Three Things You Need Before Making Changes to Your CSS

One of the first things I’ve needed to learn to get good at WordPress development is how I can make some custom changes to my CSS. While I’ve been tempted to do this from the appearance editor on the WordPress admin area, I’ve heard from a few sources that this is a pretty bad idea. So, I decided to do things properly and make a child theme. However, before making a child theme, there are three things I’ll need first:

1. File Structure

Creating a local file structure will allow you to edit style.css and other theme files locally before those changes are pushed to a live site.  This one really is as easy as it seems! I created a folder named sites on your computer, you’ll need to create one too. The file structure I use within it is:

sites > name of your site (i.e. wpshout) > wp-content 


(click to enlarge)


2. Text Editor

As I’m sure you’ve already guessed by the name, your text editor is the place where you’ll be editing your CSS. CSS is just a structured text format. You’ll use your text editor to open up and change the files that are saved in your local file structure. Text editors are programs specifically created for editing code and often include customizable features designed to make this task easier — things like syntax highlighting, error notification, powerful multi-replace function, etc. Which text editor you pick is a matter of personal preference, but some that are frequently used include Sublime TextNotepad++, and (my favorite) Coda.

3. FTP Client

If you don’t know already, FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. An FTP Client is the software program you’ll use to transfer the files you’ve been editing locally to your host. It acts as a bridge between your local files and the files saved in your host’s server. Popular FTP clients include FileZilla and Cyberduck. It’s also possible to choose software that is both a text editor and an FTP client, which can make the process of making small updates feel much more streamlined.

To set up your FTP client, you’ll be prompted for specific information about the server you’re connecting to. Details about where you can find this information vary quite a bit; generally find it by logging into your hosting account or contacting your host’s support line.


Once you have these three things set up, you’ll be ready to set up a child theme and start making customizations to your CSS!

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