If you have a WordPress website, you may have noticed in the back end under Appearance, something called Themes. The theme of the site controls the styling and functionality of the site – pretty much everything. According to the WordPress Codex (the WP Bible)…
“A WordPress Theme is a collection of files that work together to produce a graphical interface with an underlying unifying design for a weblog. These files are called template files. A Theme modifies the way the site is displayed, without modifying the underlying software.”
So then … What’s a Child Theme?
At NetClimber we often develop our own themes. Sometimes we take the basic building blocks of a starter theme and create something entirely new. This is especially useful when the client requires unique features and customization options and we want to have a lot of control over these. We call these NetClimber Themes. Sometimes NetClimber develops from a prebuilt theme – using this as a foundation and then making changes to the interface and functionality as we desire. This is called a child theme. Again, to quote the WordPress Codex…
“A child theme is a theme that inherits the functionality and styling of another theme, called the parent theme. Child themes are the recommended way of modifying an existing theme.”
Why this is important is because when a theme developer updates a parent theme, the theme on the website should be updated*. If a parent theme has been modified directly and it gets updated, then the modifications may be over-ridden by the new updates to the theme. If a child theme has been implemented, the modifications are resident within the child theme and they will be preserved. Elegant Themes puts it well…
“Child themes allow you to make changes without affecting the original theme’s code, which makes it easy to update your parent theme without erasing your changes. By creating a child theme, you create a separate set of files that you can use to customize the theme without affecting the original theme at all. Not only does this make updating easier, it also makes sure that you will never ruin your original theme as you are never actually modifying the files. You can always turn off your child theme and fall back on the original.”
The Fun Part – Theme Branding
You may notice the theme branding under Appearance / Themes. NetClimber is beginning to brand our themes and child themes better so that website admin will always know who to call should there be any updates or modifications needed. Which brings me to my final point – Call us!
*We recommend not updating your website theme in the admin area of your WordPress site unless you have made a full backup and are completely comfortable restoring that back up in the case that the updated theme has conflicts with any of the plug-ins installed or the WordPress core code. Please call us 604.628.2403 if you are unsure or need assistance with any theme updates.