New Year, New Theme

screenshotI know. I just changed themes back in November. Truth be told I never was quite satisfied with that theme. It was OK, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for. So I did what I’ve been putting off for a really long time – I dug into the process of creating a child theme.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with WordPress, or just use it and don’t care how it works, WordPress allows you to create child themes that are based on a parent theme. Think of it this way, when you create a child theme WordPress looks at your theme first. If it finds what it needs it uses it. If not, it looks in the parent theme. The advantage is that you can make all of your changes in the child without harming the parent. Also, if the author of the parent theme updates it you don’t lose all your changes when you upgrade to the new version.

The requirements for a child theme are very simple. You need a folder in your theme directory and a style sheet. You could easily create a child theme that does absolutely nothing by having only those two elements. If you have no other files and nothing beyond what is required in the style sheet your child theme would behave exactly the same as the parent. Exactly. But that would be silly.

I started with Twentytwelve, the latest theme from the creators of WordPress. It was already pretty close to what I wanted, but not quite.

The first thing I changed was the navigation bar. In Twentytwelve it is above the header image. I wanted it below, so I moved it. Of course I wanted to keep Chris Muir’s Day By Day. I’ve displayed that cartoon almost as long as I’ve been blogging. I already had the code to display the strip between the first and second posts on the front page, but now I won’t have to re-insert it if the parent theme gets updated.

Those were the two major coding changes. The rest of the adjustments were cosmetic. On the web cosmetic means CSS. Those changes are easy to do, but the tweaking process can be exasperating and time consuming.

You see the results before you. I’m very pleased with the results. I’m also happy with the things I learned. Let me know what you think.

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