This year (2016) I gave a talk at WordCamp San Diego as part of the Beginners’ Bootcamp, entitled “Customizing Without Hacking”. It was an introduction to best practices for customizing WordPress without doing anything that will break your site or make it a nightmare to maintain. Learning from the beginning how to customize the right way will make your future-self’s life much easier: Your changes will be future-proofed to keep each layer of your site update-able: WordPress core, themes, plugins. Using WordPress best practices means that if you are building the site for someone else to maintain, or if you will have someone else helping you in the future, they won’t have be Sherlock Holmes to figure out how the site works. You’ll have confidence and peace of mind when experimenting with your site, knowing that you’re not going to break something beyond your own ability to repair. Creating a child theme is a common piece of advice for customizations. Sometimes a child theme is necessary and sometimes it can be overkill. If you need to modify PHP template files, you will definitely need a child theme. But if you are just modifying CSS, or your functions.php
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