What Are Child Themes and When Should You Use Them

Web designers and developers have plenty of tools under their belt when it comes to creating websites. One of the most versatile is the use of a WordPress child theme. These are an invaluable asset for creating websites fast and not having to worry about losing changes and styling details when the parent theme is updated.

A child theme is a prebuilt set of code which gives a WordPress website a specific look and style. As the name suggests, a child theme is an addition to the main theme, aptly called the parent theme. As you know, themes come in all shapes and sizes, from simple and free to more complex and customizable. No matter the size, all WordPress themes can have child themes.

A Web designer or developer can create their own child theme or buy one online. To create a custom child theme, a site first needs to be built with the parent theme. All the custom styling and code changes need to be finished and the site needs to work well. Only then should it be turned into a child theme. Offering this service is a very lucrative business.

The option of buying and sourcing already built child themes is what helps web designers make websites fast and efficiently. The most common parent themes are Genesis, Divi, and Avada. The parent themes which have built-in builders are even more versatile for the use of child themes.

Let’s look at when it’s a good idea to have a child theme and when it’s just not necessary.programmer picture

When are child themes really a necessity?

There are instances where using a child theme is an absolute necessity, others when not so much. First, let’s look at the ones that are. If as a web developer or designer, you like to customize a theme to its limits and beyond, you need to use child themes. Especially if you are changing things on the back end like the .php code.

If you offer customers customized and unique websites using a parent theme, then you definitely need to create a child theme for their site.

Another instance applies to web designers who have many clients and need to build sites fast. There are many child theme options available to help designers create a site very fast. For example, the Superfly child themes for Divi are created to fit the module and section builders. This means that even though its a child theme, it can still be used in different ways. Almost like a never-ending puzzle.

One of the greatest advantages of a child theme is that it can be customized and modified without making any changes to the parent theme. Since the parent theme stays unchanged, updates will do no harm to the child theme. If you have ever created a website and customized the theme without a child theme, you know what this means. Updates can break stylings, change colors and get rid of special fonts.

When are child themes unnecessary?

Sometimes child themes are unnecessary; for example, if a website is not being built on WordPress. Wix, Weebly, and Siteground don’t use child themes. If building a website with WordPress, a child theme isn’t necessary if a theme is used as is. Even small changes don’t need a child theme.

If you are creating a simple website with a theme that you think is just perfect, don’t even consider creating a child theme for it.

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Where to get ready to use child themes?

The best themes to use child themes with are Avada, The Genesis Framework, and Divi. The Genesis Framework is the most popular web building theme out there and the amount of child themes available is beyond belief. There are hundreds of free child themes for The Genesis Framework plus more complex ones that cost 10, 20 or a bit more dollars.

The Avada theme is more complex and elaborate than The Genesis Framework and there are also some really nice child themes for it. You can find good Avada child themes on Theme Forest and Theme Fusion. Avada also supplies some child themes from inside the builder.

The Divi theme is the all-in-one unicorn theme which is quickly becoming the favorite with web designers. Divi child themes are a high commodity, apart from the ones inside the theme builder itself. One of the best and most versatile are the ones created by the devs at Superfly and also from designer Melissa Love.

Over to you

As you see, child themes are quite a practical tool for web designers and developers. Have you tried using a child theme for one of your web design projects yet? Did you make it yourself or source one which was already made? Which parent theme did you use? Tell us in the comments!