WordPress is one of the best content management systems of all-time. With a long-range of themes and plugins for almost everything available throughout the web, it is always considered the go-to platform for powering a website.
Like every other content management system out there, there is more than just customization on a website that helps it succeed in an ever-competitive digital world. But it is debatable that looks do compel a visitor to either stay or leave and that is what we will focus on today. The main topic here is new WordPress child themes.
What Is Child Theme?
A child theme is a special kind of WordPress theme that uses all of the design elements of its parent theme. A child theme without customization is identical to its parent.
How it works: You have a WordPress theme, but you want to make customization as you want, but doing so creates a big problem in that WordPress themes are continuously updated. If you customize your theme, then update it, there’s a good chance that all of your changes will be vanish.
You might think that you will just avoid your theme updates. WordPress themes get updated for many reasons: to conform to new WordPress coding standards, to fix bugs, and to fix security issues so avoiding updates is a risky proposition.
Avoiding updates could break your site or even you will open a gate for hacking. In other words, theme updates aren’t optional. If you want to maintain a risk-free and secure WordPress site, you need to install theme updates as they become available.
By making changes to a child theme, you ensure that you can safely update your theme while maintaining site security and protecting your hard work because now your customization will be safe.
When Do I Need A Child Theme?
Here’s the thing that creates the most confusion: You don’t always need a child theme.
So, how do you know that you a child theme or not? The answer to this question depends on how you customize your theme.
Have you, or do you plan to, modify your theme’s code? That includes any of the following:
- Edit the theme’s CSS stylesheet.
- It edit any of the theme’s PHP templates.
- Edit the theme’s functions.php file. Even just to add a single line of code.
If your answer is yes to any of these questions then you need a child theme.
On the other hand, if your theme customizations are made exclusively through the WordPress dashboard then you don’t need a child theme. That changes made by the Theme Customizer (confusing, I know) are also included in this. The Theme Customizer doesn’t change your theme files.
The changes made by the Theme Customizer, or a theme settings page that is stored in a database. That means theme updates won’t overwrite your changes.
Picking A Good Parent Theme Is IMPORTANT
While any WordPress theme can have child themes, not all of them are can be used as theme frameworks. We have seen many beginners who made this mistake of creating a child theme of a parent theme that doesn’t offer much functionality.
If you are creating a child theme and you are replacing a lot of the parent theme files, then you need to rethink your process. For example, you really like the Twenty Eleven theme, and you decided to create a child theme with it. In your child theme, you had the style.css file and functions.php file and you decided to change the footer and header looks, so added footer.php and header.php, etc. In this case, you shouldn’t be using Twenty Eleven as a parent theme. Rather you should use it as a starter theme that you change in your own custom theme.
We have many users who have created a custom child theme which should be a completely free custom theme because they override almost all the original theme files.
In short, you need a powerful parent theme that has functionality, features, and awesomeness and you can make a child theme without writing much code for it yourself.
Benefits Of Using A Child Theme
A child theme can speed up development
When the new version of the parent arrived, you can easily update it because modifications are already saved in the child theme.
A child theme automatically inherits the parent’s theme styles, features, and functionality. You can quickly make changes to your website without touching the parent’s theme files.
If you are creating a whole theme, then you have to take care of all the possible scenarios, but after creating a child theme, forgot something then you can add that functionality in your parent theme.
It is important to know that even you can create a child theme of any WordPress theme, but sometimes you may not need a child theme. Think about the number of changes that you want to add for your child theme, if the changes you are minor, then you can always create a
custom-style.css file in your theme or you can use a Custom CSS plugin. If the changes are very extreme where you find yourself overwriting the original theme files, then you should probably create a custom theme.