What exactly is a WordPress child theme and why do you need one?
Is there a definition for a WordPress child theme?
If you’ve been around WordPress for a while, you’ve undoubtedly heard the term “Child Theme.” It’s become one of those scary, complicated things that many users attempt to avoid without truly understanding.
However, it is not as frightening as it appears at first look. In truth, it’s rather simple to grasp and use.
But what exactly is a child theme?
What exactly does it do? Do I require a Child Theme? What am I going to use it for?
According to the WordPress Codex, a child theme is one that “inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, the so-called parent theme.” It is advised to use child themes to alter current themes while keeping their design and code intact.
A child theme is an area within your website where you can apply changes to your current theme. In other words, a child theme is a sub-theme that inherits all of its parent theme’s functionality, features, and appearance.
Child themes are a secure way to edit a WordPress theme without modifying the parent theme’s files. Changes made in the child theme are maintained and applied to the updated version when the parent theme is updated.
This is why child themes are the safest and most effective approach to modify an existing theme. Rather of altering theme files directly, use the templates in the child theme to override them.
Designers and developers may use these child themes to build new designs that inherit the functionality of the parent theme.
Child themes allow you to alter the parent theme without changing the core files. As a consequence, it safeguards these changes when the parent theme is updated. However, for the reasons stated above, child themes are becoming increasingly popular in retailers.
And maybe you wonder, why can I not make those changes in the theme itself?
That is because when you apply the changes to the current theme, for instance, you change something within the CSS or the PHP file.
Those changes will be overwritten when you update your theme. So all those changes you create will be gone after you update your theme.
And obviously, you don’t want that, right?
You want to maintain those changes even when you update the theme. And that’s why you need a child theme.
When you apply those changes within the child theme, those changes will be applied even when you update your theme and you cannot only change things.
You can also add functions. You can add CSS. You can add things that will enhance your website using a child theme, you will maintain those changes when you update your theme.
So that’s how it works.
When do you need a child theme?
Not in all cases would you need a child theme. I never used one in my entire career because I hardly ever change the PHP code in my theme.
In other words, When you want to add functions, PHP code, a really complicated CSS code. Then you need a child theme.
All the changes you can make within the customizer will remain after you update a theme. And these days, a lot of themes have the possibility to add custom CSS to change the background, to change the font. A lot of stuff. So in most cases you don’t need a child theme.