What is a wordpress child theme? Basically, it’s a set of files that allow you to overwrite the parent theme (original theme) without causing any permanent harm to it. A child theme allows you to modify an existing theme how you see fit. Change colors, font’s sizes etc.
As a wordpress child theme developer, I’ve worked with many different free and professional wordpress themes. Some of them come pre-packaged with their own child themes. You should always try to use the pre-packaged child theme vs making your own. Sometimes the developer has to construct the child theme a certain way in order for your theme to activate and function properly.
Despite what the codex tells you about child themes, not every theme is going to be “child theme friendly”. Some of them just won’t work properly and it is up to the developer to make sure it does.
Then there are a lot of themes that do function just fine with a child theme, but they don’t come pre-packaged with one. So you have to make it yourself, which will probably take you a good 15 minutes to construct. I don’t know about you, but my time is money. Lets try and bump that down to 5 minutes shall we.
Below you will find the core files needed to start your child theme.
- An empty functions.php file
- An starter style.css file (which needs to be edited)
- A sample screenshot.png
The following kit still contains my specific information so you can follow by example.
Open up and edit the style.css file.
- Change Theme Name to any name you would like to name your new custom child theme. I usually go with the name of the client’s business.
- Change Theme URI. I like to point to the parent theme with this URL. That way if there is a new developer in the future, he/she has something to refer to.
- Change Description. As you can see, I simply state that it is a Child theme for U-Design. U-Design is a premium theme offered by Themeforest.
- Change Author to your name or business name.
- Change Author URI to your own website.
- Template. This is important to change correctly in order for your child theme to actually work. You should already have the parent theme installed (but not activated). While in FTP make your way to /public_html/wp-content/themes/. In the themes section, take note of the exact name of the parent theme. It is case sensitive. This is how wordpress will know which template you are trying to override.
- Version. If you have created a few versions of your child theme and you would like to keep track of it, just number it how you see fit. I never usually change this though.
After you have developed a couple child themes, you will get the hang of editing the file and it won’t take anything but 60 seconds to do.
Create your own screenshot.png. As you can see in my example, I chose to customize this with the clients logo and specify it was a child theme. You can make yours however you see fit. Adding your own business logo perhaps? Just make sure it’s 240px wide by 180px high.
No need to change the functions.php file. This file will allow you to add your own php functions. Notice how I said “ADD”. Not override.
Now upload your unzipped child theme folder via FTP in the /wp-content/themes/ section. P.S. You can custom name the folder anything you want. Make your way back to the wordpress dashboard and you should be able to see your new child theme and custom screenshot you created in the Appearance > Themes section. If everything looks ok, activate your new child theme!
This post was intended to be a quick wordpress child theme kit download for developers who are already familiar with child theme development. For those that need a more in depth look at what child themes are and how they function please refer to the following articles.