Maintaining and Customizing Child Themes

Community Forums Forums General Discussion Maintaining and Customizing Child Themes

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Stacey C 2 years, 7 months ago.

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    Stacey C

    Hi there,

    My experience with creating WordPress themes is either creating themes from scratch, usually using a framework (like genesis, builder, thesis, etc.) or off an existing theme (usually a Client will purchase from themeforest). With developing off a framework or existing theme, it’s known common practice to use a child theme for a number of reasons. One reason (important to me) is to be able to update the parent theme without issue.

    I’m interested to know what the common practice is for using Genesis as the parent theme and a Studio Press child theme, and needing to customize or extend functionality or create new templates. Grandchild themes are poor practice so should be avoided, as would be modifying the child theme directly. This would prevent easy updating of the child theme.

    I’m new to Genesis so am curious to know how other developers are doing this, ensuring that both Genesis and child themes can be easily updated. This would be for theme projects that go beyond just simple CSS and function changes, or sites where it’s inevitable that modifications and additions need to be made to a child theme. I understand the obvious answer would be to use the Genesis framework and create a custom child theme, but many Clients will be choosing a child theme from Studio Press and we would work with theme to modify this specific theme.

    Any suggestions?




    Grandchild themes are poor practice so should be avoided, as would be modifying the child theme directly. This would prevent easy updating of the child theme.

    Modifying the child theme as far as I am aware, is the only way that you are going to be able to customize a theme. Since child themes are only rarely updated, it’s usually not an issue to worry about what happens when a theme is updated – tell the client not to automatically update the child theme, or customization will be lost.

    When I make changes to a theme, I usually make notes in either the stylesheet or the PHP to keep track of changes I’ve made, should I need to update them further.

    Susan @ One Happy Studio I offer theme customizations I tweet!
    I’ve taken up the challenge! – help me answer some of the unanswered posts


    Stacey C

    Thanks for the insight, Susan. I can see potential issues with this, as you mention – the Client updating the child theme, or another developer working on the site after me and updating, and the extra time updating will take (so to be careful not to overwrite any customization). These aren’t every day issues so they are moderately acceptable, assuming the child theme isn’t updated too often. Otherwise it would be a burden. I’ll include a readme in my theme folder which indicates files changed to ensure they aren’t overwritten by me or others. For myself, I know it’ll be read. For others, I doubt it :) The real issue is the future and the potential issues this will have 1, or 2 years down the road.

    Appreciate the reply!




    As you know, Genesis is updated by the developers of Studiopress and that’s the framework that drives the child theme. Some of your issues may happend 3 or 6 months from now if they update something that also needs updating in your child theme. This was the case a year or so ago when some files were changed which removed the “color selectors” in themes that came with multiple colors. SP had to add instructions on each individual theme on the old support board so people could manually change it until they were able to get a new release out. So at some point – your client may get a hiccup after an update which will require your assistance. Do you offer some sort of forum board or support in case they have problems down the road. Do you provide email support in case something like this happens?


    Stacey C

    Hi Anitac,

    I do not have a forum board for support as I primarily work for development companies, providing services to their customers. Clients are quick to report issues, so I have no fear they’ll be unable to get a hold of me :) The point is I’d like to decrease the chance of things going wrong in the future so it doesn’t result in an unhappy Client, or me losing money to fix it in order to make them happy again. There are a few precautions I can (and will) take, but none are the holy grail.


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