Updating Your WordPress Site and Why It’s Important

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You may ask yourself “My site’s running fine now, why should I update it?” Well, WordPress is the most-used open source content management system (CMS) worldwide. With any technology that makes up the majority of the market, it draws attention of malicious software and hackers. Because of this, we strongly recommend hosting your site on a WordPress specific hosting solution and regularly updating your WordPress site.

Benefits of Regular Updates

WordPress, theme and plugin authors consistently release updates. They do this to stay up to date with the latest security, performance and accessibility standards. As a result, these updates give you access to the latest features of your theme and plugins. If you choose not to update your website, you’ll miss out on these great benefits.  

Ultimately, your website is an investment that needs to be maintained. So, with proper care, it can stay running as well as the day it was built.  

Below are the steps you can take to update your site.  But, if you’re uncomfortable with performing the updates yourself, we offer maintenance packages where we handle this for you!

Steps for updating your WordPress site

  1. Create a backup of your site. If you’re unsure of how to do this, contact your hosting provider and they can help point you in the right direction.
  2. Turn caching or caching related plugins off.  Often times, caching plugins can conflict with updates showing on your site.  If you’re having trouble seeing changes after making edits, chances are it’s an aggressive caching plugin.  
  3. Create a staging site.  This is most likely a feature provided by your host.  
  4. Log into the staging site and perform the following actions:
    1. Review the WordPress version and update if needed
    2. Update theme and plugins
    3. After updating, refresh the staging site and test against the live site to verify everything has updated successfully and your normal functions are working.  The most common aspects we’ve found to break are navigation items (desktop and mobile), slider elements, forms, and editors. We recommend that you test these and other important aspects of your site.
  5. If everything is working as expected, you are good to push the site to live.  
    1. You can have your host push the staging site to live but we’ve found you’ll need to update the references from the staging site after doing so.  You can either run a find and replace to accomplish this or often times your host can help you out.
    2. Or you can complete the same process on your live site now that you’ve confirmed the updates do not break the site.  
  6. After updating the live site, re-enable the caching plugin and test the site again.  If all looks well and is functioning as expected, you’re good to go and your website is up to date.
  7. If you have any issues in this process you can always go back to the backup taken in step #1.

For a more in depth guide to updating your WordPress site, we found this guide very helpful.  

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