I spend a lot of time customizing and modifying existing themes for clients. Since I’m usually elbow-deep in someone else’s code, having the ability to revert back to the original design if I run into a glitch is a wonderful safety net.
Aside from an initial backup of the website, I like to err on the side of caution and not edit the original theme files.
NEVER EDIT THE ORIGINAL THEME FILES.
It will save you lots of time and trouble come errors or theme updates.
Got that? Good. So, instead of editing the theme files directly, I start by making a child theme of their existing website theme.
If you’ve never made a child theme, it is definitely one of the easier WordPress tasks and well worth your time. You can read all about them in the Codex, but the main premise of a child theme is that there is a “parent” theme you are building upon. This child theme will let you make edits and modifications without messing up the original theme.
3 Steps to Setup a Child Theme
If you want to jump into using one, it’s as simple as the following 3 steps:
1. Create a new theme folder in /wp-content/themes/.
2. Add a stylesheet (style.css) to your new theme folder with the following code:
Theme Name: Child Theme Name
Theme URI: http://yoursitename.com/
Description: This is a custom child theme I have created.
Author: Your Name
Author URI: http: //yoursitename.com/
In the above code, you want to update the value “parenthemefolder” to the folder name of the parent theme. There are other values you can update, as they are generic values, but at the very least you want to make this one change.
3. Activate new child theme in WordPress.
It’s as simple as that!
So the next time you find yourself in need of working with an unfamiliar theme or a new website, start by creating a child theme and then move from there.
You’ll save yourself a lot of headaches!