One of the biggest mistakes WordPress business sites make is customising their theme by editing the core theme files.
The problem is the moment the parent theme updates, all the changes are lost. You then have to spend valuable time changing everything back.
The solution to this problem is simple. Use a WordPress child theme and customise it instead.
Understanding A WordPress Child Theme
A child theme is based on parent theme and inherits the same functionality of its parent. Think of it as a copy of the parent. It serves as a safe way to edit a theme without ever touching the core files of the parent theme. You can change any aspect of the child theme without it affecting the parent. You can also update the parent theme without affecting any changes made to the child theme. The child theme inherits the latest security features, keeping your site more secure.
Takeaway: If you don’t want to lose changes made to your theme, opt for a child theme instead. You get to make changes without losing the ability to update your theme when a new version is released.
Using With Other Themes
One thing to keep in mind with child themes is you can’t have a child theme of another child theme. You need a parent theme in order to create a child. It’s important to carefully choose a parent theme that offers a solid foundation of the features you need. If you find yourself trying to create a brand new theme out of the child, it may be best to use a different parent.
Takeaway: Choose a parent theme that meets most of your needs. The child theme should be an extension of the parent. If you can’t find the right parent, consider hiring a WordPress developer to create a custom parent theme. They can also create a child theme with extended functionality as your needs change.
Making Coding Changes
All WordPress themes offer some customisation options such as color or widget placement. When you want to go beyond basic customisation, you have to change the code behind the template. Businesses most often need to alter the style or functions of their theme. This means editing the functions.php and style.css files. If you do this with the parent theme, all of your changes are immediately erased the moment you update your theme to the latest version.
With a child theme, the parent theme retains all the original coding. All coding changes are made on the child theme and implemented on the site. There’s no need to edit your theme with each upgrade.
Takeaway: Anytime a business needs to customise beyond the basics, coding changes are necessary. To prevent losing these changes, a WordPress child theme is required. If you’re not comfortable making these changes, consider a professional WordPress developer.
Keeping Your Site Safe
Sometimes customisations don’t always go as planned. If the changes are made to the original theme, you might have to reinstall the theme in order to undo the changes. This could cause unplanned site downtime and lost business profits. A child theme offers a major benefit in this department. Should something go wrong, you can immediately switch from the child to the parent theme until the problem is resolved. Child themes give you the freedom to edit without risking your original theme.
Takeaway: Leaving your parent theme alone and editing the child theme is a good way to have a safe fall back for your site. Professional WordPress developers always use child themes for this very reason. It’s a good idea to use an experienced developer to edit your theme to prevent problematic customisations.
Maintaining A Secure Site
Many businesses are afraid to update their theme, even if it means going without the latest security updates. This puts their site and visitors at risk. They know they’ll lose their theme changes the moment the theme updates. If they’ve paid for updates, they lose both time and money. Child themes give you the ability to receive updates without sacrificing any customisations. You get the best of both worlds.
Takeaway: Child themes are the easiest way to customise while staying secure. The best WordPress developers always use child themes to add functionality to prevent businesses from losing their changes.
Don’t spend hours customising your site only to lose it all in a few minutes. Use a WordPress child theme and extend the features and functionality the right way. It’s simple and saves money and time.
Image: Harsh Agrawal