Join Carrie Dils for an in-depth discussion in this video What is a child theme?, part of Up and Running with Genesis for WordPress.
We talked about WordPress being the engine powering your site, and Genesis being the framework around it. So to stick with that automotive example, you can think of a child theme as the paint job. A child theme is a layer of code, that runs on top of the Genesis framework, and inherits all of its functionality. A child theme mainly controls the design elements of your site. But it can also extend and modify default behaviors in the Genesis Framework. For example, on a single post the Genesis Framework displays the post title followed by the post info. That's the part with the date and the author's name in the comments.
With the child theme, you could easily override this default behavior and display the post info before the post title, and that's just scratching the surface. A child theme provides near limitless opportunities to customize your site. If you've been around WordPress long you've likely heard cautionary tales about editing and updating themes. I remember the first time I customized a WordPress theme, I was so proud of myself until the moment a theme update was available and I pushed that update button, not realizing that all my customizations would be lost. Now, I mentioned this because the beauty of working with the child theme on the Genesis framework is that you can make unlimited customizations to the child theme without fear of losing them on an update.
While the Genesis framework has regular updates available, your child theme will never need an update. You can safely update the Genesis framework all day long without fear of overriding anything in your child theme. As an example, you can see here, I've got the Genesis Sample Theme active on my site. But there's an update available for the Genesis Framework. So, I can go ahead and update the theme now. And that's just updating the Genesis Framework. It's not affecting my child theme at all. The Genesis Framework is available from StudioPress.com and there you can also download the Genesis Sample Theme.
You can use the Sample Child Theme as the basis for your customizations or choose from a ton of really beautiful themes in the StudioPress marketplace. In addition to the themes sold on the StudioPress website, there are a number of third party theme developers creating and selling child themes for the Genesis Framework. As you can see, there are no shortage of themes to choose from. The fun part comes from picking the one that's best for your project.
- What is Genesis?
- Which files make up a child theme?
- Setting up navigation options, breadcrumbs, and comments
- Adding custom header and footer scripts
- Working with menus
- Working with the Featured Post and Featured Page widgets
- Using the Genesis Import/Export feature