Why Having a Child Theme is Important for Your WordPress Website

You and your website designer have finally selected the WordPress theme (from the thousands that are available) that you feel is the best fit for your website. However, it’s not completely matching your vision and you want to make adjustments to the design. This is where using a child theme comes in.

It’s important to understand what a child theme is and its relationship to the original, or “parent” theme. The parent theme is “a complete theme which includes all of the required WordPress template files and assets for the theme to work.” The child theme inherits the look and functionality of the parent theme but can be used to modify any part of the theme without touching the parent’s core files and assets. The child theme overwrites specific assets of the parent theme, while maintaining the rest from the parent.

Benefits of Child Themes:

  • Allows you to easily reproduce or move your modifications
  • Keeps your customizations separate from parent theme functions
  • Parent themes can be updated without deleting your modifications
  • Save on development time as you are not starting from scratch

Although it may initially feel a bit intimidating, it is not that difficult to create a child theme in WordPress. There are three main steps to set up a child theme:

  1. Create a theme folder in your wp-content/themes folder.
  2. Create a stylesheet that you will put in that child theme folder that designates the parent theme stylesheet.
  3. Enqueue stylesheet by creating a functions.php file for your child theme and include the enqueue PHP script.

For the full instructions on how to do this, visit the WordPress theme handbook page.

You should avoid making changes directly to the parent theme files, as your customizations will be lost once the theme is updated. Some people will then skip theme updates in order to avoid this, but it is not advisable to do so; the updates may include important bug fixes and new features and skipping them could result in security and compatibility problems.

For Website Owners, your Key Take-Away is this:

Before you engage a new website designer, be sure s/he understands the importance of Child Themes, and plans to implement one on your new WordPress website to prevent problems and unnecessary work maintaining your site in the future.

UmeWorks has built many WordPress websites and implements child themes as part of our usual practice. If you want an experienced website designer and developer, schedule a free initial phone consultation with UmeWorks to discuss your website needs.

Contact UmeWorks Today

Why it is Important to Keep Your WordPress Website Updated

Great News! You finally finished your new WordPress website. Take a moment to marvel at its beauty and pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Now that the moment has passed, it’s time to start thinking about updating that beautiful old site. That’s right old. Welcome to the digital age where websites can be put up quickly and become outdated even quicker — both the content and software.

If you’re thinking that your website doesn’t need to be updated on a regular basis then here are a few things for you to consider.

Maintain your Security

You may be thinking that your WordPress site does not need to change its appearance but you may be forgetting an important factor. Your website may no longer be secure. Thousands of WordPress sites get blacklisted due to hackers, malware, and ransomware. One of the best ways to protect yourself is to make sure your WordPress site stays updated.

Since WordPress is open source software, it will typically receive minor updates automatically. For major updates, you will need to do the work yourself. Deciding not to do this can leave your website seriously exposed.

The other factor to consider from a security perspective is that WordPress uses a large number of third-party plug-ins. Each one of these third-party maintainers releases updates to their plug-ins. That means that you need to be mindful of more than just WordPress open source updates. The damage to your website and your credibility from a successful cyber-attack can ruin your website.

Skipping Updates can be Problematic

So now you may be thinking that you can just do the updates that concern you the most. Skipping updates here and there can’t really hurt, can it? Well, yes it can.

Skipping updates can actually cause significant problems. Open source software solutions are great in that so many talented people can contribute to its overall success. The downside to this is that there are several opportunities for problems to be introduced.

If you choose to skip updates you may spend more time resolving problems than you would have spent just doing the updates in order. Many a WordPress website has experienced unnecessary downtime because its owner was “saving time” by skipping updates here and there.

There is a Better Way

To help you keep your WordPress website up to date, here are a few simple steps that you can follow to safely upgrade your site.

  1. Create a backup site – Before you do any changes to your production site, you need to create a backup. This will allow you to restore the site quickly if anything goes wrong with the upgrade.
  2. Create a Staging site – The next step is to create a staging site. This is a copy of your WordPress website that you can safely make updates to. Updates made to your staging site will not be reflected on your live production site.
  3. Accept updates – This is where you incorporate the updates to WordPress, your theme, and the various plug-ins.
  4. Test the staging site – Now that the changes have been applied, you can safely test your site to see if there were any problems. If so, you can fix them without disrupting the live site.
  5. Move changes to the production site – Once you are happy with the testing, you can move the updated site to your production libraries.
  6. Test the live site – If it works then great. If not, then you can restore from the backup.
how to update your WordPress site

Following these simple steps will keep your WordPress website updated and running smoothly.

Make Sense, But You Already Have Enough to Do?

We know you didn’t go into business to maintain your website. The good news? UmeWorks can help. You do what you do best, and we’ll do the same. We can keep your website humming along – we’ll update the software – and the content too, if you wish. Just contact us to get started.  We can even set you up with a site security monitoring service if you’d like that peace of mind.