If you stumble onto this article, you may already have some basic (or even expert) knowledge of WordPress and its structure. However, before I dwell too deep as to why we should or not use a child theme, let me give you an overview.
If you know anything about WordPress, you know it absolutely requires you to have a theme.
But, what is a theme you may ask?
What’s a theme?
Well, it’s simply what allows you to personalize and change the look and feel of your website.
We’re talking colors, layout, fonts, pictures and anything that your visitor will see on your site. It takes your content and basically makes it pretty and up to your visual standards. There are thousands and thousands of available themes in the WordPress directory and each have their own style and special features. You can purchase some, you can find some for free and you can even make yours (if you’re up for the challenge). Really, as long as the theme has all the required WordPress templates files included, you’re good to go.
Now, that you know what a theme is (more or less). We can talk about parents and children.
If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry. We’re getting to it.
What is a parent theme?
A parent theme is a complete theme which includes all of the required WordPress files and assets for the theme to actually work. And as you may have guessed it, all themes are really just parent themes.
Unless they’re child themes.
So, what is a child theme ?
Well, WordPress.org gives us a very simple explanation : A child theme allows you to change small aspects of your site’s appearance yet still preserve your theme’s look and functionality. In this way, customizations are kept separate from the parent theme’s files. Using a child theme lets you upgrade the parent theme without affecting the customizations you’ve made to your site.
Yes, it really does make sense. When you download or buy a theme, they often come up with core updates or security updates.
Actually, the best themes on the market are updated quite often.
Which leads to the amazing roles a child theme play:
- It makes your modifications portable and replicable;
- It keeps customization separate from parent theme functions;
- It allows parent themes to be updated without destroying your modifications;
- It allows you to take advantage of the effort and testing put into parent theme;
- It saves on development time since you are not recreating the wheel; and
- It is a great way to start learning about theme development.
That’s right, child themes are amazing when you plan on customizing the theme you purchased or made, without worrying about losing the changes when the parent theme gets updated.
I would suggest creating one just in case as soon as you start working on your customizations and then work from there, (you’ll thank me later).
If you wonder how to create a child theme, the resources for developers on wordpress are awesome and very clear. I will link it below.
Now you know that if you can’t find the perfect theme for you, you can always make changes to any of them without losing the changes ever! Yay.