How Does your Theme Work with the WordPress Core?
When you first install a theme, you don’t know how it works. You don’t know what all it can do or how to make it do what it can do. For example, a student changed from Twenty Fourteen to a different theme because there was no easy way to change the background color. That means that the theme writer either didn’t write a function to change the background color, or the theme writer didn’t make it easy to find that function.
For a WordPress site to work, it has to have a theme. The WordPress core provides functionality, not layout. But, all WordPress installs also come with themes written by the folks at WordPress. The reason other people write themes is because they want something different than WordPress out-of-the-box. That means that the theme has to change the way the WordPress default install works. But that doesn’t mean that you change the files that come with the WordPress install. WordPress has provided a system to make those changes called Child Themes. But, child themes have a learning curve, so many themes try to make it easy. In fact, the theme fights the core for you so you can fight the theme!
Here is an example. The Kahuna theme comes with some very nice boxes under the main banner image. At least the version on the theme page shows that it does, but when you first set it up, those boxed just don’t work. That is because, it’s up against the WordPress core.
The WordPress core was originally designed to show the most recent posts because it’s blogging software at the core. But, the WordPress core allows you to choose instead to have a “static” page, which is just a regular page, for the home page instead of a list of your most recent posts. The Kahuna theme starts with that same WordPress core function. The problem is that you don’t know why it’s different from the photos, it just is.
Now, you have to fight Kahuna to get it to look like it’s advertised. If you go to Appearance -> Customize -> Landing Page -> Settings and enable the Landing Page, it seems like it should do the trick … but it doesn’t. Well, you do have to do that, but it’s not enough. You also have to go to Home Page and choose a Static page.