Enhancing your WordPress website’s performance and security
Enhancing your WordPress website’s performance and security
With each new WordPress release, they ensure you stay up to date with new industry standards

WordPress is one of the most popular website CMS platforms for dental websites.

WordPress regularly releases new updates. With each new release, they fix bugs, add new features, improve performance, and enhance existing features to stay up to date with new industry standards. So in other words, when you do not update your WordPress site, you are risking the security of your dental website as well as missing out on new features and improvements.

In December there was big update which included the programming languages that WordPress is built upon which are not updated anywhere near as frequently.

What the update means

  • Better browser compatibility
  • Slightly faster loading
  • Makes life easier for WordPress developers
  • If part of your website relies on an older version of jQuery, and you update to the latest version of WordPress your website will not function properly
  • If you decide not to update your WordPress site you will be more vulnerable to attack

The big update

WordPress is built with several coding languages and one of those languages is JavaScript. In the early years of JavaScript, it would take a developer many lines of code to accomplish common tasks. This is where jQuery comes in. jQuery is what is known as a JavaScript library. It takes those common tasks that require many lines of JavaScript code, and wraps them into methods that you can call with a single line of code. WordPress currently comes with jQuery 1.12.4, a version of jQuery that was last updated in 2016, and it’s moving to jQuery 3.5.1. The changes will start with version 5.5 of WordPress, which was released in August, and will be a staggered process until version 5.7, which will be released in March 2021.

Why hasn’t the update happened sooner?

The reason WordPress hasn’t updated the version of jQuery they utilise is likely because it’s going to take a bit of work for third party developers to update their themes and plugins to use the latest version of jQuery.

Every well written theme or plugin should work seamlessly with other themes and plugins. This is achieved by following the guidelines set out by WordPress on how to build a theme or plugin. As you can imagine, trying to get tens of thousands of plugins to update by a certain time is a bit of a mammoth task. There are also thousands of themes and plugins still being used that aren’t frequently updated and haven’t been updated in years that will stop will functioning properly once the change is enforced. If you use any custom-made themes or plugins it is important that you spend the time to check their compatibility with the latest version of jQuery using the handy “Test jQuery Updates” plugin created by the WordPress team.

For this reason, it can be useful to use popular themes and plugins that have good reviews and are frequently updated as they are likely to have already re-written their code or are at least prepared for their product to work with the updates.

This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last

In 2018 something similar happened with another language that WordPress is built on called PHP. It was slightly different though because they just stopped supporting an older insecure version of PHP, forcing developers to upgrade any themes or plugins that were not functioning properly with newer versions of PHP. A similar situation is likely to happen again. There is already talk from WordPress developers about potentially removing jQuery entirely at some point as JavaScript is now much easier to use without the need for a library.

Do I need to change my dental practice website?

With these changes, you may want to contact your dental marketing agency to ensure your website is up to date and compatible with the latest WordPress update, this will enhance performance and security, as well as saving you development work in the long term.

If your dental website is on a Hive website maintenance plan, updates are automatically taken care of for you. If you do not have a maintenance plan in place ask your dental website provider to update your site. Please get in touch if you would like to find out more about our WordPress site maintenance and hosting plans.

Jack Uterhark
By Jack Uterhark Web Designer
If you have any questions or comments about this article, please get in touch.
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