So now you’re up and running. Here comes the part where it starts to get interesting. For me, I like to know what the code is actually doing. I don’t want to include code that I don’t need for a couple of reasons: 1) It’s code I don’t need (and that means code that the browser doesn’t need); and 2) If I need to come back and make changes months down the line, it makes it confusing. With the WordPress/ComicPress combination, I don’t know what all the extra code is doing exactly.
For example, there are a lot of ways to change things up, but I wanted to do something simple like take out the down arrow that appears after a menubar item when there are submenu items. I went through the code line-by-line for a couple of days and found that it was just a jumble and the arrow would just not go away. I’m used to coding my own stuff and I try to keep that pretty organized so that I can keep track of it all. The other thing that I’ve found is that I name the parts consistent things in all my sites (so header, navigation, etc.). Since ComicPress has been built by someone else, the naming conventions are slightly different. My assumption is that the menubar is the “menubar at the top” based on looking at the code that’s generated for a page, but maybe I’m way off. In the end, I spent three days trying to make a “simple” edit. Compare that to the half hour that it took me to code my own menubar without the arrow and add it to the website… you can see where I start to get cautious about making the recommendation to edit your site.
How to customize your site – child themes
Let’s start small with child themes. Puns aside, here’s how to do it: the first thing that I did was to create what is called a “child theme.” To do this, create a new folder in your themes folder on your server. Title it whatever you want to call your theme. Then create a new style sheet with the following copy at the start of the document:
This basically tells WordPress that there’s a new theme and it’s based on an existing theme. So for the above example, I created a new theme called On the Verge (A) and it’s based on the existing comicpress theme (B). Now save this style sheet and put it in the folder that you created on your server. WordPress should now recognize your new theme.
So why create a child theme at all? Basically it’s all about insuring that you don’t lose all your hard work. If you directly alter the existing comicpress theme and then update it in the future, you run the risk of losing your alterations. By using a child theme, any edits are to the child theme and get applied to the existing theme. Updates to the existing theme have no effect on the child theme.
Confused yet? I know I was. But trust me, child themes are the way to go.