When customizing a WordPress theme we ALWAYS use a child theme if we are going to be modifying the hard code of the site (this does not apply if your theme has built in customization modules).
Why do we use the child theme? Because the next time you update your theme, if you have not built your customizations into a WordPress child theme, you will lose EVERY SINGLE change you or your web developer made in your code.
Trust us, this will NOT make for a fun day.
So, what is a child theme and how do you use one.
A child theme is a version of your theme that gets its good looks from the parent theme (the WordPress theme you are actually wanting to use) but doesn’t have any of the structure of the parent theme built into itself.
Think of it like this: The child theme is like a transparency sheet you lay over the original parent theme – it is clear and has no visible affect on the parent theme it is overlaying. But, if you edit the transparency to have a new look – say, you move around some <div> containers (that’s just web speak for a place holder), by moving around the container in the child theme you don’t affect the actual structure of what lies below – the parent theme. It doesn’t change the parent, but it does change what the end user sees on your website because the transparency is covering the parent.
This means you can go ahead and update you main WordPress theme, drink some coffee, and enjoy life without the headache of having your entire WordPress site fall apart. It works because all of your changes were outside and on top of the updated parent theme.
How do you activate the child theme?
You simply activate the child theme in the same way you activate any theme. Go to appearance > themes and then choose the child theme and activate it. That’s it.
Updated code files from the parent them must be placed in the child’s theme folder and they will overlay the original parent themes files when presented to your user.
So, how do you create a WordPress Child theme?