Working as a website designer/developer I maintain (and fix) a lot of websites. I see a lot of people maintaining their websites by themselves, and I am all for that – IF you know what you are doing 😉
What do you think is the No 1 reason why people hire me? In most cases, because they have updated their theme and everything crashed – styles are no longer working, funny code showing all over the place, wrong alignment everywhere… And do you know what is the first thing I ask them?
Do you have a WordPress Child Theme?
So, today, I would like to talk to you about the Pros and Cons of having a Child Theme and why do I (personally) think every website should run on a WordPress Child Theme.
What is a Child Theme
A Child Theme is a WordPress theme that inherits its functionality from the Parent Theme. What the heck does that mean? It basically means that a Child Theme will have all the functions (plugins, style, colors, fonts, settings) or the Parent Theme but you will have the ability to customize all the settings (and add new functions) without the fear of losing everything when a new update for that theme comes.
And that is really fantastic because if you mess up anything in your Child Theme, you can always just switch back to your Parent Theme and move on with your life instantly (and fix the Child Theme in the meantime).
In the past, there was absolutely no easy way of updating themes without losing all the pretty styling and changes you have made. And you can just invision the chaos when all of the sudden you had to update your theme ASAP because they found a major exploit in the code. You are left with two choices: to update and lose all your custom code and settings (and fear of breaking the site) or don’t update and risk your site getting hacked. Fantastic choices!
In theory, any WordPress theme can have a Child Themes but not all WordPress themes are great. There are a lot of WP themes out there, paid and free, and some of them are very poorly written or have very limited functionalities and features. But that is a separate topic.
Why do people even use WordPress Child Themes?
Designers and developers (like me) use Child Themes to speed up the development process. When using a good Parent Theme, you can drastically reduce the time it takes for you to create a WordPress site. Or they often create Child Themes to tweak an existing theme without losing the ability to update the parent theme if needed.
“But what has all of this have to do with me?”, you ask. “I am a blogger!”, you say 🙂 Well, let me ask you just two simple questions:
- Did you hire someone to make your website? (Standard blogger answer: “Nope”)
- Who maintains your site? (Standard blogger answer: “Me”)
So, do you want to learn how can you be better at working with your website? Of course you do 🙂
When to use a Child Theme?
Opinions are very divided here. Some say you only need a Child Theme if you are going to make some heavy customizations to your site. Some even say you never need a Child Theme. My opinion – you should always have a Child Theme. Play it safe, it can’t hurt.
Advantages of Using a WordPress Child Theme
1. Safe Updates
A Child Theme automatically inherits the parent theme’s features, styles, and templates. This allows you to make changes to your site without ever modifying the Parent Theme. When a new version of the Parent Theme comes, you can safely update it and all your customizations will be saved in the Child Theme.
2. Easy to Extend
A WordPress Child Theme built on a great Parent Theme gives a great deal of flexibility without writing a lot of code. You can modify only the template files and functions that you need without going through other template files. And you can add new functionality when you need them.
3. Fallback Safe
When you are creating on a Parent Theme you need to think about all the possible scenarios and problems that may occur. However, when you are working on a WordPress Child Theme and you mess up something, then you can always switch back to the Parent theme as the fallback option.
4. Easy for Affiliate and other scripts
How many times did Google Analytics, Search Console, Adsense, etc ask you to “put a code in the header“? Too many times 🙂 And you always had to install yet another plugin just so can add that code in the header. But if you have a Child Theme active, you don’t need another plugin that is slowing down your site (and ruining your delicate SEO). You just make a new file in your Child Theme called
header.php and voila, you have a place to add all your code.
Disadvantages of Using a WordPress Child Theme
One of the biggest disadvantages of using a Child Theme is the time you need to invest to learn about the parent theme, how to create a child theme and a million other “how-to” questions. But this is where Lady Bloggers Engage will come pretty handy 🙂 We will be creating a lot of tutorials where you will learn how to add your affiliate links the right way, how to improve your SEO by making your website fast and plugin light 🙂
Now tell me, what do you think – do you need a Child Theme or you still aren’t convinced? 😉 And if you comment on this post and tell me what WordPress Theme you are using, I just might have the Child Theme for you and I might just share it with you 😉
Make sure you check out my training course on How to make a Child Theme which will show you step by step how to create your Child Theme.
I design websites and social media graphics + teach and help website owners on how to use the full potential of their website.