WordPress offers a multitude of features which allow you to develop a website/blog that’s completely user-friendly and search engine friendly. One such feature which has impressed web developers across the globe is the flexibility to modify any WordPress theme. WordPress is indeed the best web development platform which comes equipped with several hooks that can be implemented with complete ease. Child themes are one of the most recommended ways of making modifications to a WordPress theme. Keep reading this post to find more about Child themes and their significance to a WordPress developer.
A Closer Look at Child Themes
Serving as a developer-friendly mechanism of tweaking WordPress themes, child theme is basically a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of a different theme called parent theme. The basic idea of using a child theme is to avail the convenience of modifying and adding new functionality into the parent theme without modifying its code in any way. In simple words, all the changes are being done using child theme with the parent theme remaining intact. It is important to note that every WordPress theme can have child themes but not all WordPress themes are considered good parent themes. Here, the term ‘good parent theme’ refers to a WordPress theme framework which contains its own set of action hooks and filters-allowing designers and developers to create custom WordPress website using simple-to-use child themes.
A Brief on Creating Child Themes
A child theme comprises of a directory called child theme directory along with two files viz: style.css and functions.php. And now, the steps to be followed for creating a child theme:
Step 1. Create the Child Theme Directory
As the very first step, you need to create a child theme directory which will be placed in wp-content/themes. While creating the child theme directory, make sure there are no spaces in its name as the same may result into errors. The name of your child theme must be appended with ‘-child’.
Step 2. Create the Child Theme’s Stylesheet
The stylesheet for your child theme must begin with this:
Theme Name: Twenty Fourteen Child
Theme URI: http://example.com/twenty-fourteen-child/
Description: Twenty Fourteen Child Theme
Author: John Carella
Author URI: http://example.com
License: GNU General Public License v2 or later
License URI: http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html
Tags: dark, three-columns, right-sidebar, RTL language support, accessibility-ready
Text Domain: twenty-fourteen-child
Here, just ensure to replace the example text with the specific details about your theme. The Template line corresponds to parent theme’s directory name. Although style.css is the only required child theme file but it is vital to have a functions.php file for enqueuing the styles appropriately.
Step 3. Enqueue Parent and Child Theme Stylesheets
To execute this final step of creating a child theme, simply add wp_enqueue_scripts action and use wp_enqueue_style() in your child theme’s functions.php file. The first line within your child theme’s functions.php file will be the opening PHP tag i.e. <?php. After this, you can go ahead with enqueuing the parent and child theme stylesheets.
What Makes Child Theme an Excellent Asset for a WordPress Developer?
Let’s have a look at the solid reasons which support the use of child themes for modifying WordPress themes:
You Know Everything That You’ve Changed for Your WordPress Theme
Ease and Safe Updates Are Possible
Since a child theme automatically inherits the features, styles and templates of the parent theme, each time a new version of the parent theme is released, you can safely and easily update your site/blog’s theme while all the modifications are being comfortably saved into the child theme.
Easy of Extending the Parent Theme’s Existing Functionality
Since a child theme is built on a powerful theme framework, it allows you to extend the parent theme’s current functionality via selectively modifying only the functions and template files and not getting into the hassles of going through multiple template files.
Easy to Restore in Case of a Blog Crash
Going wrong with a specific source code can easily crash your blog. However, if you’ve chosen to work with a child theme, you can simply get rid of the files that are causing the trouble and get your blog up and running like before. A child theme saves you from the headache associated with going through each file individually for removing the issues.
A Completely Safe Fallback Option
While creating a comprehensive theme for your WordPress website, it is advised to consider all possible scenarios in addition to coding for the same. But, working with a child theme makes you forget the need for writing code for a specific feature. With parent theme’s functionality acting as the safest callback option, you need not worry about getting things wrong at any point of time.
Well, the decision of using a child theme for making the desired changes to your WordPress theme is perhaps going to offer you complete peace of mind in terms of source code. You can rest assured of the fact that your parent theme won’t get distorted due to any changes that you make in your child theme.
Nowadays there are various themes and frameworks present in the market which are a better platform for success. For instance, we have Cherry framework, which is a well documented framework which offers fully responsive design support, several widgets and shortcodes fostering speedy development process, as well as integration with Bootstrap functions. It is a top notch WordPress framework which is easy to install and offers a comprehensive development environment reducing the hassle in web design and development by its easy to use development tools and 24/7 support.