The Importance of Updating and Maintaining Your WordPress Website

So, you’ve got a shiny new website, now what?

You’ve poured hours into crafting the perfect website — by yourself or with a web designer. You’ve meticulously curated content, tweaked designs, and optimized for user experience. It’s perfect — for now. But as we all know, the digital landscape evolves rapidly. Vulnerabilities emerge. New software is released. Hackers lurk in the shadows, ready to exploit outdated plugins or themes, potentially compromising your hard work and reputation.

The Power of Updates

In the ever-evolving digital realm, the importance of keeping your WordPress website updated and maintained cannot be overstated. These updates not only introduce new features and enhancements but also shore up security vulnerabilities and patch loopholes. By staying current with updates, you not only fortify your website against cyber threats but also ensure compatibility with the latest web standards, improving performance and user experience.

Keeping your website up-to-date, has a number of benefits:

  • Security: Updates often include patches for known vulnerabilities, safeguarding your website against potential cyber threats and attacks.
  • Stability: Updated versions of WordPress, plugins, and themes typically come with bug fixes and performance enhancements, ensuring a smoother and more reliable user experience.
  • Compatibility: Regular updates ensure that your website remains compatible with the latest web standards, browsers, and technologies, preventing compatibility issues that could arise with outdated components.
  • Features: Updates often introduce new features, functionalities, and improvements, allowing you to leverage the latest tools and capabilities to enhance your website’s functionality and user engagement.
  • SEO: Search engines prioritize websites that are updated regularly and adhere to current best practices, potentially boosting your site’s visibility and ranking in search results.
  • Reputation: A well-maintained website reflects positively on your professionalism and credibility, instilling trust in visitors and stakeholders who rely on your online presence for information or transactions.
  • Legal Compliance: Updates may include compliance with new regulations or standards, helping you avoid legal issues related to data protection, accessibility, and other aspects of online governance.
  • Performance: Outdated components can slow down your website’s loading speed and responsiveness. Regular updates optimize performance, ensuring swift access to content and a seamless user experience.

How to Update Your WordPress Website

When it comes to maintaining your WordPress website, you have two options:

  1. DIY it.
  2. Purchase a website maintenance plan and let a developer do the heavy lifting for you.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Updating Your WordPress Site

Keeping your WordPress website updated and maintained isn’t difficult, but it does take time to learn what to do, how to do it, and to set aside time each month to do it. If you have the time and are willing to roll up your sleeves, it can save you hundreds of dollars a year. Plus, DIY web maintenance comes with a side of accomplishment…and isn’t that just the best feeling.

So, let’s delve into the nitty-gritty of backing up and updating your WordPress website:

Step 1: Backing Up Your Website

Before jumping into any updates, it’s important to create a backup of your website. This serves as a safety net, allowing you to revert to a previous state in case anything goes awry during the update process. I have a full blog post dedicated to installing and configuring a backup solution, but here are the basic steps:

  1. Choose a Backup Solution: WordPress offers several plugins for website backups, such as UpdraftPlus, BackupBuddy, or Jetpack. Install and activate your preferred plugin from the WordPress dashboard. Alternatively, your web host may offer regular or on-demand backups. If this is the case, you can skip to step 3!
  2. Configure Backup Settings: Navigate to the plugin settings and configure backup frequency, storage destination (cloud storage, FTP, etc.), and retention policies according to your preferences.
  3. Initiate Backup: Once configured, initiate a full backup of your website. Depending on the size of your site, this process may take some time.
  4. Verify Backup: After the backup is complete, verify its integrity by downloading and storing it in a secure location outside your hosting environment.

Step 2: Updating WordPress Core, Plugins, and Themes

With a reliable backup in hand, you’re now ready to proceed with updating your WordPress website components.

  1. Update WordPress Core: From the WordPress dashboard, navigate to the Updates section. If a new version of WordPress is available, you’ll see a notification prompting you to update. Click on “Update Now” to initiate the process.
  2. Update Plugins: Similarly, head to the Plugins section and check for available updates. Select all plugins with pending updates and click “Update Plugins” to install the latest versions.
  3. Update Themes: Navigate to the Themes section and check for updates. If updates are available for your active theme or any installed themes, proceed to update them accordingly.
  4. Verify Compatibility: After updating, visit your website to ensure all functionalities are intact and there are no compatibility issues between the updated components.

Step 3: Regular Maintenance and Monitoring

Updating your WordPress website is not a one-and-done task. To maintain peak performance and security, make it a habit to:

  • Regularly back up your website, ideally before performing any significant updates or changes.
  • Monitor for security vulnerabilities and apply patches promptly.
  • Keep plugins and themes up to date to benefit from the latest features and fixes.
  • Conduct periodic audits to remove outdated or unused plugins and themes, reducing the attack surface and streamlining performance.

Rather Not Get Your Hands Dirty? Hire It Out!

No shame in that! You have a business to run, and your time and attention are better spent focusing on that — not on regular website maintenance. Hiring a web developer offers:

  • Time Savings: Managing a WordPress website requires ongoing attention and regular maintenance tasks, which can be time-consuming for busy website owners. Outsourcing maintenance to a web developer frees up valuable time that can be better spent on core business activities, content creation, or strategic initiatives.
  • Troubleshooting and Support: Bugs happen, and sometimes WordPress updates don’t go as planned. In the event of technical issues, downtime, or errors on your website, a web developer can provide prompt troubleshooting and support to resolve issues efficiently.
  • Peace of Mind: Outsourcing WordPress maintenance to a reputable web developer provides peace of mind, knowing that your website is in capable hands. You can trust that your site is secure, well-maintained, and performing at its best, allowing you to focus on your business goals with confidence.

For those who would rather pass off the technical tasks to a professional, Amanda Schoedel Creative offers WordPress Care Plans, which cover all of the tasks listed in the DIY method above and more.

All care plans include:

  • Daily Backups: Daily cloud site backups allow you to rest easy knowing your site is protected in case of an emergency.
  • Monthly Updates: Regular updates to the WordPress core, all installed plugins, and themes ensure that your website stays bug-free and up-to-date with security patches.
  • Security Monitoring: Added security software and 24/7 monitoring to protect against hackers, viruses, and malware.
  • Uptime Monitoring: We’ll have eyes on your site, even when you don’t. We’re notified immediately if your site goes down so we can restore it asap.
  • Database Cleanup: Monthly purge of site revisions, spam comments, and unneeded tables to keep your site lean and efficient.
  • Performance Testing: Ensure your site is always running as quickly as possible with a monthly speed test and optimization adjustments as needed.
  • Backup Site Restore: Reinstate your website to its most recent backup copy free of charge in the unlikely event that it is hacked or otherwise compromised.
  • Monthly Site Report: A detailed overview of all backups, updates, website traffic, speed tests, and security scans performed on your website.

The best part? Website care plan services are provided month-to-month, so there’s no contract or long-term commitment. Try it out, see if it’s a good fit for you and your business. More often than not, the website owners I work with love the freedom a peace-of-mind a care plan gives them.

Ready to try it out for yourself?

Click here to learn more about care plans.