We’ve always recommended our readers to explore new changes and customizations to their WordPress themes and appearance. It’s a great idea to consider changing theme files or making changes to the codes in the theme files to add nifty features and changes. However, making changes directly to your theme means you’ll lose it in the case where you update or change themes. This is where we introduce a WordPress child theme.
So if you’re a new WordPress user, you might ask ‘What is a WordPress Child Theme and why should we use one?’ And you’d be in the right to ask that. So today on Beautiful Themes we’ll be talking about what a WordPress Child theme is and how advantageous it can be to use them.
What is a WordPress Child theme?
A WordPress Child theme is a separate theme that is based on a Parent theme’s features and appearance. Using the parent theme, the child theme inherits all the features of the parent theme. The biggest advantage to this is that you can use a Child theme to make changes to the Parent theme’s appearance and behaviour without modifying the code.
This not only makes the customization of your parent theme easier but also opens the door to making custom CSS changes and file changes. Once the parent theme is updated or changed, the child theme changes stay intact.
WordPress theme developers make great use of Child themes to create a Theme framework or parent base. This allows them to create a base WordPress parent theme or framework and use child themes to make various different changes to build upon the framework.
Theme developers can also streamline and quicken the process of theme building by simply using a Parent theme and using a child theme based on it. This removes the need of creating a theme from the scratch and adding in complex functions and features.
Thus the main reasons for using a WordPress Child theme would be :
- Making modifications and changes to a WordPress theme that remains constant even after updating it.
- Making code changes to a WordPress theme such as altering styles, functions, layouts and templates.
- Simplifying the process of developing WordPress themes efficient through building a Theme framework.
- Reverting changes only require you to disable the Child theme.
How to create a WordPress Child Theme
The native method of creating a WordPress child theme involves building a child theme directory and creating a stylesheet and functions.php file based on a parent theme. However, the process might be a bit too difficult for new WordPress users or users that aren’t that proficient at coding. You can read more about this process here.
But worry not, WordPress also provides a nifty solution that is much simpler: using a Child theme WordPress plugin. These plugins are dedicated to providing a simple method of creating a child theme based on any theme. There are tons of these amazing plugins available on the WordPress market but some of our best recommendations are:
1. Child Theme Configurator
Child theme configurator is a complete utility tool created to help you build child themes from already existing themes. The plugin extends its features to customize and create child themes to a huge degree. The plugin provides tools for the experienced user to directly customize a child theme’s stylesheet. This includes identifying and overriding exact CSS attributes and more.
The plugin analyzes any parent theme and automatically configures your child theme accordingly. The analyzer detects the correct settings to use for your child theme, copies existing widgets, menus and customizer settings and even display you the result of each customization. For developers, Child theme configurator is an efficient and easy way to build and customize Child themes as required and save valuable time and effort.
- Lets users directly customize Child theme stylesheets, use web fonts and customize @media queries directly.
- Auto detects Child theme settings and copies existing widgets, menus and customizations to child theme.
- Preview custom styles before saving and exporting the child theme.
2. Child theme wizard
As an alternative to Child theme configurator, Child theme wizard is an extremely simple but valid solution to creating a child theme. Simply choose the correct parent theme, fill in the child theme details. With a click of a button, your child theme will be created, ready to be customized and managed.
This theme’s a great option for WordPress beginners looking to use a child theme to preserve their changes and modifications. The theme is able to create a child theme from your already existing WordPress themes in a matter of seconds and takes no effort to do so at all.
- Extremely beginner friendly and easy to use interface.
- Provides option to include GPL license if necessary.
- Migrates Theme settings and configurations perfectly without any hassle.
3. Child theme creator by Orbisius
Orbisius’ Child Theme creator plugin lets you quickly create child themes using any pre-existing theme on your WordPress installation. The plugin comes with the added advantage of saving your snippets, license keys on a separate cloud library. Copy parent theme options, configurations, and even copy the rtl.css file if your parent theme includes one. The plugin’s interface is extremely easy to use and you can create an unlimited number of child themes using the same parent theme.
Child theme creator comes with an added editor that lets you customize 2 themes at the same time and thus make detailed changes to both parent and child themes and even copy snippets from one theme to another. The plugin is designed to help you create child themes as quickly and easily as possible and provides you with the option of choosing what to copy and save as well.
- Simple and easy to use plugin interface.
- Saves license keys, snippets and more on a separate cloud while creating child themes.
- Comes with an easy to use custom theme editor and lets you customize your child themes to a large degree.
Using the plugin to create a child theme
The process of creating a child theme using a plugin is quite simple. For this demonstration, we’ll be using Child theme wizard. Before we start, you’ll be required to install the Child Theme wizard plugin. If you’re not aware of the process required to do so, consider reading this article here.
First of all, to open Child theme wizard’s plugin interface, simply open your WordPress Admin Dashboard and hover over Tools. Then, click on Child Theme Wizard and it will simply lead you to the main UI of the plugin.
Now, you can use the Child theme Wizard to use an already existing theme on your WordPress to create a child theme.
First, choose the parent theme using the Dropdown option provided.
Then you’ll be required to set a Title, Description and a Child Theme URL for your new WordPress Child theme. After this, enter your Author name, URL, version number and choose whether you want to include the GPL license in your Child theme or not.
Once you fill up the entire form, simply click on the create child theme option and this will create a new Child theme for you. It is that simple.
Now you can simply hover over Appearance and click on Themes to choose your newly made Child theme and customize it if you want.
Thus using a dedicated WordPress plugin you can easily create a child plugin to keep your theme changes permanent and reduce duplicated code. Moreover, it’s a great idea to be using Child themes, especially if you’re getting started on the process of theme development and we’d highly suggest you look up this article as well if you want to learn more about the entire process.
If you want to learn more about theme customizations on WordPress, feel free to check out some of our other articles here:
- WordPress Free Themes vs Premium Themes
- How to change a WordPress Theme
- How to add Rich Snippets to WordPress