What is a Child Theme?
How can it increase my site design options and decrease my costs?
As you work with a designer or developer, they will likely present you with two options for creating your site’s appearance (or theme). They will either offer to:
- Build you a brand-new theme from scratch tailored to your needs, or
- Purchase (or acquire) a theme from a marketplace and then configure it through its settings or extend it with plugins
While I could go on at length about why the latter is often not in your best interest (#one-size-does-not-fits-all and #bloat), I’m going to resist the urge and instead focus on a third often forgotten option: Child Themes.
To start, let’s make sure we’re on the same page. A theme is a collection of templates, stylesheets and functions that create the look, feel and functionality of a WordPress powered site. Any functional theme can be a parent theme.
A child theme is a way to leverage a parent theme’s look, feel and functionality, and extend or modify it for your needs. As a child, any modifications created are kept separate from the parent theme’s files.
Benefits to Child Themes:
- Any modifications are kept separate from the parent theme’s functions
- Those customizations are portable and could be easily added to different themes or different sites
- The parent theme can continue to receive updates without overwriting changes you’ve made
- It can save you time and money on development
- And, it can keep your plugin bloat down