16 February 2018 Why should you be Using Child Theme for your WordPress Site?
Child themes are themes which inherit properties, functionalities, and styling of another theme called the parent theme. Child themes allow you to modify only a part of the total theme that you are using without modifying the complete theme. Modifying a whole theme often creates problems when you upgrade to a higher version, on WordPress. Child theme allows you to create a separate set of files using which you can modify the theme without affecting the code of the original theme. That is why child themes should be the preferred format of modifying a theme.
WordPress checks the child theme first for a particular functionality and if it does not exist, then WordPress checks its parent theme for the functionality. According to ‘ElegantThemes’, 85% of WordPress users modify themes but only 35% use child themes. The reason could be a lack of knowledge about child themes or perceived difficulty in creating one.
Reasons for using child themes
• Makes updates easier: If you update without a child theme, you can either update or lose the changes that you have made to the theme or not update it at all. Of course, not updating the themes, plugins, and the software WordPress would make it outdated, and cause it to lose efficiency. Security may also be compromised.
• Makes the process of development easier: If you decide to make an update without a child theme, you may be adding snippets of code to the code base of the original theme, which could run into hundreds if not thousands of lines. That means, tracking the changes may become cumbersome later on. It makes more sense to make changes to the child theme which contains less number of files and also less code to handle. That makes the documentation process easier.
• Makes reverting to the original condition easier: If you think that customization of the theme did not go according to your plan, you can simply disable the child theme, and everything would go back to the original state.
Steps for creating a child theme
A child theme can be created by following these simple steps:
1. A theme directory needs to be created in the WordPress install.
2. A style sheet with appropriate information about your child theme has to be created.
3. You may now use the functionalities of the parent theme.
4. Activate the child theme, and the WordPress site would look like the original.
A child theme has a lot of advantages and is easy to use, contrary to popular belief. If you are a designer who makes frequent changes to your WordPress supported blog or website, start using child themes and enjoy the advantages.