We don’t want to scare you, but people see a website update and assume it’s a quick fix. They assume they can knock it out quickly and get back to their regularly scheduled programming. PHP, plugin, and WordPress websites are necessary maintenance, but they’re not necessarily easy. Having a professional along for the ride can be the best investment you make in your website.

Maintaining your website requires regular updates to ensure security, performance and functionality. Skipping or improperly performing updates can lead to issues or even take your site offline. 

Being proactive is key! It’s crucial. Ongoing maintenance is far easier than fixing issues after they disrupt your operations. This guide explains the importance of updates and the steps to keep your site running smoothly. 

Essential Website Updates: PHP, Plugins, and WordPress Core

  • PHP Updates: PHP is a Hypertext Preprocessor. This is a server-side scripting language that is updated by the web hosting provider to improve speed and efficiency and helps ensure you are less vulnerable to attacks. 
  • Plugin Updates: These are software-ons, similar to apps on your phone. They enhance your website’s functionality and design, from security to bug fixes to performance, new features, and compatibility. Plugin updates may seem like a constant task, but it’s because they touch nearly every part of your website’s functionality. 
  • WordPress Core Update: WordPress is Red Thinking’s go-to content management system. Keeping this up to date addresses vulnerabilities, bug issues, speed and efficiency and introduces new features.

Understanding the Risks of Incorrectly Updating Your Website

Many think updating a website is a quick task, but it’s more than accepting new software versions; it’s about ensuring all parts are compatible, identifying code breaks and spotting vulnerabilities.

Here are 8 things that can happen if your website is updated without proper expertise.

  1. Parts of Your Website Stop Working: Incorrect PHP updates can break compatibility with older plugins and themes, causing your website to stop working.
  2. Broken Features: New plugin updates might not work with the current WordPress version or other plugins, leading to broken features.
  3. White Screen of Death: Incorrect WordPress updates can affect themes and plugins, causing broken layouts or a white screen of death.
  4. Security Breach: Interrupted updates can expose vulnerabilities, risking site and user data.
  5. Permanent Data Loss: Database or core file updates without proper backups can cause Irretrievable data loss.
  6. Functionality Breaks: Custom code in themes or plugins can be overwritten during updates, removing custom functionalities.
  7. Design Adjustments: Updates can reset custom CSS and design settings, affecting the site’s appearance.
  8. Negative Site Performance: Incompatible or poorly optimized updates can slow down the site, impacting user experience and SEO, and increasing server load.

Best Practices for Safe Website Updates
Again, updates are part of routine website maintenance and each time you update your website, it’s necessary to take these steps. 

  1. Create a Backup: Before performing any updates, create a full backup including the database and all files.
  2. Test on a Staging Site: Use a staging environment to test updates before applying them to the live site. If there are potential issues, you’ll catch them in staging before they go to the live site.
  3. Compatibility Check: Double and triple check compatibility. Review the changelogs and documentation of updates for potential compatibility issues and make sure the theme and plugins are compatible with the new versions.
  4. Update 1 by 1, in Order: Don’t try everything at once, or you could risk losing everything at once. PHP first, followed by plugins, then WordPress. Updating in this way also means that if there are issues, you can isolate the problem and solve it quicker. 
  5. Audit ASAP: After updating, immediately audit and test the site’s functionality. Don’t let issues linger. 

Looking to Ensure Your Website Runs Smoothly and Risk-Free?

Let us handle it for you! We provide comprehensive ongoing web maintenance, including updates for PHP, WordPress core and plugins. Our experts will handle the updates and make sure they are done correctly and on schedule. Reach out to hello@redthinkingllc.com to get started!