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WordPress Child Themes & Why to Use Them Featured Image

WordPress Child Themes & Why to Use Them

by: Hostwinds Team  /  June 24, 2019


Some say the best parents teach their children everything they know while simultaneously encouraging them to be their unique selves. Strangely enough, this also applies to WordPress parent themes and child themes. WordPress, the world's most popular website-building application, is a massive gift for anyone looking to create and design a quality website without having to learn how to code. WordPress is decidedly a beneficial tool in our current sphere. Here is why: To achieve high levels of success as a business or entrepreneur these days, it is almost always necessary to have a professional, aesthetically pleasing website.

Throughout this blog piece, we will discuss WordPress and, in particular, WordPress child themes. First, let's start by expanding on our understanding of WordPress itself. We defined the application, but why don't we elaborate on what WordPress is and what it does?

What is WordPress?

WordPress was first introduced in 2003 and had…hmm, what is the technical term for this…BLOWN-UP exponentially ever since. What a relief it is not to have to be a software developer to build a stunning and reliable website from scratch. Even better, WordPress can be used to create virtually any kind of website you can imagine.

WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), which is an application that enables people to build and manage the components of a website without coding. All you need to do to get your WordPress site up and running is a 1. domain name and 2. hosting provider.

P.S. Let's put a pin in the "hosting provider" idea because Hostwinds happens to offer the best WordPress hosting out there. That is no exaggeration, except for the fact that I may be exceedingly biased.

Let's stroll back over to the WordPress summary, and we will begin by defining a WordPress theme.

What is a WordPress Theme?

A WordPress theme is a unique template that has distinct traits. More specifically, WordPress themes are composed of files that dictate how one's website displays content to viewers. Such files include an index.php file, a style.css file, PHP files, files concerning graphics, and text files. All those files collectively amount to the design of a WordPress website. Themes control the organization and makeup of a website. They decide how the site appears aesthetically as well as how its visitors interact with it. That said, themes are mainly used for the front-end design, meaning font, widgets, colors, etc. A theme is required for every WordPress-made website.

"Multipurpose" themes are broader themes that work for any website. You can easily make them your own or adjust them as you please. This type of theme offers more preferences and features. "Niche themes," on the other hand, are themes that are made for certain types of websites. For example, one niche theme might be for eCommerce sites specifically. In that case, that theme would comply with the requirements of eCommerce websites.

WordPress offers multiple free themes as well as themes you can purchase. If you are looking for a theme, you can go to the WordPress Themes Directory (WordPress.org). If you are debating between themes, it would be wise to look at the specific components each theme offers and align with your unique needs.

Now, if you want to make changes to your WordPress theme and keep those changes after updating, we highly recommend using a child theme. If you don't use a child theme to make custom changes, anything you design yourself will be erased when the update occurs. It's time to reveal some important things to know about the utility of WordPress child themes.

What is a Child Theme? / What Does a Child Theme do?

Let's start here: every child theme has a parent theme. The parent theme would be like your regular WordPress theme. Although the child acquires all of its parent theme's functions and code, the former also has additional characteristics that make it different from the latter. When you use a child theme, you add additional code, none of which is possessed by the parent theme.

The parent theme does not contain a single one of the child theme's files or features.

In fact (PART 2), the parent theme does not change at all when you add a child theme. None of the parent theme's files will be altered in any way when you create a child theme. To say it once more in a different way, modifying a child theme does not modify a parent theme at all.

Some child themes have more template files than their parents. The most straightforward child themes include one style.css file. Moreover, all the child theme's files override the parent theme's files.

P.S. The child theme files live in a folder that lives in /wp-content/themes.

Child themes give you a much easier way to make edits on your site fast, as there are typically fewer files to sort through. If you notice you want to make many changes to your styling, it is a good idea to make a child theme.

The most important reason to use a child theme is this: The child theme's characteristics are not erased when installing an upgrade for the parent theme.

Child themes are imperative because, before their existence, you weren't able to update your theme if you wanted to keep the adjustments you made. Back in the WordPress day, if you wanted to, for example, add a pretty pop-up menu to your WordPress theme, you could not update it if you wanted that menu to stay on your site.

A question you may be asking yourself is, "Couldn't I just make adjustments to my theme and never upgrade it, so I don't have to make a child theme?" Technically yes, but it is not a good idea because sometimes updates are crucial for security purposes. Furthermore, updates often make your site function better.

If you want to add a lot to your theme's functions.php file or style.css file, a child theme is a good idea. If you are making a couple, say one or two, modifications to your CSS, we suggest using one of the CSS plugins offered by WordPress.

Note: It is vital to choose the suitable parent theme for your child theme. Technically any theme can be a parent. However, those that aren't niche themes are often ideal.

Just something to consider as you get started.

Concluding with Just Two Tiny Shameless Plugs

As we approach the end of this blog post, it makes perfect sense to plug in Hostwinds WordPress Hosting shamelessly. We have multiple WordPress Hosting packages available. Those who create websites using WordPress can enjoy a hosting experience tailor-made for the site-building app. In other words, Hostwinds WordPress Hosting is specifically designed to meet the requirements of WordPress, as our servers are optimized for WordPress and come with WordPress installed onto them. When you get started with our WordPress Hosting, you can immediately boot up WordPress. If you would like more information about this, click the link below.

https://www.hostwinds.com/hosting/wordpress

If you would like even more information about this, stay tuned for PART 2 of this WordPress Child Theme blog series! We will undoubtedly continue the shameless plugging of our WordPress Hosting plans, and we will teach you how to use a child theme in WordPress.

One shameless plug down, one to go! The following link will direct you straight to an intriguing Hostwinds blog post about the recent Gutenberg update that shook the WordPress world up.

WordPress Updates & Things of That Nature

That concludes Part 1 of our WordPress Child Theme blog post. We are excited to discuss more WordPress particulars in Part 2! Take care, folks.

Written by Hostwinds Team  /  June 24, 2019