By Stephanie Brown, of FAIIINT
This was going to be a much longer article, hence why I made it separate to the original post. I intended to show you how to create a child theme from scratch. This is the way I’ve always done it and although it’s not difficult at all, there are quite a few long steps to follow and it can be a little daunting (especially for beginners). While I was typing the post up I was told by a friend that recently there had been a child theme plugin added to the WordPress library – perfect timing! I’ve tested it out myself and it is exactly what it says – a “One-Click Child Theme,” absolutely fool-proof and it only takes a few seconds as opposed to maybe 20 minutes to DIY!
I’m going to explain a little about why going through the effort of creating a child theme is so important, as I’m sure most of you are wondering why you can’t just edit the existing theme, like with free WordPress, and are not aware this is the correct way to do it:
- The first and main reason is that you don’t have to fiddle around with the existing CSS of the theme, this means that it is very unlikely you will be able to mess the theme up by deleting something by accident or overwriting something important.
- It also means, if you do happen to mess up or just don’t like your alterations, you can simply delete the child theme and your blog will go back to the original un-altered theme.
- The third reason and possibly the most important, is that by updating your theme to a newer version (as you should always do when one becomes available!), you will lose all of your customizations and the theme will go back to its original state. This doesn’t happen when you use a child theme, as it’s totally separate from the main theme. Child themes make it virtually impossible to mess up your blog, so you all have no excuse not to have a go at customizing!
As I said before, I would always suggest creating a separate tester blog to play around with until you're happy with your alterations and then just copy these to your real blog, especially if you’re blog is currently live, otherwise your readers will see the various changes you make (even the wrong ones)!
CREATING A CHILD THEME
You’ll want to first find and install a theme you like from the extensive library of options – you can then use this as a base for any customizations you do (this becomes the parent theme).
1. Click ‘plugins’ from the sidebar and choose ‘add new’ –> Search for and Install “One-Click Child Theme” –> Activate the plugin –> Click ‘appearance’ in the sidebar –> Activate the theme you want to modify –> Select ‘child theme’ from the sidebar (or underneath the active themes options)
2. Fill out the form – make sure to give your child theme a unique name so there’s no confusion; I always name it after my blog & what version of the layout it is. When you submit you will get a screen full of random code. This is normal!
3. Click ‘appearance’ again, your child theme should now be the active theme at the top. If it’s not, find it below and activate it.
4. You can now click ‘editor’ from the sidebar and should see a box with a little bit of code inside, just a few lines. Do not delete anything inside the box. Add any modifications you want to make underneath the code that’s already there.
Now you’ve created your child theme, you can customize away as you would with free wordpress! Please see last weeks post (HERE) for the beginners guide to customizing your blogs CSS. Skip the first few paragraphs, down to ‘Tips’ and start from there!