Getting your car serviced is extremely important to the health and longevity of your vehicle. Well the same goes with your website. Ensuring that your website remains up to date is a vital part of a successful website.
Whenever WordPress does an update, we get clients contacting us asking us if they should update their website or not. We discuss the pros and cons of updating your WordPress website below.
WordPress is open source software which makes it free. It is developed by a community of developers. 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.
Security should be your most important reason to keep your website up to date. As WordPress powers a major portion of all the websites in the world, it is a popular target for hackers, malicious code distributors and data thieves.
Everytime a security vulnerability is reported, WordPress developers work to release an update to fix the vulnerability. This means that if your version of WordPress is on an older version then you are using software with known vulnerabilities. Hackers look for websites that are on older versions so that they can attempt to hack your website.
Hackers don’t only look for vulnerabilities within WordPress, they look at Plugins as well. There are literally millions of plugins available for WordPress. Some Free and some for a premium fee. Free plugins are more susceptible to hackers injecting code into them. This is because they don’t have to pay for the plugin first to look for vulnerabilities within it, they just download a free version that is popular and look to find the weaknesses. It is very easy to run a quick test to view what plugins are operational on your website and their version.
WordPress is always trying to improve and develop new features and changes that make the end user experience far more enjoyable.
If you are using an older version of WordPress, then your user experience will be a lot different to that of someone using the latest version. Something as simple as finding WordPress help online is far more difficult on an older version.
Speed and Performance
Google has recently partnered with WordPress developers to help make their website platform faster. Each new release comes with several performance improvements. Speed and performance are a crucial part of any successful website SEO campaign and conversion campaign. The faster your website responds to the end user the better their experience will be. Google does not like slow websites so ensuring your website is as fast as it can be is extremely important.
Nothing in life is perfect and the same goes with Software. Despite rigorous testing of WordPress and it’s updates, bugs do sometimes slip through the cracks. It is very important that WordPress fixes these bugs as quickly as possible. When WordPress does an update they release it as X.X.X for example: 4.2.3 which updated 20 bugs within version 4.2 of WordPress.
If you are a premium theme or premium plugins – updates are coordinated with any Major WordPress releases within days of the new release. This ensures that not only your WordPress version is up to date but so is your theme and plugins. If you are using older versions of themes and plugins on a newer version of WordPress you will encounter compatibility issues. Often with free themes and free plugins, updates are not done or not done timely and you can find your website falling behind very quickly. It is in situations like this that we would advise moving to a premium theme and premium plugins but this would require a rebuild.
If when your website was developed and your developer used custom codes to achieve an outcome you were looking for, then you could face issues with updating. When updating WordPress or a theme it will over-write any custom CSS if it hasn’t been placed in a child theme.
We always develop websites with child themes and place all custom CSS coding in these child themes to prevent any issues in the future. However more often than not, when you go offshore it is very common that custom CSS is added directly into the parent files and will be over written during an update.
We ALWAYS advise doing a full backup of your website before doing any major updates.
Negatives to Updating:
- Potential to overwrite custom CSS (if not placed in a child theme)
- Possibility of your website breaking if you are not using a compatible theme or plugins (Always do backups first so that you can recover if your website breaks)
Positives to Updating:
- Improved WordPress Security
- Improved Plugin Security
- Exciting new WordPress Features
- Increased Speed and Performance
- Fixing of any bugs within WordPress
- Ensuring theme and plugins are all compatible and up to date