Here is the scenario: Suppose you want to create a new website using the latest and greatest technology available. You have found a popular WordPress theme that meets your needs and have purchased it. The theme demo looks great, but you want to make aesthetic changes to fit your brand.
The question: Should you make direct changes and edits to the parent theme that you have installed into WordPress?
The simple answer: No, use a WordPress child theme.
This article discusses the benefits of using a WordPress child theme and explains why this is important when designing and developing a new website. Let’s explore what a WordPress child theme is, and when and why you should use it.
What is the Difference Between a WordPress Parent Theme and a WordPress Child Theme?
A child theme acts as a copy of the parent theme and has all the functionality and styling of the original parent. Using a child theme allows you to override the parent theme files to ensure that you will never lose changes to your website after a parent theme update (since you’re never actually modifying the original parent files).
A child’s theme functionality overrides the parent’s theme so that the child’s functionality will be applied to your website. But, if the functionality doesn’t exist in the child theme, WordPress will look into the parent’s files and go with that which is coded there.
Why Should You Use a WordPress Child Theme?
All WordPress themes – excluding child themes – are considered parent themes. Parent themes are often updated to keep up with technological improvements and security patches. Modifying a parent theme even slightly prevents you from updating it to a newer version in the future because if you do update it, you lose all your changes. When changes are made to a child theme you ensure that your modifications are preserved.
When Should You Use a WordPress Child Theme?
Using a child theme speeds up development time because you’re not reinventing the wheel. A child theme lets you upgrade the parent theme without affecting the alterations you’ve made to your site. You simply make the alterations to only that which you want to change from the active child theme you are using.
Most purchased themes come with a pre-made child theme along with the parent theme. Make sure to let your designer know to install both the parent and child theme into WordPress, and to activate the child theme as the primary WordPress theme before beginning the web design and development of your website.
If you are new to building and hosting websites, you may want to ask some questions first before making a final decision. An expert in this decision-making process is the WordPress designers and developers at Golden Oak Web Design. Contact us for a free consultation.