Why you need a WordPress Child Theme, and how to create your own

0 comment Published on October 28th, 2016

Do you know that when you directly modify a WordPress theme to match your own personality vision for your website before updating to its newest available version, you will lose all your modifications on the theme once the update is completed? Therefore, you need a child theme to ensure that all your modifications are retained after updating your theme.

What is a WordPress child theme?

A child theme is any website theme that serves as a modification to the original or parent theme, while retaining the original themes’ functionalities, features, templates and styles, and is independent of all update on the parent theme. A child theme is the best approach to modifying an existing theme so that you will not lose your modifications after an update.

Why do you need a WordPress child theme?

There are few reasons why you would want or need to use child theme, some of these reasons include:

  1. Safe Updates: A child theme retains the features, functionalities, style and templates of its parent theme; hence, you can create changes on the child theme without affecting the parent theme. Therefore, when updating a recent version of the parent theme, your changes on the child theme will be retained.
  2. Easy to Extend: When a child theme is built under a strong theme framework, you can enjoy a great deal of flexibility when modifying the features, functionalities, styling or templates that you need without disturbing any other functionalities, templates, etc.
  3. Fallback Safe: When creating a WordPress theme, you will need to understand the scenarios and the codes to make them function. However, this is not the same when creating a child theme; all you need is a reference to the parent theme functionalities, which serves as a fallback option whenever you get confused.

How to create your own WordPress child theme

We would offer you the systematic guides on how to create your own WordPress child theme on the assumption that you have basic knowledge on HTML, CSS and how web hosting works.

  1. Plan the Changes You Want to Effect on the Parent Theme: Planning for the changes you want to effect means that you need to understand the developer tools that are available to you, understand what you want to change, and how to go about the changes. Let’s take for instance that you are want to modify Twenty Sixteen WordPress theme, you will define what you don’t like about the theme that you would like to change let’s say font, border color, etc. You will also need to identify the CSS class to manipulate to give you the right changes.
  2. Create Your Child Theme Folder and Files: When creating a child theme, you will be required to create the style.css file first. The CSS file is to contain all the relevant information that pertains to the child theme you want to create. For example:
    • Theme name: Twenty Sixteen Child
    • Theme URL: https://www.yourdomain.com/twentysixteen-child/
    • Description: My twenty sixteen child theme
    • Author: John
    • Template: https://www.yourdomain.com/john
    • Version: 1.0
    • Tags: Border color change
    • Text Domain: twentysixteen-child.

While filling out the information you can follow our examples, but when naming a child theme, the recommended practice is to add the appendix “-child” to the name, so that WordPress will identify the child theme automatically.

You can now use the CSS classes in your style to make the necessary changes to the font and the theme color, after which you will create the functions.php files to ensure that the child theme share the same style with the parent theme.

  1. Upload Your Child Theme To WordPress: Since you have succeeded in creating a folder in your wordpress web hosting account containing style.css and functions.php files, you can now compress them to a zip file and upload to your website by clicking on Appearance, select Themes, and Add New respectively. Now you have succeeded in creating a child theme.

Creating a child theme is very easy to accomplish; it takes one CSS file and some codes to transform your WordPress team to a custom child theme. However, if you want to create a child theme from a parent theme, and it requires transforming the whole content of the parent theme, which would lead to lots of coding, then you should rethink your motives, because you are no longer creating a child theme but a custom theme, and you are no-longer using the original theme as a parent theme but as a starter theme.

Therefore, child themes are a little modification to the parent themes because you value the awesomeness of the parent theme but needs a little modification to make it more interesting.