Deeg Consulting

Why a child theme for your WordPress websites?

Why a child theme for your WordPress websites.

What is a “child theme”? Why do you need it?

I have worked with many clients over the last six years, and for me, this is the bridge I do not cross when working with them. I do not work on websites if there is no child theme. Many small web design companies looking to make money quickly, with low-cost WordPress websites, are low-cost for a reason. They use low-quality templates and build websites without child themes. Today, many people are designing websites in WordPress on their own, and they are having a great time doing it. I applaud them for working within a budget and being creative at the same time. The problem?  Many of them have never heard of a child theme before. Why would the website companies tell them about it? It means that without a child theme, they could be back next year building a new website from scratch and shelling out more money. The reason they were designing their websites in the first place was to save money.  

Do you remember the parent /child relationship from coding school? That applies to content management system development as well.

According to WP Beginner

“A child theme in WordPress is a sub-theme that inherits all the functionality, features, and style of its parent themeChild themes are a safe way to modify a WordPress theme without actually making any changes to the parent theme’s files.”

parent theme doesn’t need a child theme to work, while the opposite isn’t true. On the other hand, a child theme works as an additional layer on top of the parent theme. It allows your developer to tweak, add, remove an existing WordPress theme without worrying about losing your customizations.”

Or from Codeable

“A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying an existing theme.”

A child theme is a layer on top of your existing WordPress theme that allows you to make modifications. You can change part of its functionality, you can change its style, how it looks, all being sure you’re not ruining your parent theme.

In order words, it is an extension of your current theme, “the parent.”

“Using child themes is the best practice when it comes to adding extra features or style to a WordPress theme. You should never edit directly: WordPress core files.

Plugin files. Theme files, except for starter themes which are a special kind of themes meant for theme developers” Codeable

Benefits

Let’s say you bought a theme a year ago that you’re still using on your WordPress site. It still looks acceptable to you, but it should need a design refresher because you’d like it to focus on conversions, and currently, it’s simply a leaky pipe.

If you make edits directly in your header.php, function.php files, the next you’ll update your theme with its latest version – and there are lots of important reasons to keep it up-to-date -, you’ll lose all your customizations. All the changes you have done will get overwritten by the newer versions of those duplicate files, and you will lose what you have done. Having a child theme means that you do not lose your customizations.” Codeable

Limits

Although they give you the freedom to make changes, you would not have been able to without one; if you want a complete overhaul with more customizations, that means a fully customized website with an experienced web developer.

Why are they important?

Because it makes sense from a budget standpoint that you can have extra functionality, make edits to your theme, not lose customizations you invested in and still stay within a decent budget. Fully customized websites require skilled developers and higher prices based on their skills.

Companies have made the concept of developing websites something easy and within reach for everyone, and we are all lucky to be able to take advantage of that.  Not knowing what it takes to build a good website with a child theme (something they never mention) is an awful lesson that too many of us have learned over the years.

My best advice, you may not have the budget to pay someone to design a website, but pay for a consultation with an expert, someone you can trust. Don’t leave anything to chance; ask lots of questions and start your website journey the right way.

If you have the budget and hire an expert, not the hosting company (they will not dispense any parent/child advice), make sure you ask them, no, tell them that you expect your website to have a child theme. You are investing in your future, and they need to understand that you intend to be an intelligent investor.

If you have questions or comments about this topic, contact me at debragw@deegconsulting.com.

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