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WordPress child themes borrow their functionality from other themes commonly known as the parent themes. Before Child Themes, making theme updates on WordPress was a challenge. This became particularly disturbing if you discovered that your theme had a weakness that could be exploited by hackers to your disadvantage.

If you updated your WordPress to get better security, then it meant that you had to lose all the customized changes that you had made to the theme. Luckily the community, together with the core theme, came up with a solution that could enable you to change your WordPress theme without losing any custom changes.

The ingenious solution was to develop a child theme.

The child theme borrows functionality from the parent theme and, at the same time, allows its users to make changes to the site and update their parent theme without losing any customized changes. This allows for better and more secure WordPress themes.

Why should one use a child theme?

Child themes make development easier. They were made so that developers didn’t have to do a lot of coding but could still make the necessary changes to the parent theme. They made it so simple that creating a child theme only required you to make a style.css file in a new folder.

All you’ll need is your new style.css header that defines the template, and you’re good to go.

Advantages of a Child Theme

You can update your site safely
Child themes make the process of updating your parent theme from an older to a newer version easier since your custom modifications are saved safely in your child theme. You can also make changes to your site without the need to modify your parent theme.

Allows for flexibility
Child themes are flexible. Especially if they are built off of great parent themes. They ease the developer’s work since they don’t have to write long lines of code. With child themes, you can selectively modify the template files you need without affecting other templates.

Fallback fail safe
Mistakes happen. Every once in a while as you work on customizing your child theme you’ll inadvertently code errors that can break your website; however, the parent theme’s functionality is to work as a fail-safe fallback option in case that happens. This is a great option since you have to imagine and code for all possible scenarios when working on complete themes.

Disadvantages

The learning curve
Working on a child theme means that you have to invest and learn the parent theme. The reason is that every parent theme has its hooks and filters, and learning about parent themes will help you maximize your potential

The developers may abandon the parent theme.

We’ve seen this countless times with free and premium themes. Developers can lose interest in a theme they were working on and discard it, and this could affect your website. It is critical that you keep all your wordpress, theme, and plugin files up to date to ensure your website is safe and secure and when a developer abandons a plugin or a theme it allows a back door that hackers can take advantage of to access your website.

When building your website you want to always ensure that you use a child theme to guarantee that any updates to your parent theme don’t erase your customized options for your own website. Any parent theme can have a child theme; however, not all parent themes are good to work with. Running into issues with your wordpress parent or child theme? Give us a call for a free assessment.