So what the hell is a Child theme?
A child theme allows you to change small aspects of your site’s appearance. Yet still preserve your theme’s look and functionality.
To understand how child themes work, it is first important to understand the relationship between parent and child themes.
What is a Parent Theme?
A parent theme is a complete theme. It includes all of the required WordPress template files and assets for the theme to work.
All themes – excluding child themes – are considered parent themes.
What is a Child Theme?
As indicated in the overview, the child inherits the look and feel of the parent theme.
It includes all of its functions, but can be used to make modifications to any part of the theme.
In this way, customizations are kept separate from the parent theme’s files.
A Child theme usually contains only the changed or modified lines of code that override the Parent theme.
The Child can in reality have very few files.
This makes it so much easier to work with than editing the Parent theme.
A parent theme can have many thousands of lines of text to wade through.
Using the child lets you upgrade the parent theme without affecting the customizations you’ve made to your site.
Creating a Child Theme is relatively easy. See the tutorial for the full guide.
Child themes benefits:
- make your modifications portable and replicable;
- keep customization separate from parent theme functions;
- allow parent themes to be updated without destroying your modifications;
- allow you to take advantage of the effort and testing put into parent theme;
- save on development time since you are not recreating the wheel; and
- are a great way to start learning about theme development.
Child themes Cons
The best option if you’re
- a WordPress veteran who’s comfortable using CSS.
- If you’re not intimidated by CSS, you’ll probably want to set up a child theme and edit its stylesheet manually.
- If you are a beginner, this path can be a steep learning curve becoming familiar with new concepts adding frustration at a time when you would prefer a less taxing solution.
But don’t let the Cons scare you from using Child as your Theme.
If you are handy at using copy and paste, that works for a vast number of WordPress users who don’t have time to learn coding.
Keep in mind that these are just guidelines, and you should feel free to use whatever approach feels most comfortable to you.
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