Creating Child Themes in WordPress

I remember the day that I learned about child themes. It was Aaron Jorbin at Wordcamp covering child themes. I would say it is one of those thing that revolutionize the way I do things in WordPress. I used to dread the updates because I would customize WordPress designs at the core files and in the end it would delete all my changes. You get the idea.

So now that I look back I think I would share how to create your own child theme.

Here is what you should have:
1. A FTP client.
2. Some sort of text editor like notepad, dreamweaver, textmate, etc..

Pretty Simple right.

Be fearless. Now this can be down right freaky for those who have never done it. Don’t be. You are not gonig to break anything but your website. Just kidding. If you are one of those killer php, css, wordpress slinging ninjas then who knows why you are reading this.

Lets tackle it.

Start by opening your text editor and saving your file as style.css. Next you will need in the header of your section to say this”

@import url(‘../ThemeName/style.css’);

This “ThemeName” is whatever theme you are creating your custom child theme from. You are telling WordPress to use this theme in you file. You have to have it downloaded in order for this to work. An example might for a custom Twenty Ten theme would be @import url(‘../twentyten/style.css’);. Easy so far.

Next you might want to include some details about the theme. It will show up in your dashboard. Here is what it looks like. You can just copy and paste this part and fill in your own info. Save after you are done editing this.

/*
Theme Name: My Theme Name
Theme URI: http://www. Website .com So this is where your theme image will reside. Put and address of your image.
Description: Describe what features, colors, any other important information.
Author: You and maybe the orginal author if you feel like sharing the love.
Template:twentyten (What templete you are using)
Version 1.0 (Maybe a version. Perhaps you will come back to it)

*/

Okay now it is time to upload your theme. Open your favorite FTP client. Then navigate to the themes folder. You can get there by going to wp-content > themes >.
Now you want to create a new folder or directory. You do this by right clicking on your mouse and choosing the create new directory. Title the directory the name of your theme. Now upload the css file to the new directory. Viola!

Were almost there. You can now activate your new theme by going into your Appearance section of WordPress. Click on the Activate Theme and now your theme is live. Because we did no changes to the theme it will not look any different.

There are benefits to procreating child themes. Doing it this way allows you to select certain CSS rules that you want to change without creating a whole new CSS file. You just simply select the rule you want to change and add your own. If you do change the CSS file it will help reduce any fixes that might occur when you update WordPress.

Your living smarter by creating custom child themes. Especially if you have clients or multiple websites. Then when you need to update your website you won’t need to worry about breaking your theme.

Have any questions? Something not clear? Did I miss something? Share your thoughts. We would love to hear from you!

About Derek Hanson

Derek Hanson is a digital strategist and founder of Emprise Media, a digital web design and internet marketing firm. You can connect with him on Google+, Twitter, and Linkedin.
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