When I first started modifying WordPress themes, I did that the wrong way, which involved editing existent themes with my styles, and how painful that was when one client did an auto-update for the theme a while later washing out all my work!
Then I took a step further by building my own themes based upon blank themes, those themes give you a fully functional WordPress template with no styling at all, and this went quite well for some time, although it was kind of doing a lot of work each time with the basic structure and formatting for all elements over and over again. I used Blank theme by Chris Coyier, then Starkers theme by Elliot Jay Stocks.
Recently I heard a lot about the concept of Child themes, and soon it became my favorite way of creating WordPress-based sites most of the time, and here is why…
What is a Child theme?
It’s simply a theme based upon an existing theme , like twentyten or Hybrid, ( that’s where the name child came from) where you get to include only the elements that you want to override in the original theme and keep the rest as it is.
This was really charming and it made my development time much less.
Top Reasons why I like working with Child themes:
- First of all, speed.
- You don’t have to keep re-doing the same basic css styling over and over again, they’re already there in the parent theme.
- Safely of upgrading your parent theme anytime without losing your own custom work.
- Getting the latest functionality that’s always available in the parent theme, which is updated often.
- It’s very comfortable for designers who don’t want to worry about learning php code.
Some very good resources for learning about child themes:
- How To Modify WordPress Themes The Smart Way by Ian Stewart, the developer behind thematic, another great Theme framework which uses the child theme concept.
- Child themes in the WordPress Codex, all the basics that you need to know.
- Hybrid Child themes, by Justin Tadlock.
- How to make a child theme for WordPress: A pictorial introduction for beginners
- Understand WordPress Child Theme, from WP Engineer.com
Some of the Work I did using Child themes:
As you can see from the samples above that you can achieve almost any design you want using child themes, and to a great extend it doesn’t limit you from achieving what you want to do.
Hope you find this useful, and please, share with us your thoughts and experiences with Child themes and if you’ve used them before, what’s the mos thing you like about them.