Child Themes – You gotta love em!

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Child Themes – You gotta love em!

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Allan-childChild Themes – You gotta love em!

WordPress Child Themes, the nemesis or nightmare of every WordPress beginner and some intermediate and advance users a s well. I know I was intimidated by them when I began working with WordPress. It seemed like a bunch of hard coding or something and I put off exploring and learning about them.

What is a Child Theme? How do I create one? What can I do with it? Do I have to create one? I answer all of these questions in my latest Responsive WordPress Video Tutorial: ” Responsive WordPress Child Themes COMPLETE! Updated Version part 1 and 2 on YouTube now.

This tutorial series on Child Themes covers setting up a child theme and using it within your WordPress Dashboard. See what a child theme does and how it effects your website as well as the benefits and advantages to using one. The Responsive Theme from ThemeID which is child-theme-friendly is used for this demonstration.

The purpose of a child theme is simple, for editing purposes, it allows you to modify the theme files without actually changing the “parent” files of the theme. The Child Theme talks to the browser and tells it to look at it before the parent theme files thus overriding any files in the parent theme folder (directory). This is a good practice because any modifications made to a parent theme will be lost during any update being applied to the theme. So for example if I modify the style CSS  file of the parent theme and then update to the latest version, my modifications will be lost.

If I am using a child theme, my modifications are on the copy not the parent so when I update, only the parent is updated (99% of the time that is) leaving my mod’s in place safe inside the child themes directory. In rare cases a theme may be updated and changed so much in an update that it will require you to make some or all modifications over again. That is why I stress in my tutorials to always make a copy of your CSS or PHP files in a text editor and save them (both the before edit  and after edit copy!) in case of something goes wrong, and we all know about “Murphy’s law”.

If you are unsure about child themes, intimidated by them or need to get one put together quickly and properly, then check out my latest tutorial part 1 and 2.

I also recommend installing “Instant WordPress” on to your computer (PC). This will give you a personal copy of WordPress on your computer (not server) that you can experiment with and learn before going live with plugins or modifications. You can practice on your local installation and only edit the things you are sure of on your live WordPress site located on your server. Developers including myself use this method to try things out first before we start editing the live installation. This prevents you from making mistakes with your live website. Theres nothing worse than someone going to your web address and your site is down or broken.

Once your child theme is up and running you can have way at editing pretty much all the files inside the themes parent folder by making copies of or creating all new files. this is where the power of WordPress is unleashed for those who don’t know. i can’t stress enough to my subscribers that if you are going to be using WordPress, you will have to deal with handling code, not necessarily coding, but handling code. There will be a lot of copying and pasting thats for sure.

Let me know what you think about the tutorial and if it helps. I try to be complete because a lot of the videos I researched when learn were too fast and vague in how the child theme actually works. And yes, thats lil ol me as a child in the picture… 😆

Watch “Child Themes UPDATED” here:

Sign Up to get the Child Theme code and instructions on how to use it here:

Allan Whitney


About Author

Allan Whitney

California based Media Professional with over 15 years experience. Static and Dynamic Web Designer, WordPress installations and design, WordPress Theme Modifications, Plugin installation and configuration, Still and Motion Graphics Designer, SWF Designer, Video Camera Operator and Photographer. Current contribution: Reducing the digital divide by educating a Global web community on the most powerful and versatile CMS in the World, WordPress! Providing free learning materials and video instruction to an international web audience eager to learn.

January 2018
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