WordPress Child Theme – Have Cake & Eat it Too

Jul12

WordPress Child Theme:

If you use a pre-packaged WordPress theme, take precautions to prevent your custom styling additions from breaking during updates by creating a “WordPress Child Theme.”

Here at Digital Canvas we do a lot of website work using WordPress.

One of the great things about using WordPress for your website is that it’s pretty easy to work with, and there are so many ready-made themes. Themes are what give a website it’s distinct look and feel. With WordPress, there are thousands of free themes and thousands more that can be purchased for just a small up front cost.

With so many options to choose from, there are lots of people who have become do-it-yourselfers, building their own websites and opening up shop online.

We love that and applaud those who have the courage to strike out on their own! But there are a couple pitfalls that we see over and over.

Most Pre-Packaged WordPress Themes will get you 90% there

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See, you can very often find a theme that does 90% of what you want it to do. But then, you have to do a bit of customizing to get that last 10% just right. So you dig into the online message boards and forums, and you find a bit of code that you can insert here or there in your theme, and it gets closer and closer to what you really want. Maybe even just perfect.

 

The Update that Breaks Everything

PrintBut then, the theme gets updated. You get a notice about the update in your WordPress dashboard that you should update your theme. And, YES, you should update your theme. Updates take care of security issues and any number of other things that keep your site in top shape.

So you click “Update Theme.” It seems to go as planned. You get a “Success!” message. But then you go back to look at your site and (GASP!) all your changes have been wiped out and you’re back to the original theme with your 10% to perfection gone!

Enter the WordPress Child Theme

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What many beginners don’t realize is that the whole Theme Update Disaster scenario can be avoided by making all of your customizations inside a **WordPress Child Theme**.

A Child Theme, simply put, is a mini theme that inherits most of it’s characteristics from a parent theme. Simple enough. Just like your real kids are chips off the old block. Only children are never *exactly* like their parents, are they? They have their own individuality.

By using a child theme, your website inherits the “code genes” of the parent theme, but can re-mix or mutate those genes to do it’s own individual thing. You get the best of both worlds, a site that has all the major stuff taken care of, but has the ability to keep that 10% difference you need to make the site truly your own.

Best of all, if something changes or gets updated in the parent theme, you get all the benefits of the update without losing all the hard work you’ve done to get things just the way you want them. If you decide to change your customizations in your child theme, you don’t have to worry about breaking something in the parent theme.

Do Yourself a Favor

We’re all for you getting out there and doing your thing online. And, if you choose to build your site with WordPress, we’re confident you’ll find it’s one of the easiest ways to get started.

Just keep in mind: you’ll save yourself a lot of time and heartache if you start using a child theme from the beginning. You’ll find easy to follow instructions for getting your child theme started on the WordPress Codex.

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Of course, as fun and exciting as *we* think it is to build websites, we know it’s not for everyone. If you’d rather work with a team that’s built lots of websites, loves doing it, and has the experience to avoid the pitfalls — well, we’re here to help. (And if you get started and then get stuck, we’d love to help with that, too!)

Contact Digital Canvas for help with your WordPress website today!

Building a Website – Part 1: Where to Begin

Mar01

Building a Website – Part 1: Where to Begin

 

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At Digital Canvas, we get lots of people who call or email to ask about starting a website. Whether you’re starting a brand new business and want to simply “hang out a shingle” online, or whether you’re trying to expand into e-commerce to sell your latest and greatest, getting started with a website can seem like a daunting task. Where to even begin?

We like to start by asking our new web clients where they see a website fitting in with their larger business plan. This makes sense, if you think about it in the same terms you think of any other business investment. Your website is an asset like your building, your company vehicles, or your equipment. You’re going to put your money down and in exchange you want a tool that will enable your business to generate revenue.

So, the beginning point is asking yourself: What role do you see your website playing in the way your business makes its bread and butter?

Publicity is one that comes to mind for many clients right away. “We want to be Number 1 on Google.” As you think about your website in terms of giving your business publicity, it’s helpful to push yourself a little further.

If someone finds you on Google, what happens then? What do you want them to actually do when they get to your website?

  • If you are an author, you probably want them to order a copy of your book.
  • If you are a restaurant, you probably want them to make a reservation for dinner.
  • If you’re a car dealer, you probably want them to enquire about a car.
  • If you’re a motivational speaker, you probably want them to buy a ticket to an upcoming seminar.
  • If you’re an accountant, you probably want them to call you for an appointment.
  • If you’re an animal shelter, you might want them to fill out an adoption form or send a donation.

Whatever it is for your business, the first step for your website is to clearly understand how it fits in and helps you do the main thing you do.

Notice I haven’t said a word yet about technology or whether you should get on the phone with GoDaddy (because they’re the ones with the crazy SuperBowl ads — which must mean, of course, they know how to spend a lot of money on advertising) or if that MyCheapWebsite.com service your Uncle Dave is telling you about every time you see him is really the way to go.

That’s because nobody can tell you what technology you need, or how much it’s going to cost until you know what kind of asset your want your website to be. If you put the cart before the horse, you buy into something because it looked flashy or promised to be easy or inexpensive or someone told you “this is what everyone is doing,” you can easily end up with a liability instead of an asset.

At Digital Canvas, we believe that the place to begin a website comes long before the first napkin sketch of your home page is drawn. It starts with you answering the question: “How does this investment fit into the way my business does its most important thing?”

If you’re ready to start building your website as an asset to improve your business, we’d love to help. Drop us a note online, or give us a call, 330-877-3075. Maybe, after exploring these questions with you, we’ll be able to build a website with you. Or, if our talents and abilities don’t meet your needs, we will refer you to someone we know with the right skill set.

If you’re interested in checking out some of the websites we’ve helped other clients create, browse our portfolio’s Web Design area.

Cheers!

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