Keeping Your WordPress Website Up To Date
There is no doubt that WordPress is one of the most commonly used Content Management Systems on the planet. Statistics, from trusted sources such as BuiltWith, claim that WordPress is the most commonly used CMS platform, with 51% of all content management system websites on the internet using a WordPress CMS. From the top 10,000 websites using a CMS, 38% use the much favoured platform, still a considerable majority. Statistics fluctuate between Internet Research companies, but one common denominator is shared by most and that is that WordPress comes out on top when analysing the most commonly used CMS brands.
But what has this got to do with updating your version of WordPress or website security? All websites need to be kept up to date and secure, regardless of the technologies used to build them, but the more common a platform becomes the more emphasis should be placed on ensuring its vulnerabilities are kept to a minimum. The more popular it is, the more exposure it tends to receive.
WordPress is the chosen CMS of the majorities for good reason. It’s community of open source developers is vast and updates for the platform are both regular and are commonly focused around security and user experience.
Why You Must Keep Your WordPress Site Up To Date
There are a number of reasons that explain the importance behind updating your WordPress website, but for easy digestion we will summerise into 5 key points.
The dominance of WordPress makes it a coveted target for hacking attempts, however with great size comes great responsibility and the huge WordPress community of developers take this very seriously. The WordPress community is also one of, if not the, largest single community of supporting developers. There are core developers supporting updates to the core platform of WordPress ,Plugin & Widget developers who support the additional add ons we ‘plugin’ to WordPress and Theme Developers who support the creation of WordPress themes.
WordPress itself is updated on a regular basis, some updates are small and happen more regularly than others, however there has been, and always will be, major updates that attempt to reduce the risks of uninvited infiltration (hacking).
WordPress Facts: Did you know that every major WordPress update is named after a Jazz Musician? The most recent update, 4.6, being named after Jazz Musician Pepper Adams! (See the full list of Jazzers and Release Dates)
Once a WordPress update has been released, all previous versions are considered unsecure. However, there is no need to panic if your WordPress website is not the latest version, although it would certainly be worth planning a regular visit to your website admin area to check your version against the most recent version. Check how many updates there have been since your version release and see what major features have been added. At the very least following any major release it is recommended you update. You can check whether there is a new update available in the WordPress Release Archive.
Following a ‘major’ WordPress update, previous versions of the platform are no longer considered ‘supported’ by the community. Historically major updates to WordPress happen every 4 months or so (on average) and it is the major updates that are named in honour of famous Jazz Musicians.
In a lot of cases, website development agencies and the WordPress community alike, will still support you with issues raised regarding your site. However, the longer you leave it to update your WordPress version, the higher the risk that support will not be available for you when you need it most.
Bugs are a term used by website developers to describe an issue effecting website functionality (or styling) usually caused by a fault in the associated code or a conflicting piece of code (usually within plugin or a script). Because WordPress is an open source software, developers who learn about how WordPress structures and sorts its code, files and database can work on any WordPress website. The word ‘community’ in the world of WordPress could not be more accurate. WordPress developers across the world regularly report any bugs they find in WordPress to the core development team, as well as reporting bug finds in plugins and themes to their accredited authors.
New WordPress updates will often include bug fixes that have been commonly reported by the community.
All websites, regardless of their CMS platform brand or origins, are at the mercy of the website browser. A website browser, such as Google Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer, is a software application that reads, interprets and displays information in a URL. Each browser renders the information slightly differently, which is why a website sometimes looks different when compared across different browsers. Cross browser compatibility is something considered more in the design stage of a website build, but it is browser version that is often a factor for updates with new WordPress releases. What information can be displayed, how it can be displayed, what advantages or restrictions are there with the current browser version, are all items considered with new WordPress updates to ensure WordPress is as compatible as possible with all common browsers and taking advantages of any new features the browser incorporates.
WordPress Facts: Some of the largest brands and companies in the world trust WordPress such as The New Yorker, BBC America, Sony Music, Ford Motor Company as well as Facebook (used for their Newsroom).
Improvements within the User Experience (UX) and User Interface (UI) are two improvement areas often focused on by the core development team over at WordPress HQ (WordPress Corporate Office Headquarters Automattic, Inc. 60 29th Street #343, San Francisco, California 94110-4929 USA – Ed: We really do our research at Verve!).
Back in 2003 the very first WordPress UI was released, but there was no dashboard and very limited features. Fast forward to 2008 and the UI was feature rich with one click updates for plugins, auto install features and sticky posts amongst an array of others introduced across the year. Now in 2016 we find ourselves at the pinnacle of WordPress UI and UX with enhanced media management, improved editing functionality and many responsive features now set as standard.
What You Must Update
Before you update anything in your WordPress website, it is strongly recommended seek the professional advice of a WordPress Developer. There are 3 areas of your WordPress website that you can potentially update.
- WordPress Platform
- WordPress Plugins & Widgets
- WordPress Theme
What you must consider prior to any update are the effects that your update can have on the other areas. An update to the WordPress platform version may affect an installed plugin if the plugin in question is not compatible with the latest WordPress version. This is the reason why it is important to not update your WordPress website yourself unless you are experienced and competent WordPress developer. At the time of writing the latest version of WordPress is 4.6 or Pepper to the WordPress community after jazz baritone saxophonist Park Frederick “Pepper” Adams III and includes features such as Streamlined Updates, Native Fonts and Content Recovery – a handy feature that saves your content to your web browser allowing you to recover lost content in an instant!
Check out the full feature list from the WordPress latest release.
Updating Your WordPress Site, Plugins and Theme
Unless you are an experienced WordPress Developer we would always recommend you hire a Professional WordPress Developer. There are a number of checks that have to be made when updating your WordPress website and with one click a WordPress website can easily be broken. Verve Graphic Design & Marketing have a streamlined process and service for updating WordPress websites. Before any update is processed we create a copy of your website and this copy is used for the update initially. Once processed we test and check the site fully. We ensure all existing functionality has not been effected and any additional plugins or custom code are in full working order. Only when we are satisfied that the website is working correctly in conjunction with the latest update do we update
Verve Graphic Design & Marketing have a streamlined process and service for updating WordPress websites. Before any update is processed we create a copy of your website and this copy is used for the update initially. Once processed we test and check the site fully. We ensure all existing functionality has not been effected and any additional plugins or custom code are in full working order. Only when we are satisfied that the website is working correctly in conjunction with the latest update do we update the your live website. The testing environment we create ensures there are no interruptions with your website.
WordPress Top Tip: iThemes Security is an awesome plugin to help enhance the security levels of your WordPress website. Features such as User Action Login, 2-Factor Authentication, Hidden WordPress Security Vulnerabilities, Troublesome Users Bans, Database Backups and other security features help keep your WordPress site secure and the plugin is updated on a regular basis by its author. The plugin will require configuration so if you haven’t downloaded and configured plugins before it is worth contacting a Professional WordPress Developer.
If you want to find out whether your WordPress website is up to date check at the bottom of your website admin page. In the bottom right hand corner of the footer you will find the version number. If you would like professional assistance updating your WordPress site you can contact the WordPress Development Team at Verve the Graphic Design, Website Development & Digital Marketing experts.