Don’t make this Costly Mistake when Customizing Your WordPress Theme

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This page reveals the correct way to customize your WordPress theme.

What is the mistake and why is it costly?

The mistake most newbie WordPress developers make is modifying the WordPress theme directly rather than making a Child Theme and modifying that instead.

If you modify or customize your theme directly, your modifications may be lost next time you update the theme. Then you have to waste time applying the modifications again (if you remember how you did them 🙂

While this can be a nightmare due to the loss of time just for one website, the effects of this mistake are multiplied if you have more than one website. Such is the case with web developers, web designers and niche affiliate bloggers for example.

I know for a fact that there are people out there selling web development services who use WordPress to create websites for their clients. The mistake many of them make when first starting out is to use a great looking theme for their clients and make modifications to the theme directly.

Then, WordPress releases an update. Then the theme they are using breaks. Then they update the theme. Then the modifications they have made to the original theme are lost.

Depending on the number of clients these web designers have, this can result in many hundreds of lost hours fixing up the themes again.

The Solution?

When you decide to use a particular WordPress theme, always create a Child Theme and install them both at the same time. Then use the Child Theme as the Active theme.

Best Practice

If you need to customize or modify the theme, apply the modifications to the Child Theme. This is best practice because it protects your modifications from being lost when the parent theme gets updated.

Not Required On All Themes

While creating a WordPress Child Theme is the absolute best way to ensure your websites are looking how you want them to look, you won’t have to do it with all themes.

For example, I have noticed that Thesis theme core files are separate from my skins and custom CSS. What this means is when Thesis theme gets updated, my custom changes will remain intact.

This also means that I do not need to create a Child Theme because the developer (Chris Pearson) has solved this problem in advance.



  • Unless you know for sure that your custom files will be protected after a theme update, always create a Child Theme.
  • Make the Child Theme the Active theme (not the parent theme).
  • Always add any custom code to the Child Theme.


These child themes are Bare Bones meaning they’re a blank slate ready to modify.

The featured stock photo in this post is copyright © taramara78 – Fotolia.

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