If you’re going to make any major edits to your WordPress website’s theme, you need a child theme. I mean “need” in the strict, literal meaning. If you make changes to your theme, the changes will be removed the moment the theme is updated. All your hard work – poof – gone with a few clicks.

But you can prevent that with a few clicks.

What is a child theme?

A WordPress theme is a collection of files that WordPress uses to display your website. Again, the problem is that a theme update overwrites the existing files.

A child theme is an amazing WordPress feature. It too is a collection of files. It serves the same role as a theme and works almost the same. The difference is that it only contains changes. WordPress looks for information in the child theme. If it isn’t there, then it looks in the parent theme.

Child theme = changes and changes only.

What can you do with a child theme?

It has the same potential as any theme. Often the addition seemingly simply customizations requires editing a template or the very powerful Functions file.

What can you do with a child theme and a little know-how? Here are only a few examples:

  • Create / modify shortcodes
  • Changes number posts displayed per page
  • Change the pretty, curly quotes to less-attractive but more Google friendly straight quotes.
  • Create custom post types or custom taxonomies
  • Create custom search, search results, and 404 pages

CSS styling changes don’t always require a child theme. There are many ways to add custom CSS.

How to make a child theme in a few clicks

    1. Log into your site and go to the “Add Plugins” page.
    2. Search for “Child Theme Configurator”. Install and activate it.
    3. Now go to Tools > Child Themes
    4. Create a child theme:
      1. Click “CREATE a new Child Theme”
      2. Select the theme you want
      3. Click “Analyze”
      4. You can name the directory if you’d like
      5. You can name the theme if you’d like – click the button at #7
      6. Go to #9 and click “Create New Child Theme”
    5. Go to Appearance to preview and activate your brand new child theme

Ta-daa!

Now you have a safe place to make changes to your theme… without actually touching the theme.