Why You Don’t Need a Child Theme

Why You Don’t Need a Child Theme

The question will be asked many times. Here is the answer for the DIY person who does not need to know code to use the Divi Theme. The Divi Theme has integrated a method to tidy up the loose code all over the Internet. Code isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to. The modification of the Divi Theme will essentially be in the area of the functions.php files. This is only if you want to build a template or a specific style.

If you are a developer and specifically want to build unique Themes and use the Divi Framework, then you would create a Child Theme. But it is not necessary to think you have to use a Child Theme just because the Divi Theme updates regularly. This is what you do want with a Theme, regular updates.

Misinformation

This is one of the most unfortunate problems on the web. You have to check out the information and take a look at what’s in it for the person giving you the information. Not everyone has your best interests in mind. What they have in mind is to tell you that you need something when you don’t. How do you know the difference? If you find a beautiful Theme styled in Divi made by a developer and decide you want to use that Theme, then you use that theme. This will most probably be a Child Theme and the developer will have instructions on how to use the Child Theme.

When I first started out with WordPress, I used a styled Theme because I did not know how WordPress worked. I had to operate within the limitations of the Theme. After a while the Theme I was using was too restricting, I wanted the freedom to have a different layout on the page. I only had a choice of a single column or two columns. When I added pictures it didn’t look right and I wasn’t satisfied. There had to be a better Theme. There was, I wrote about it in this article.

What’s the Purpose of the Website

If the Website is for a large company with a membership base, or a forum, then we’re departing from the basic five page website. That’s a different story, but depending on what you want to extend the website into will help you make the decision about using a Child Theme. But, it is not true that you have to use a Child Theme. You don’t, unless you decide you want to use one based on the specific needs for your website. If you use CSS styling in the Advanced tab in a module, you won’t lose the styling when Divi updates.

Leaping Technology

We can hardly keep up with all this tech stuff. It can get overwhelming. It’s not going to slow down, but what does improve is the software, like WordPress and the Divi Theme. I only mention these two products because I use them every day. One of the new leaps in technology is the coming changes to the WordPress editor section, the place where you enter content onto the page or post. This change only puts the icon in a different place, but it is the same icon.

Have you noticed how you might visit a website and the design is totally changed from what it was when you last visited the page. You have to mouse around to find a setting, it’s just in a different place. Well, the same is true with the new WordPress Editor, named Gutenberg.

WordPress is an incredible software and it takes its place as the number one used software worldwide because it is a deserved place. It is powered by developers who are committed to its excellence and the project is open source. This means developers from all over the world contribute to the core code which is what the Divi Theme overlays.

Change Is Easy To Deal With

The Divi Theme is a complete WordPress Premium Theme on it’s own. Here’s the real secret; the developer and the designer don’t want you to know they use the Divi Theme.  There are also premade layouts in the Divi Library that you can use to build a website. This theme has everything in it and that’s why you don’t need a Child Theme.

The Paradigm of WordPress Gutenberg

The Paradigm of WordPress Gutenberg

A RealTime Paradigm

In real time another paradigm comes in the form of technology through the printing press. Named after it’s predecessor the Gutenberg Editor comes to WordPress. It means the editor will have a facelift. The icons will be the same, their functions won’t change, but they’re in a different place.

Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press which revolutionized the way people produced the printed parchments. As the blocks were laid onto the tray we now lay the blocks onto the web page.

This new system of block building, is also called the modular system. Modules are used to build the content on the page within the Divi Theme. This is one of the excellent features of the Divi Theme.

Oddly enough in the world of developers, there is a backward kind of thinking. The irony of this thinking is, it is so named “backwards compatibility.” Meaning you can roll back a version and use an outdated one instead of an updated one. Why? I would rather use the most updated version instead of an older version.

But nevertheless, you’ll find the nervous developer predicting the end of something because it means more work for them. What comes out is the truth of the matter, nothing ends.

Nothing Ends

Technology changes and improves all the time. WordPress is no exception. You may not know it but there are updates and upgrades happening all the time to the WordPress core software. The coming Gutenberg Editor will indeed make life easier for those of us who like to enter the content in the world’s most popular CMS (content management system) just like it is supposed to be entered.

The Coming Change

The WordPress editor has familiar icons which we use to place the content onto the web page. These familiar icons won’t disappear, they might be in a different place. WordPress is designing its own Page Builder. The most advanced way to build content on a web page.

Page Builders are developers who worked to solve the problem for the users of WordPress not to have to place the content into HTML brackets when writing a blog post.  Change isn’t easy for everyone. You still have developers who  “write” their blog posts in the “text” area, which by the way is the area where you can see the HTML tags. Perhaps it gives them the feeling they’re still doing the “tech” work as it used to be.

Websites are becoming more sophisticated and easier to use. The code is complex, but it runs in the background. The Page Builder lets you put the content directly into the page or blog post without having to have knowledge of HTML. This post is written using the Divi Builder built into the Divi Theme. It is a Page Builder.

The State of the Word US WordCamp 2017

Every year Matt Mullenweg, the co-founder of WordPress gives an update on the progress of the world’s most used software, WordPress. The video recording shows the Gutenberg editor in action and how it changes the WordPress editor.

Developers, desingers, and users of WordPress attend the WordCamp events. At the most recent WordCamp in Nashville, the developers of the most used Page Builders came together, Divi, Elementor, Beaver Builder, and Visual Composer in an iconic picture captured by Jason Champagne of Elegant Themes. These developers are the top of their field and produce excellent Page Builders used with WordPress Themes. Now WordPress core is introducing the Gutenberg Editor. Named after the Johannes Gutenberg, the inventor of the printing press, the Gutenberg WordPress Editor uses building blocks, or placeholders. The area where you place and style the content.

The same concept is used in the Page Builders. You are using the module as a place holder for the content, with the ability to style the content within the module.

The Gutenberg Editor won’t end it all for everyone. WordPress is an open source software. Developers from all over the world contribute to the WordPress core. WordPress is the most used software in the world. Everyone uses it, and they’re not about to abandon it just because WordPress introduces an improvement and gives us the user the best experience.

How Will This Affect The Page Builders?

The developers working with the top Page Builders will incorporate the Gutenberg Editor into the existing Page Builder. The command icons on the toolbar won’t change. What will change are some WordPress Themes built with the current default editor, may not be able to incorporate the Gutenberg Editor.

The Page Builder feature in the Divi Theme is a plugin as are all the Page Builders used in WordPress themes. This time the WordPress core software will have a Page Builder.

As with all new software it’s only a matter of time after using it for a while, you’ll see how it operates. We’re a whole lot smarter with technology than we’ve been led to believe. Finally, we’re getting over the hurdle of not believing everything we see in print.

The paradigm of the Gutenberg editor into WordPress core is no different than what it was when the printing press was invented. People thought the end had come because books were available to be read by everyone.

The dire predictions of the end of WordPress are from those who are afraid of change. The Gutenberg Editor is a real time paradigm, it’s purpose is to elevate everyone’s ability to create content with WordPress.

Control WordPress Dashboard

Control WordPress Dashboard

Congratulations you’ve arrived on the deck of your control panel. We’ll be taking off in a few minutes. Please take a seat and look around the Dashboard, these are the controls in your jurisdiction as the administrator of the site.

You will be logging into your Website dashboard frequently and you could arrive in the dashboard and see an update for WordPress is available. Always make sure you’re running the latest version of WordPress.

Now about the Theme you just bought, it should be installed and ready to go.

When you don’t know, you don’t know. Sounds obvious until you find out what the problem is. There are so many themes in the marketplace it is overwhelming.

What’s the deal with Themes?

It’s a big deal today. There are now so many Themes you have no idea which one is a good Theme. You’re looking at the finished product. The issue isn’t the Theme, but can you operate it.

A theme is a customized modification of WordPress core software. It has a specific design and layout for a particular type of business. The theme is readymade. If you like the design you purchase the Theme. The theme comes with a one year license. At the end of the year you must renew the license, or buy another theme. Another way of doing this is to find a reputable theme company that provides updates to your Theme without you having to change themes every year.

Your relationship with the company that built your theme should include communication, documentation, and technical support at no extra cost. All these decisions should be made before you start working in your website. It’s too late when you need to update WordPress and your Theme breaks.

Switching Themes

Switching Themes is a bad practice. I’ll say it loud and clear.

It’s true you don’t lose the existing content in the site. The problem happens in the back end. A theme has custom code, so if you switch themes, the custom code of the theme you switched to isn’t the same as the one you were using.

The customized code was done by two different people. the result is incompatible code and endless problems and it get’s expensive. Now that we’ve solved the theme issue, and you’re not in the position of needing another theme… if you are read this article on how I solved my website dilemma.

The Modules in the Dashboard

WordPress is well thought out and built for the user. The first module tells you how many posts, pages, comments, and which version of WordPress is currently installed and the name of your Theme.

WordPress News

You will receive updates and news about WordPress. Every WordPress website is linked to the WordPress core software. If there is a serious problem with WordPress you’ll get a notice, keep this module in the dashboard.

There are settings that need to be in place not obvious from the main Dashboard. The first place to go is the Settings tab. When you hover over the Settings command you’ll see the menu of the different settings. There are two lots of settings you need to set. So let’s get settled on what we have to set.

Settings

General, writing, reading, discussion, media permalinks.

These are WordPress settings and are different from your Theme Settings. I know, it’s strange at first, but there’s good news; the WordPress settings once they are in place don’t have to be changed unless you want to modify a setting such as close the blog comments.

You’ll need to familiarize yourself with the different areas within your site. The WordPress settings are different from the Theme Options area. WordPress is the software that drives the site. The Theme is the decorative overlay that enhances the content in the site. In the Divi Theme you have built in options to change the settings and display the content professionally, and add a subtle artistic flair.

Theme Settings

Your WordPress Theme may have the settings in place and you don’t have to do anything. If you bought the Theme from a reputable Theme company the accompanying documentation will explain what settings to implement before using the Theme.  I call this good web housekeeping. When all the settings of your Theme and WordPress is setup properly, then you can get to working on putting the content into the site.

If you don’t know how something works “mouse around,” just click on icons and see what they do. There’s very little damage you can do because the code works in the background while you figure out what something does.

This is the DIvi Theme Options area. You have to go through all these settings to make sure they are enabled. There are no shortcuts with a website. The setting is either enabled or disabled. For example, if you didn’t enable the Divi Gallery in the Theme Options section you cannot select which items you want for the picture gallery display.

I have used the Divi Theme since it came out in 2013. It is such a versatile theme, I have no need for another Theme. The Divi Theme is built by Elegant Themes. I’m a front end user and know very little code. I’m also the kind of person that will read the help menu and watch video documentation until I get an answer to my question. If I can’t solve the problem, I’ll open a support ticket and get help from Elegant Themes technical support.

Here’s the thing with technology, things go wrong, and it isn’t because you don’t know. Software malfunctions and can have errors. Nothing is perfect in the world of technology and websites. It’s just the way it is.

The good news is someone from tech support can answer the question and the problem gets fixed. The bad news is if you have to keep paying someone to fix a problem with your Theme. A reputable theme company will be there when you need tech support and won’t charge you extra because your level of support needs an upgrade.

With your theme purchase comes a license to use the Theme for one year. Make sure you’re familiar with how your Theme is updated and how often. Some say it’s not necessary to update a theme, others say it is necessary. I say an outdated theme is a vulnerable to being hacked. Don’t leave the backdoor open, anyone can walk in.

What to look for with Plugins

The plugin is awesome. It can do these things for you, so you don’t have to do them. While this is true, you need to know about plugins even if you’re not a developer. Most of us aren’t and get caught in the crossfire of technology “experts” who will sell you the latest, greatest, new gadget for your Website.

A plugin is software added into your website.

When was the plugin published?

Is it compatible with the latest version of WordPress core?

Is there tech support for the plugin?

When was the plugin last updated?

Mouse around the developer’s website. Read their About page. There are good and bad developers. You don’t need a plugin for every function. If you have too many plugins loaded into your website you will bloat the site. This causes a collision of the codes used by the developers.

A plugin developer might work with a Theme company. In this case the plugin won’t have any problems with your Theme because it is built for that Theme.

You still have to know how the plugin works and initiate the settings. In the WordPress Dashboard you go to the Plugins area and you’ll see a list of the plugins in your site.

The WordPress Plugin Repository

Go to the Plugins section inside your Website. Click on Add new.

This is where you will find the plugin directory and where you add the plugin to your site. A plugin has to be approved before it can reside in the repository and be available. The Repository has 44,000+ plugins. Choose wisely.

Your New Philosophy

Don’t rely on people to tell you things about technology that you can find out for yourself. Whenever I hear people say they don’t have time, I see a disaster waiting to happen. The time it takes to read the information about a company, a developer, and a plugin, is the pay off. It’s better to be informed than get wrong advice. Yes, there are people who don’t care if they give wrong advice, as long as you pay for the “advice.”

You always want to be in the know, and ask questions. WordPress is not easy and there is a definite learning curve with the software. Once you know where a setting is you enable or disable, turn on or off. Be patient, some of the most complex problems happen with websites because a setting wasn’t enabled.

 

The People Behind WordPress

The People Behind WordPress

A glimpse of the roles of the people who make up the team of the WordPress software from the user’s perspective.

WordPress is an open source software. Since it’s debut in 2003 it has gone on to be the software of choice because of its flexibility and strength at the base of the software. Approximately 60 million websites run on WordPress.

The first role we should consider is the Developer. The person who has a love affair with the code language, the hypertext markup language (HTML) used to drive the software.

The Developer

The brains behind the commands for the code. The system of code follows a definite protocol. Volunteer developers from all over the world contribute to the source code of WordPress.

A developer is a unique individual devoted to logic and challenge and knows HTML and PHP. PHP is an acronym for Hypertext Processor. This is a recurring acronym for all web pages. It is a scripting language used in all open source software.

PHP files have text, HTML (hypertext markup language), CSS (cascading style sheets) the language that describes the style of an HTML document and JavaScript the programming language invented by Brendan Eich in 1995. All these “languages” are used by the developer.

This is what code looks like.

The core WordPress developer team are what is called top tier developers. These are the top of the line and are the developers who know what they are doing. The WordPress software is a testament to their work. They bring the software to the point where the user does not have to make too many choices. The practical decisions of the workings of WordPress commands are in place, all you are doing is using the commands. This is what makes WordPress so flexible and easy to use.

Developers worldwide contribute to the WordPress core. They collaborate and work online. When you think about this accomplishment it’s remarkable. All the different personalities and nationalities uniting through a common computer language to produce the WordPress software.

The WordPress developers say “code is poetry.” It’s a good metaphor as it aptly describes the expression of being able to press words through the WordPress content management system.

The developer’s role encompasses the bloom of technology. It has burst into our lives and enjoys everyday usage by everyone. The ability to develop, design, and use software, is the collaboration of ideas and technology to produce WordPress; the user’s software for a professional website. The developer can come up with a complete solution and solve problems just with the code.

Technology moves fast and the developer moves with it.

The Designer

The new media requires graphics and interactivity. The online experience is not the same as reading a magazine. Originally the magazine editors were called on to transfer what was in print onto the web. This didn’t quite work. The web is not the same as a magazine. The connecting system of active hyperlinks offers more than a single page. Everything is linked within a site and connected from the Homepage to the About page to the Blog page. The user travels with one click and is in control of how they interact with the information.

The designer plans the form and the workings of something before it’s made or built. In the case of the WordPress designer they are working with an already built product. The language of computer software design takes its style form with HTML and CSS, using the code to produce aesthetic effects. The designer brings out a style that overlays the WordPress core software.

The designer is more than a visual artist. They have the challenge to present the visual structure of the framework of the website. Their vision has to reach into the architect of the layout of the website as well as into the user’s perspective.  A word here about designers and developers. If they never talk to each other then they are polarized by their ego. When there is a good design team, they have developers and designers working together.

The designer knows code and works with CSS, cascading style sheets. The CSS code when placed into the Theme will create a specific effect or style that was not there before. That sounds obvious, but it’s worth repeating it to understand how it works. The website for the user is built by a team of designers and developers. When the Theme is well built it’s usually the result of a dedicated team.

Less Is More

The challenge of design is the production of aesthetic elements to bring out the idea of the purpose of the website. Designers create and style Themes. For a designer the challenge is to achieve a refined, less is more appeal, to showcase the content within the site. The designer achieves the balance between the aesthetics and the content so as not to overpower the content within the site.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. There is temptation to put more information on a page thinking it’s convenient for the visitor. The web page becomes cluttered and the user is distracted with too many options.

The User

This is the all important person who uses the combination of the work of the developer and the designer. Which is the best Theme? There isn’t one. It’s what appeals to you when you look at the Theme. You’re the judge and the jury on this one. If you want an opinion, you’re going to get a biased opinion from the person who created the Theme or from someone who uses the Theme.

At some point you are going to use the site and operate it. This is practical experience and doesn’t cost you anything except time. If someone does it for you; you don’t learn the basics and you’ll always be at the mercy of the designer or developer.

The results of using WordPress:

  • You’ll be a unique individual who will know how WordPress works
  • Capable of using your website to your advantage
  • Operate the site and add to it as you go along

User Beware

Here comes the fun part. Tread carefully. There are many people who are going to try to take advantage of you at this stage. Yes, it’s true. This is human nature. What you have to look for is clarity, a reputable company, or individual, with a team of developers and designers who produce a quality product that has you in mind, not them.

Let me use myself as an example. I am not a developer, or a designer, I am a user. I know about using WordPress Themes because I’ve used WordPress since 2006 and have used several Themes. I use a ready made theme from a reputable theme company that offers me tech support if I need it. I don’t re-do the Theme or change anything. The most I would do is copy and paste some CSS code into a module to create a specific effect, because I learned how to do it through watching a video from the technical support video library.

A developer can design a whole website. They structure the entire site in their own way. They might use the WordPress core software or not. If you want an entirely customized theme you could ask a developer to make you one. This depends on what your website is for. Everyone’s need is different.

Before you decide to go with a particular designer or developer, ask as many questions as you like and make sure you’ve seen their work. There has to be a visible skill level that satisfies you.

A designer or developer that doesn’t like questions from the client, is wasting your time. If you’re intimidated by a developer or a designer because you’re an unfortunate client and don’t know anything, walk away from that kind of person.

Be wary of the easy to use and setup in three minutes. I can tell you from experience it did not take me three minutes to set up my website. Nothing does. That is just to make you feel like there isn’t any work you have to do so you’ll fall for the easy to do.

When you go looking for a theme make sure the company is a reputable one.

Look for these things:

How regularly are their themes updated?

Do you have to pay to upgrade the theme?

Is the theme compatible with WordPress core updates?

If you run into problems is there sufficient tech support available to you?

Is there enough documentation about how to operate the theme?

When you are going to use the software you want to be sure you’re in charge of what you are going to use. At first it might seem intimidating because you’re bound to meetup with someone who says they can take care of all your website needs. If you go through the steps to find out, you’ll make the right decisions the first time and not have the “migration headache.”

The “migration headache” starts when you want to use another theme and the existing theme conflicts with the new theme overlay. Switching themes is never a good idea.

Themes are alterations or extensions and they use code to create particular effects. One effect might not be in use in another Theme. There’s no good switching mechanism not even a plugin. The plugin will have competing code.

Another “migration headache,” moving from one hosting server to another. Not all hosts have the same configurations in their back panels. Code is proprietary to one platform and isn’t compatible with another platform. That’s the way technology works.

There are people behind everything we do. Now that you have met the people behind WordPress, including the user, you have the knowledge you need to make the right choices for your website.

If you’re still not sure what to do and want to talk to a WordPress user, contact me.