When building your website you have many options. One of the most popular options for website beginners is to use what’s called a theme. However, if you want to customize the theme to fit your unique needs and design preferences, you step into a new world. To create a unique site, you will want to decide between a WordPress custom theme and a WordPress child theme.
What Is The Difference Between a Custom Theme and a Child Theme?
Let’s start with the definition of a theme. A theme is a template that is designed specifically to enhance the appearance and functionality of a website. A custom theme is a template that is built from the ground up by a website designer. They start with a plan and create the theme one line of code at a time.
A child theme is quite a bit different. When you buy a theme online, or download a free theme, it’s called a “parent theme.” The Parent Theme is an independent WordPress Theme that can run completely on its own. A child theme cannot run on its own. It is a packet of code, or files that needs a parent theme to function. The purpose of a child theme is to add customization to a parent theme without having to create an entire new theme or template. You get the full functionality of the parent theme and the customization of the child theme.
Custom Theme Pros and Cons
The primary benefit of a custom theme is that you will have a completely unique website. No other business will have the same site as yours. Additionally, you can ensure that your site looks, feels, and functions exactly as you want it to. You don’t have to try to find plug-ins that work for you or struggle to add code to a theme to make it work the way you want it to.
The biggest downside to this approach is cost. It can cost many thousands of dollars to have a 100% custom theme created. Many designers who advertise custom themes actually create child themes and customize existing templates. Additionally, updating your custom WordPress theme can be tricky and it may not work with a desired plug-in.
Child Theme Pros and Cons
The advantage to a child theme is that you can continue using a parent theme and change child themes without any repercussions to your site. You can also easily update your parent theme, as updates are released, without affecting your child theme.
Child themes also cost much less than a fully custom theme. A child theme gives you the ability to customize your website without risk or expense. The downside is that you may not have a 100% unique theme and you may still need to adapt your needs to what’s possible with a child theme.
In most cases a child theme is a faster and more economical approach to creating a unique website that meets your business needs. If you want a completely original website that looks and feels exactly as you want it to, then a custom theme is the right choice for you.