Websites are living digital creatures and maintenance is a crucial part of their lifecycles. The WordPress CMS continues to improve their platform experience for all users by regularly releasing updated versions that improve themes, plugins, functionalities and fix security patches.
Maintenance work can be overwhelming and often neglected when you are busy with updating your content and the design of your site. In this blog we discuss the benefits and importance of maintenance, and how to incorporate it into your workflow.
Benefits of updating WordPress
The major reason you would want to consider updating your WordPress version regularly is for security. Given it’s such a popular Content Management System it is prone to hacking. Your website can remain vulnerable and unstable if you don’t keep it up to date with releases.
The version updates also address bug fixes, speed optimisation, better compatibility with all plugins and any new features / enhancements to stay up-to-date with the industry standards. If you have an e-commerce website it is imperative to update your website as you would be capturing the payment details of your customers.
Below is a list of WordPress version releases in the past year. There has been a new release almost every month, including security and maintenance patches.
September 19, 2017 WordPress 4.8.2 Security and Maintenance Release
August 2, 2017 WordPress 4.8.1 Maintenance Release
June 8, 2017 WordPress 4.8 “Evans”
May 16, 2017 WordPress 4.7.5 Security and Maintenance Release
April 20, 2017 WordPress 4.7.4 Maintenance Release
March 6, 2017 WordPress 4.7.3 Security and Maintenance Release
January 26, 2017 WordPress 4.7.2 Security Release
January 11, 2017 WordPress 4.7.1 Security and Maintenance Release
December 6, 2016 WordPress 4.7 “Vaughan”
September 7, 2016 WordPress 4.6.1 Security and Maintenance Release
August 16, 2016 WordPress 4.6 “Pepper”
Updated versions also occur for popular premium themes and plugins such as WooCommerce. Other plugin updates are less frequent; once to a few times per year on average.
What if I don’t update WordPress?
Websites can continue to operate on old WordPress versions and you might not notice any significant inconvenience by skipping one or two version updates for a plugin. However, updates can accumulate quickly and eventually a critical point is reached when it becomes more apparent and exposed, and you can no longer work to make big changes to your site. In some cases newer versions of plugins will not integrate with older WordPress versions and you may begin to experience bugs on your website.
If you are experiencing minor issues on your WordPress site, it is recommended to first update everything before tackling specific issues in case it is caused by outdated versions. If not, at least you eliminated one possibility so it’s easier for a support team like us to identify the cause.
How is WordPress updated?
WordPress will connect to the filesystem of your server based on the file ownership of your WordPress files. It will then replace the older files with updated versions.
The impact of the WordPress new version will depend on how your website is structured, so it is always important to have a backup of the current site, and a developer on hand to troubleshoot any issues that may occur.
How much time do I need?
We suggest a monthly maintenance block of about 3-4 hours for smaller websites and a little more for e-commerce, heavily customised sites. Hours are cumulative, meaning you may need more time if you skip one or two months.
We recommend installing a notification plugin (link wordpress.org/plugins/wp-updates-notifier) to keep track of what’s due for an update and get a better idea of how often you may need to give your website the attention it deserves.
At Matter Design we preach best practice – Regular maintenance of your website and deletion/deactivation of redundant plugins for optimal website performance. Find out more about the website support and maintenance services we offer here.