I am trying to move my site to WP using a child theme based on twenty sixteen (this is the first time I am dealing with WP).

Considering my site html and css, is it possible to incorporate html structure and css from my site into child theme and get rid of all ids and selectors which are not used? If so, what would be the first step in this process? Say should I start with tweaking header.php and footer.php considering my markup etc.? What I am trying to achieve is to move all pages of my site to WP and also add a blog page.

I've read quite a few similar topics on this site including how to tweak wp_nav_menu, Codex article on how to create and modify a child theme, Walker class etc. I also read this article How To Create And Customize A WordPress Child Theme however, was unable to get a clear understanding if what I am trying to achieve (please refer to my question above) is possible. I did however gain some general understanding in terms of what is a child theme, how templates work, what is template tags etc.

1 Answer 1


Yes, you can technically use your own HTML structure and get rid of all the IDs and selectors you don't like. However, this is not how you build child themes. Child themes are meant to keep most of the underlying HTML structure of a theme - you can tweak it in some places, but if you're completely overriding the parent theme, there's no benefit at all in making a child theme and you should instead build a custom from-scratch theme.

You may wish to look for themes built specifically for extension, such as Underscores, where they include minimal markup and are basically blank canvases for you to style and tweak. Usually, you actually copy the code into a new custom theme rather than child-theming with this approach.

However, depending on your needs and coding expertise, you may realize more benefits from finding a parent theme that meets most of your needs and tweaking it in a child theme. "IDs and selectors you don't like" typically don't carry much bloat/weight in the scheme of things and it's usually fairly easy to style as desired. It's often more important to ensure the theme you select meets your needs as far as functionality and semantics - for example, does the theme use semantic HTML5 that will be accessible to all your users? Some extra IDs and classes are trivial compared to making sure the tags themselves are what you need for your purposes.

  • Thanks for the very explanatory answer @WebElaine. I think I am going to try looking into Underscores because in order for me to tweak a child theme so that it completely matches my current site I would have to literally tweak every page of a child theme. I did try finding a theme on wordpress.org to match my site but every portfolio theme is different and I wasn't able to find the one close my design.Please correct me if I am wrong but I think a child theme scenario is more appropriate when you are building a site for a small business e.g. restaurant, shop etc. so you can make minor changes
    – 810311
    Jul 31, 2019 at 1:54
  • Child themes work well when you're tweaking a couple templates' HTML, or primarily CSS. The benefit is you don't have to maintain much code - the parent theme will continually update incl. security updates if it's supported well. Custom themes work better if you're trying to achieve a very specific markup and style, but you take on all the responsibility for support and updating. For a case like yours where you're trying to migrate but not fully familiar with WP yet, I would suggest starting with a child theme to see how close you can get, and be ok with the site looking a little different.
    – WebElaine
    Jul 31, 2019 at 20:25
  • I understand. Your suggestion makes sense since I am not familiar with WP. I read about security updates too. Can you take a look at my original html structure and css and suggest the first step for me to start tweaking the child theme? Thanks again @WebElaine.
    – 810311
    Aug 1, 2019 at 2:32
  • Hey, here's an article on how to move from HTML to WordPress that might be helpful for your case: websitesetup.org/html-to-wordpress It lists different ways to make the transition. Using a child theme is just one of them.
    – WSU
    Aug 1, 2019 at 7:39

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