3 Critical Website Updates You Should Be Doing Right Now

If you value your website, and your business, you should implement a system of regular website maintenance to ensure your website runs smoothly.

Before you make any changes to your website you should ensure that you have a complete back-up of your website so that you will be able to restore your website in the event that you encounter any difficulties while installing, deleting, updating or optimising your site.

Whilst there are many tasks you need to perform to conduct optimal website maintenanceWe share with you the critical updates you should be performing on your site.  So go ahead, pop your site on maintenance mode and head over and review your site right now.

Updating WordPress

WordPress is open source which means that anyone can use and change the source code.  Every user can use WordPress for free without purchasing a licence.  What this also means is that WordPress websites can be a target for hackers.  As WordPress has million of users, a security hole has the potential to affect many websites.  For this reason WordPress releases periodic updates to address any security flaws.

Before updating the core files, it is a good idea to run a back-up of your website ensuring you back up a complete copy of your site.

When there is an update available for WordPress you will see a message on your dashboard advising that the new WordPress version is available and asking you to update.  Updating is simple with one-click update available where WordPress will download the latest version, deactivate plugins, replace necessary files and re-activate your plugins.

WordPress updates should be performed as soon as possible as you won’t be protected unless and until the update is installed.  This is why WordPress allows automatic updates for minor versions.  You will still have to perform major version updates.

Theme Updates

Your website theme is maintained by the developer.  You may not necessarily be prompted on your dashboard when an update is available, in the same way when there is a core update available for your WordPress files, or a version update for your plugins.  You will need to check with your theme developer if there is a system whereby you can subscribe to be advised of theme updates.  The developer can also advise the recommended method to update your theme.

if you have purchased a theme via Themeforest, for example, you can install the Envato Toolkit plugin to update themes via your Dashboard.

Check your Dashboard for themes installed on your website.  You should only have the theme you are currently using, and the default WordPress theme.  The default WordPress theme is typically used when upgrading your theme, or if you run into trouble with your existing theme.  Any unwanted themes should be deleted or you will need to also keep those additional themes up to date to keep your website secure.

If you need to update your theme manually, typically you would begin by downloading the new version.  If you are currently using the theme you want to update you would deactivate the theme by activating an alternative theme (eg the default WordPress theme).  You would then upload the updated theme thereby replacing the old files and when complete, reactivate the theme.

It is important to note that if you have made customisations to your website that you should have a child theme installed so that you do not lose your customisations when the old files are replaced when upgrading your theme.

Updating Plugins

A plugin is a software add-on installed to extend the functionality of your website much like installing an app on your phone or install a program on your computer.

The WordPress dashboard has an updates section which automatically checks for updates and notifies you when an update is available.  Updates are simple with one-click update available.  Before updating we recommend that you wait at least a week to update, unless the version is a security update which we recommend you install straight away.  By allowing a week or so, you allow the developers some time to address and fix any bugs.

As part of your maintenance program you should review the plugins installed o your website and deactivate any plugins that you aren’t using.  These plugins are taking up space on your website, and should be deleted.

It is not uncommon to run into problems when updating plugins.  Some plugins don’t always play well with others and you may experience a plugin conflict.  To fix a plugin conflict you can deactivate all the plugins and, if a plugin is causing the problem, the issue should resolve.  You can then activate each plugin one by one until the error occurs in an effort to isolate and identify the plugin which is throwing up the problem.  Once you have identified the (culprit) problem plugin, you will need to decide what further action to take which may include sourcing an alternative plugin.

Scared you’re going to break your website?  Don’t know what to do or simply, dont have the time?  If you would rather outsource your website maintenance so that you can focus on other income producing activities, Virtually Cherrie Tippett can assist you with website maintenance packages that will suit your needs and bring you peace of mind.

If you have a website, you should have a website maintenance strategy in place to ensure that your website runs optimally.  You work so hard to create traffic to your website.  You dont want to lose your leads and potential customers due to something avoidable like a broken website.  Your website is an investment so you need to make sure you invest your time and effort in keeping it up to date and secure.

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