Why You Should Always Use a Child Theme in WordPress

by | Nov 20, 2018 | Website, Wordpress

Cathy Gray
Strategizing Print & Digital Marketing w/ Business Operations
(and always with coffee in hand)
About | Contact

What is a theme in WordPress?

A theme is simply a set of files that work together to present the content together. A theme sets the overall styling of your website.

Most WordPress websites have a theme, and it is very rare that one will not have one. I can’t think of why a website wouldn’t have a theme.

Let’s Compare WordPress to PowerPoint

WordPress and Microsoft PowerPoint are both the frameworks or software for the website or document. Each have their own theme for fonts, styling, colors and other design elements.

WordPress Themes

Here is a screenshot from dashboard of WordPress where themes are located. Here you can upload a theme that you have purchased or download a theme from the WordPress directory.

PowerPoint Themes

This is a screenshot from PowerPoint 2007 of the available default themes. Under the thumbnails, you can also browse and install other themes from Microsoft. This is a very similar process to WordPress themes.

What is a parent theme?

A parent theme in WordPress is any theme that is available on a marketplate, from a vendor or downloaded from WordPress.org.

When you are starting with a fresh WordPress install, it is comes with a few themes preinstalled. They are named by the year they are released, Twenty Seventeen theme was released in 2017 for example.

2017 WordPress default theme

What is a child theme in WordPress?

A child theme is a theme that is a similar version of the parent. The files pull information from the parent theme, but adds adds security if the parent theme is ever updated.

Why is a Child Theme Important?

If you make changes to a theme without using a child theme and the main or parent theme is updated, you can loose the styling and work that you have done to your site.

That is why it is best practice to use a child theme. I’ve been in the situation where the main theme had to be updated and and I didn’t use a child theme.

I made rookie mistake when I first started. I didn’t have a child theme and lost all of my customizations.

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