One of the greatest benefits of WordPress is the ability to customize our theme. Unfortunately your customizations can be lost when the theme updates. To solve this, WordPress allows you to use a child theme. Of course this raises the question, what is a child theme?
A child theme is a theme that gets is functionality from another theme called the parent theme. The child theme has its own files, such as CSS, that won’t be over-written when the parent theme is updated.
This means you can make changes to the child theme without fear of losing your changes. Customize your colors, fonts, and even add new features, and when your parent theme updates your customizations are still intact. Without a child theme those changes would be lost when your theme updates.
At first you might think this problem can be solved by simply not updating the theme. Not updating your theme can have bad repercussions. Themes are updated for many reasons:
Each one of these is reason enough to keep your theme updated. With all of the issues that can happen because of an outdated theme, not updating your theme is not an option.
A child theme inherits its features from the parent theme by using the parent theme’s functions and code. A good parent theme would provide action hooks and filters. These themes work as frameworks. Any theme can be a parent theme, but not all themes are frameworks. You can see the templates available in the Divi framework in the image above.
A good framework would keep you from needing to replace the parent files. These are the files that your child theme should inherit. You shouldn’t need to add footers and headers, but you can add new functions. This also means you don’t have to code everything like you would if you were creating a parent theme. If you need to add to these files then you need a child theme.
A simple child theme might only need functions.php and style.css template files. Files are added as customizations are needed. The more complex child themes can have as many or more files as the parent theme.
Child themes for this type of framework can be developed, sold, reused, etc. This is one of the many reasons we like Divi – it’s a great example of a framework parent theme that lends itself well to child theme development.
One way to use a child theme is to upload a blank theme that you’ll make your changes to. This is a blank theme you can get right here at BeSuperfly.
One of the greatest benefits of child themes comes from using pre-made child themes. Pre-made child themes can instantly give your website a new design with no design effort on your part and without having to hire a designer.
This is one of the advantages to Divi. You won’t need to research lots of themes to know the features in order to choose the right parent theme. You won’t need to be familiar with the theme’s filters and hooks if you want to add new features.
For example, here’s the default design of Divi without a child theme. It works like a standard blog. If I didn’t want to create a layout myself I could use one that’s already designed. Let’s look at a few examples.
A pre-made child theme instantly gives your website a brand new look. The image above is Anthem, a child theme for Divi. The design is already made for you; just add your own content. There are lots of pre-made child themes available for Divi.
The child theme above is called Josefin, which includes five custom pages and Page Builder Everywhere integration.
This one is Construction Project Pack. It’s a ready-made site which includes a child theme with 4 page layouts and CSS elements, but goes even further by supplying a proposal template with a contract and agreement in .docx, .pages, and .pdf formats.
You can see more professionally designed child themes for Divi right here at the BeSuperfly Shop.
Hopefully this article has answered the question what is a child theme and shown the benefits of using one on your website. Child themes are essential if you want to customize your website beyond the theme’s dashboard settings and the Theme Customizer settings as they retain your customizations when the parent theme updates. Of course an alternative to designing your own is to use a pre-made child theme.
We want to hear from you! Do you use a child theme? Let us know in the comments.
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