8 Important Things To Do When Updating Your WordPress Website

All websites need to be kept up-to-date

I'm not referring to content, I'm referring to technology.

Gone are the days when you could build a website and leave it for a couple of years before a review. It's not the 90's anymore. All technology gets updated; your smart phone, your laptop, even your SatNav. and the web is no exception. The internet is ever evolving, with new software, security updates, browser updates, operating system updates, PHP updates, Javascript updates, W3C and industry standards which are constantly improving. Just think about how many updates Microsoft Windows on a PC has!

Your website needs to keep pace with these changes. We are in a fast-paced evolving environment. If your website is your business driver then you need to make sure your website is performing to its best and working hard to drive traffic and build business.

Your website is like a high performance car and needs regular care for maximum performance.
Your website is just like your car, it needs regular care and updates for maximum performance.

You can't buy a car and expect it to run perfectly indefinitely. It needs to be serviced, kept clean, new parts added. The same applies to your website. As a minimum it needs to be maintained.

WordPress technology

At Arttia Creative we favour WordPress as our Content Management System of choice. Read why here. WordPress is the world's most popular CMS running around 23% of the world's websites. It is powerful, innovative and secure. As with all technology and Content Management Systems, it needs to be kept up-to-date for maximum performance. Many (not all) of the websites we create, use WordPress for their CMS.

Websites built with WordPress benefit from the latest open-source technology, features, cost-effective extendibility, performance enhancements, SEO friendly and web standards. WordPress benefits from a large and ever-growing community of web professionals and consultants. These benefits greatly out-weigh any time it takes to run regular updates.

WordPress and Value.
If you were to commission the development of a bespoke CMS that matched the level of WordPress and the many thousands of extensions and plugins that the WordPress community provides, the level of investment required in both time and budgets would need to be considerable. And you would need a substantial software team to support it.

What are updates?
Updates can include new features, new functionality or general bug fixes and security issue updates.

Recommended WordPress updates

If you are the administrator of your WordPress website and have admin user access it is probably your responsibility to take care of any updates.

With each new release of WordPress core and plugins, they fix bugs, add new features, improve performance, and enhance existing features to stay up to date with new industry standards. To keep your WordPress based website performing to its best and taking advantage of security updates and new features we recommend you keep it updated.

Why so often?
When we first started using WordPress many years ago, updates were few. These days there are updates almost every month, if not every week, so keeping on top to them is an increasingly drawn out process.

When is a good time to run your updates?

Whilst WordPress is updating it automatically puts your website into a 'maintenance mode' so it's worth planning an optimal time to run your updates. Perhaps pick a time when visitors or traffic to your website will be at a minimum. Don't run updates in the middle of a marketing campaign when you are promoting traffic to your website, visitors will see a maintenance message, which doesn't look great.

Arttia Creative - exclusive website support and optimisation provided as standard

We offer exclusive, no contract, monthly website care and optimisation packages to our clients, so they can concentrate on what they do best; running their business. We care about every website we create and include exclusive monthly care plan options with each new website. Designed to not only take care of the regular updates (including continued premium licences) but to provide our clients with performance optimisation, additional digital marketing insight, SEO insight and accountability. We aim to work long-term with our clients, working with them to develop a digital strategy and drive business.

For businesses who don't want to yet take advantage of this at the moment or who wish to DIY the care of their WordPress website, here is our list of:
8 important things to do whenever you are updating your WordPress website. So you can keep you site tip-top.

The process - 8 important steps to follow

Step 1. Backup, check security scans

Before you do anything make sure you take a back up. Backup both the files and the database. There are some plugins to help you do this. Ideally store a backup away from your website hosting, for example in a Dropbox folder or via a remote service.

Also check over any security scans to confirm all is in order.

Plugins available:
Updraft Plus
Backup Buddy
Vault Press
Duplicator
Securi

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
We run daily backups. All sites are backed to a minimum of three locations as a fail-safe for any possible file corruptions, backup errors or loss of data. We also store several backup versions to provide a roll-back facility if required. We backup all data before running any software updates. We also run regular security scans and fix any broken links that have arisen.

Step 2. Deactivate any Caching plugins

Caching plugins help the performance of your website, however they can cause conflicts when running updates, so it's useful to temporarily disable these during any update process.

Plugins available:
WP Fast Cache
WP Rocket
WP Super Cache
Zen Cache

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
Performance Optimisation, we can identify any areas of improvement on your website. We run uptime monitoring so if your website is down on a regular basis, we can alert you and your web hosting, so you know your not missing out any any visitors. Detailed monthly reports, straight to your inbox.

Step 3. Update themes and plugins

WordPress will alert you about updates for plugins and themes. These are flagged on your WordPress dashboard, letting you know when updates are available. First update any plugins, one by one. After each plugin is updated, check your website is working as expected. Follow this process for each plugin.

Next update any Theme you have running. A custom theme may not need regular updates and is taken care of by your web professional. Again, check your site after updating your Theme to make sure all is working as expected.

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
All Plugin updates, including Premium licences*. Most WordPress plugins and themes now require an annual licence, gone are the days of one purchase providing forever support and updates. We use only the very best premium plugins for certain functionality, so these need annual licences to be covered. Our care plans can cover these for you. Detailed monthly reports, straight to your inbox.

Step 4. Update WordPress

WordPress will alert you to any major version updates. Small incremental updates are typically automated and you don't need to action these. A major WordPress update can take a few seconds, so don't worry if it takes time to run. Also note, that with major WordPress updates it can be sometimes prudent to wait a couple of weeks before updating.

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
All WordPress software updates. WordPress core is evolving ever more quickly. With each major update your site need to be checked to make sure all is working as expected. Our care plans cover this and we fix any issues that arise. Detailed monthly reports, straight to your inbox.

Step 5. Reactivate Caching Plugins

Now you can reactive any caching plugins you may have running. Again, test your site at the front end once these are reactivated.

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
We reactivate all performance plugins so your site is working to its optimum. Detailed monthly reports, straight to your inbox.

Step 6. Test the front end

Test your website to check all is working as expected. Check all pages and functionality.

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
We scan and fix any issues that may arise, so you don't have to worry about any technical aspects. Detailed monthly reports, straight to your inbox.

Step 7. Test any forms

Check any forms or 'Optins' are still working as expected, plus any custom functionality that has been created for your website.

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
We provide premium form software* that can create complex forms and data. All forms are optimised and tested each time an update is completed. We test and fix any issues for you as a priority. Detailed monthly reports, straight to your inbox.

Step 8. Run another back up

Now run another back up, ideally to a remote destination.

Arttia Website Care Plans Provide:
We run daily backups so if an issue occurs, you can get back up and running as quickly as possible. All backups are stored in 3 separate locations, so you always have version that works. Detailed monthly reports, straight to your inbox.

Download my WordPress Update Check List

Free step-by-step checklist of all 8 steps shown here.
No email address required. Just click and download.

Download and keep by your desk so you have a ready reference every time you need to update your WordPress website.

Additional things to consider

Most of the time updates run with no problems or issues. On rare occasions, issues can arise. This is where your back-ups are essential. If anything is not working correctly, you can re-install a previous backup which should fix any issues.

If you're running a complex or high traffic website or an eCommerce store we recommend testing theme, plugin and WordPress major updates on a local copy before updating a live website. That way you can check all is working as expected or identify any issues that need attention. If you need guidance on setting up a 'local' version of your website, email us: [email protected] and we are happy to help.

Website Performance

Dedicated WordPress Hosting

Due to the power and popularity of WordPress there are an ever growing number of dedicated or managed WordPress hosting providers. Typically they provide only WordPress hosting focusing on the particular needs of a WordPress website. This type of hosting can have many benefits; hassle free managed hosting, premium technical support, addition security, however these do come at a premium cost. Depending on your business needs these option can be extremely valuable.
A few of the current dedicated WordPress hosting providers:
WPEngine (affiliate link)
• SiteGround
• DreamHost
• Pagely

Exclusive Specialist Website Care

To DIY or not to DIY?
Keeping your website up-to-date, secure, performing well and backed up can be time consuming and somewhat tedious. It takes you away from what you do best, running and building your business. Technology continues to evolve and there is no way you can stay informed of all the trends and developments.

Your hosting
Many hosting packages have an option for backups. They probably back up thousands of websites daily, which is great, however they aren't there to look at the detail of your site. Would they be pro-active in advising you of any issues that arise?

Arttia Creative Exclusive Website Monthly Care and Optimisation - with digital strategy support.

As one of our clients we know your website intimately, together with your business aims and objectives. We care about every website we create and want it to be the business driver you deserve. That's why we have developed a range of website care plans for our clients. They not only take care of the essentials but provide *unlimited updates, content and SEO optimisation to support your digital strategy going forward, driving traffic and revenue.

Not one of our clients? No problem. Get in touch and we'll assess your website set up, discuss your goals and see if we can provide the outstanding support you need.

WordPress Consultant

Relax. We look after everything for you.

Website Support

Find out more about our exclusive website care plans

Look no further, we'll provide your website with the care and attention it deserves.
Your website will run faster. It will convert better, bring in more revenue with our exclusive care. All care plans are by application and are exclusive to our clients.

*Premium plugin licences are available subject to assessment. Unlimited updates depend on the plan selected.