Understanding child themes is the first step in taking WordPress theme development to the next level, or at least bringing it up to a wider scale. You don't have to use child themes, obviously, but as a designer and developer it is a great concept to play with. After all, just the fact that you can put all your core functionality in one theme, everything you usually put into themes anyway, and then lean on that one theme by using a child theme that builds on it, certainly is food for thought.
Whether or not you want to use child themes in your projects is a matter of personal preference. I'm a firm believer in saving time and making updating easier, so I think child themes are a great idea in most cases, albeit not all. For example, a very traffic-heavy blog would want to cut down on everything that adds bandwidth, and in such a case you should consider as tight a theme as possible. Every project has its own requirements that you need to take into account.
And with that we'll move on to more advanced things that you can do with themes to make them even cooler and more adaptive to the goals you set.
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