Creating Child Themes on WordPress

March 17th 2015

Child themes are integral to creating a custom site using WordPress. By creating a child theme it is possible to take an already existing WordPress theme and personalize it even further. What makes child themes so useful is that you can still take advantage of all of the structures and tools already used with a WordPress parent theme. Instead of creating an entire new WordPress theme from scratch, which would be a very time consuming, you can instead leverage all of the complex portions of the theme while adding small customizations wherever they are needed. One of the biggest benefits with child themes is that even with updates to the parent theme the child theme can still function how you want it to.

When you change a WordPress child theme you are manipulating the way that the content is displayed. You are not changing any of the post or page content itself (unless you are using WordPress filters). Manipulating child themes using WordPress is very different from changing things on a static site. When working on a static site you can change the formatting around an individual blog post or page which requires you to change all instances of blogs or pages. When you change the formatting around a blog post on WordPress you make changes to the template(s). This means that all instances of the blogs or posts on your site will reflect the change to the template. This saves a great deal of time and is part of what makes WordPress such a great platform. You often can make changes in one spot and the change will affect many different pages AND any pages that you may create in the future.

Not only can you manipulate the styling of you site in this way, but you can customize functions and widgets in this manner as well. This makes your site that much more customizable. You can change widgets, or even create new widgetized areas that can function in the way you would like them to. You are also able to extend parent functions/classes or override parent functions which gives you that much more granularity to your site. Along with this benefit WordPress has a giant user-base being one of the largest open source projects on the web. Because of this there are a huge amount of plugins and utilities created that you can add to your site to increase functionality for your users.

All of these reasons contribute to why WordPress child themes can be so powerful. You can manipulate almost every aspect of your site while still being able to utilize all of the complexities and functionality of core WordPress and parent themes.