With so many websites built using WordPress nowadays, the need to technically maintain and update them often gets overlooked, however, to ensure your website is secure and not vulnerable to hackers or any unexpected issues, it is necessary to always keep your website updated. In this blog guide, we look at all the things that need to be technically maintained on a regular basis.
Keep versions of WordPress updated
WordPress is the worlds most popular tool for creating websites. The CMS (or ‘Content Management System’) makes it easy for you to maintain your own website and is an extremely powerful CMS for website designers like us to build websites on.
Because WordPress is a CMS, it does need regular security and version updates. With some updates there is a more urgent need to update, especially if the update itself relates to security improvements/enhancements, but before running any WordPress updates, it is important to check that the latest version will be compatible with any theme or plugins that may be used on your website. Usually, a website design company offers a monthly technical maintenance service that means you can leave the job of technically updating your website to them.
With any update, your website should be backed up first and then all updates completed. By taking a backup it means the website can be restored if something doesn’t quite work as it should, and given the nature of some updates and things not working quite as they should, the need to restore a website can arise more often than not, so taking a backup of your website is essential before doing anything.
Is your website built using a theme? If so, that needs updating too
Whilst WordPress can be used for custom design and development for websites that are more complex in nature, an alternative and popular option for more simplistic websites and e-commerce stores is to use a WordPress theme as they are more cost effective and offer a lot of bang for your buck, so to speak.
However, with any WordPress theme used, whether it’s the default WordPress theme that comes with WordPress itself, or perhaps a paid-for premium theme, the theme creator/developer must ensure it is kept up-to-date and therefore a theme might be updated frequently. A theme must also be compatible with the latest versions of WordPress too (as well as any plugins used – see below), so it is also necessary to take a backup of your website before the theme gets updated, so you can restore your website if things go wrong.
Any plugins used need updating as well
Most, if not all WordPress websites use plugins. A plugin is a piece of software that provides a function on your website. This could be a contact form, a photo gallery or image slideshow or anything else in-between. Plugins serve the purpose to extend the functionality ability of your WordPress website.
It is important that you keep all plugins updated otherwise your website could become vulnerable to hacking attempts or it might start behaving in unexpected ways, such as pages or elements within a page not loading correctly; so it is essential to keep an eye on plugins and when they become outdated and to ensure they are updated promptly.
We get a bit more technical now and whilst this isn’t something you need to worry about too much as your hosting will already be compatible with WordPress and will have all the necessary software running on the server to power your website, if you do self-host your own website, it is important that you make sure PHP and MYSQL versions are kept up-to-date, to ensure your website operates correctly, and for security purposes too.
If you use a company such as us to keep your website technically up to date, it is worth the low monthly expense for your own peace of mind, safe in the knowledge that your website will continue to run smoothly and is safe, secure and protected from any vulnerabilities – it almost acts as a kind of insurance policy against any problems and to ensure your website is maintained technically. Other precautionary measures are also included within the monthly cost, such as routine monthly website security scans to confirm the website is secure and there are no vulnerabilities as well as pro-active monitoring too, so well worth considering!
If on the other hand you feel confident with updating your website yourself, make sure you back-up your website first, and always remember to keep things up to date by checking for anything that is in need of an update regularly.