you’re running a WordPress blog page, including several components such as post date and name of the author underneath the title. Additionally, the page contains several categories and tags. However, you don’t like all those components are positioned in your design and want to create your own design. Now, if the sections containing the components are inserted into the theme directly, then it will give plugin developers a hard time to modify the design without making changes to the core code. In that case implementing an action hook seems a viable alternative.

Let’s take an example to see how an action hook serves as a great solution to meet your customization needs to change theme design:

// Code for Post title will come here
// Post content

In this code, you can see that all of the sections are defined in the form of action hooks rather than getting directly inserted into the HTML document. Next, for implementing the action hook (i.e. post_date_and_author), we just need to add following code in the theme functions file:

function post_date_and_author(){
echo "HTML Code related to Date area";

Finally, we’ll just replace the existing components and add new ones to the theme.

function wpr_post_date_and_author(){
echo "New design for date section by the plugin";
function wpr_remove_custom_actions() {

Filters: WordPress utilizes filters to modify any piece of data prior to adding it to the database or browser screen. Filters are basically a function that is associated with some existing action. You need to use add_filter() function to define a filter hook and apply_filters() function for executing the filter hook.

Below is an example that demonstrates the need of using WordPress filter hook during custom development.

Example: Adding a “Follow me on Twitter” Link

The most commonly used WordPress filter is “the_content” filter which makes changes to the post content before it is being sent to the browser. Most importantly, it is used for adding social sharing buttons at the top or bottom of the content.

You might have stumbled upon many WordPress websites that contains a “Follow me on Twitter!” link. If you too are interested in adding such a link to the bottom of your WordPress blog posts, then you can do so simply by using the the_content filter as follows:

add_filter('the_content', 'myplugin_the_content');
function myplugin_the_content($content) {
$output = $content;
$output .= '

‘; $output .= ‘Follow me on Twitter!‘; $output .= ‘

‘; return $output; }


Here’s hoping that reading this post will help you learn about the basics of the WordPress’ hooks and why they are needed during custom development of your website. allows you to do.