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Picking a parent theme

From: WordPress 3: Building Child Themes

Video: Picking a parent theme

Picking a theme is one of the joys and one of the frustrations of working with WordPress. There are thousands and thousands of themes available and you can usually find something that gets pretty close to what you want if you just look hard enough. Looking for a parent theme for your child theme is no different, but when you're looking for a parent theme, there are some extra considerations to keep in mind. If you're looking at free themes and premium themes side-by-side, you'll see there are some significant differences that are really important, especially if you're relying on a parent theme to build your child theme.

Picking a parent theme

Picking a theme is one of the joys and one of the frustrations of working with WordPress. There are thousands and thousands of themes available and you can usually find something that gets pretty close to what you want if you just look hard enough. Looking for a parent theme for your child theme is no different, but when you're looking for a parent theme, there are some extra considerations to keep in mind. If you're looking at free themes and premium themes side-by-side, you'll see there are some significant differences that are really important, especially if you're relying on a parent theme to build your child theme.

Because they're free you can't expect free themes to be regularly upgraded. That's simply because no one is getting paid to keep the themes up-to-date, so chances are if you pick a free theme that's not developed by a core developer who is really invested in keeping the theme up-to-date, you may see the theme lagging behind for a while and then all of a sudden there is a major update that happens where everything gets changed. Premium themes on the other hand, because you're paying for them, you can expect them to be upgraded on a regular basis. However, if you're buying a premium theme, you need to make sure that the theme foundry is committing to keeping the theme up-to-date, because they don't always do, and they sometimes deprecate themes.

In free themes you'll also find that in some cases there is nonstandard code inside the theme. By that I mean, the theme may not be built out exactly the way it should and there might be small errors within the theme. This is getting better in the WordPress Theme Directory, because they're cracking down on badly written themes, but if you're going out on the web in general and finding random themes, you may find themes that have a lot of errors in them. With premium themes, because you're paying for them, you can expect them to be standards compliant and you can expect them to be error-free.

However, there's a caveat to that. In premium themes you'll often find proprietary code, meaning instead of using core WordPress functionality, the developer may have created new functionality specifically for that theme or for that foundry, so that those functions only work as long as you use their themes, and if you ever move away from their themes, you'll lose some of your content. Free themes are generally sparse on features, meaning you get core functionality from WordPress and not much else.

In premium themes, you generally get a lot of extra stuff. That's why they're premium themes, but like I said, a lot of that stuff will be proprietary. So you have to keep in mind that a lot of those fancy features may not carry over if at some point in the future you decide to move away from that premium theme or that premium theme foundry. Free themes in general cannot be expected to be future proof, meaning you can't expect them to be updated and you can't expect them to start including new features that come out with WordPress, at least not immediately. That is unless you install a theme that comes directly from WordPress itself.

So one of the default themes for instance will always be up-to-date and will always have all the new features built in. On the other hand, premium themes may have extra caveats that you're not aware of. For example, I've seen theme foundries that actually charge you extra if you want to make a child theme based on one of their premium themes. So that's something you have to look up before you buy a theme from a premium theme foundry. Although there are thousands of free and premium WordPress themes out there to choose from, chances are you're actually better off just using one of the default themes that comes with WordPress when you're creating a child theme.

The reason for that is the default themes have all the latest features, they're all built properly, they're future proof, and they're always easy to work with, because they have great documentation. In this course, we'll be working with the Twenty Twelve theme, which was released in the fall of 2012. This theme is simple to use, it has all the core features we need, and it's written in such a way that it's easy to understand and easy to build child themes from.

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This video is part of

Image for WordPress 3: Building Child Themes
WordPress 3: Building Child Themes

45 video lessons · 33000 viewers

Morten Rand-Hendriksen
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 6m 59s
    1. Welcome
      1m 6s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 34s
    3. What you need to know before watching this course
      1m 29s
    4. Getting the right tools for theme creation
      2m 50s
  2. 17m 2s
    1. What is a WordPress child theme and when should you use it?
      2m 38s
    2. Picking a parent theme
      3m 55s
    3. Making sure you have the Twenty Twelve parent theme
      1m 50s
    4. Creating and activating a basic child theme
      4m 20s
    5. Importing parent theme styles
      4m 19s
  3. 16m 2s
    1. Using the developer tools
      3m 53s
    2. Modifying existing styles
      4m 24s
    3. Adding space between paragraphs
      4m 7s
    4. Changing font family styles
      3m 38s
  4. 31m 47s
    1. Understanding the WordPress template hierarchy
      3m 12s
    2. Modifying existing templates
      2m 33s
    3. Moving the header image
      4m 29s
    4. Adding Related Posts feature to posts
      6m 26s
    5. Creating custom page templates
      5m 43s
    6. Using conditional statements for customized effects
      5m 41s
    7. Creating custom header, footer, and sidebar templates
      3m 43s
  5. 17m 5s
    1. Understanding the different index pages and what they do
      4m 6s
    2. Adding author, date, and time information to the index loop
      7m 15s
    3. Changing the appearance of category index pages
      5m 44s
  6. 43m 5s
    1. Introducing functions.php
      3m 24s
    2. Overriding existing functions
      3m 23s
    3. Adding pagination to index pages
      5m 49s
    4. Adding to existing functions
      3m 21s
    5. Adding a new footer menu to Twenty Twelve
      6m 24s
    6. Adding a new widgetized area to pages
      4m 9s
    7. Adding static content to the sidebar
      7m 44s
    8. Replacing existing functions
      2m 36s
    9. Adding a Google font through a function
      6m 15s
  7. 10m 24s
    1. Adding new featured image sizes
      5m 41s
    2. Adding featured images to posts and pages
      4m 43s
  8. 31m 1s
    1. Adding a welcome message to the front page
      1m 22s
    2. Displaying page content in an index page
      7m 42s
    3. Hooking in a featured image
      4m 34s
    4. Making the welcome message responsive
      6m 27s
    5. Restricting content to the first page of the blog
      4m 22s
    6. Adding a jQuery function to show or hide the welcome message
      6m 34s
  9. 10m 23s
    1. Adding a custom favicon
      3m 58s
    2. Adding a custom screenshot
      2m 29s
    3. Adding footer information
      3m 56s
  10. 7m 14s
    1. What to do when a child theme crashes your website
      4m 38s
    2. Updating parent and child themes
      2m 36s

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