You have just invested in a brand-new website – so now you can just sit back and let it do its thing, right? Unfortunately not.
Don’t get caught out
A website is a bit like a car, it is important to keep a car maintained and road worthy fixing any known faults or potential underlying issues with regular servicing. If you don’t regularly service your car you run the risk of an expensive bill further down the line.
Just like cars, websites aren’t cheap so it’s important to protect your investment by staying on top of the maintenance.
Plugins are essentially applications that allow you to add new features and functionality to your WordPress website,similar to the way apps do for your smartphone.
App developers keep improving their plugins by adding new features, improving code quality, and keeping them secure so you should regularly keep your plugins on your site up to date to ensure that those changes are applied on your site. Doing this improves the security and performance of your website
Sometimes plugins aren’t updated for a few years – maybe because they’ve lost their popularity or simply because the developer has lost interest in supporting it. However, WordPress updates itself so at some point the plugin that hasn’t been updated for a few years isn’t going to be compatible with the newest version of WordPress. This will usually result in the functionality that the app is meant to be providing not working anymore. For example, this could mean that features on your site, like a slideshow on your homepage, or your contact forms will stop working. Updating apps and replacing unsupported apps will always keep your site functioning efficiently.
WordPress is the most popular CMS in use today, with over 60% of all CMS built websites using the platform. As a result, it attracts attention from individuals trying to exploit any vulnerabilities they can find. So the main reason to keep WordPress updated is for security.
Sometimes security vulnerabilities are corrected with new WordPress releases. Updating to the newest version of WordPress will ensure that you have the latest security fix. Not updating your version of WordPress may leave your site open to hackers.
The developers of WordPress regularly spot these vulnerabilities and send repairs, otherwise known as bug fixes or patches (these are similar to those updates you receive for your computer operating system). It is crucial to update your website as soon as an update is made available to keep security levels high.
In amongst the small incremental updates that are released to fix bugs WordPress also release large feature updates. The latest large feature update improved page load speeds, which not only improved the users experience but potentially will improve Google search ranking. Previous large feature updates have included the introduction of a new page builder, allowing WordPress users to create media rich pages and posts. This means that WordPress developers no longer need to rely on as many plugins to achieve the same result.
Things to consider: Auto updates
There is the possibility to automate updates, which does seem tempting but it’s not ideal. There is a process to manually updating a WordPress website involving taking a back-up of the site in its working state before updating WordPress, the theme or a plugin. Then the website needs to be tested on multiple devices to make sure it is functioning as it should.
Problems can arise from plugins no longer being supported or plugins no longer being compatible and if a problem arises then the website needs to be reverted to the backup quickly whilst the issue is investigated. Automated updates will update a plugin and if it doesn’t work it will turn off the plugin and email the website administrator. This could potentially affect user experience or break the site if no one is overseeing the health of the site.
If you have any questions about the health and functionality of your dental website, or would like to know about our hosting and maintenance packages please get in contact.