Plenty of people tend to see a notice come up for any kind of update, on any kind of device, and they swipe the notifications away on their phones or ignore the alert signal. The fear of breaking something, the uncertainty of the update contents, or just the time it takes to complete the download — whatever the excuse might be, they find that later on, they wish they had just completed the update when it was released. The same is true with WordPress updating.
These updates are more than just superficial changes that take time to upload with no visible or vital results. Since WordPress 1.0 was released back in 2004, the free content management program has kept track of its many different improvements, with each major release being named after a famous jazz musician. Each update helps to improve the overall experience for users and administrators.
Consider the History
Looking through its history of major releases, and you’ll see that these releases upgrade minimum database requirements, improve security, allow for a better user experience, and improve the process undergone by administrators to keep the backend running smoothly. As a result, it’s extremely important that as updates are released, you make sure you are using the latest version of WordPress for a variety of reasons.
Security is always the main reason you need to update WordPress on your website. The popular CMS is more than just a blogging tool. It is responsible for powering more than one-quarter of all websites on the internet. When comparing different CMS systems, WordPress is the overwhelming leader with nearly 60 percent of market share. As a result, in addition to the new usage of WordPress every day, there are new tools being developed by hackers and data thieves on a daily basis. Maintaining a secure environment is essential to gain and keep the trust of your clients and visitors.
Open Source Design
WordPress was designed to be open source, which means that anyone, anywhere, can access the code. It claims to be “created by and for the community,” and as a result, there are no licensing fees or restrictions for anyone to use the site and modify the code. It can be used or shared, changed and studied by anyone. While that provides a fantastic opportunity for anyone who is using the CMS as intended, it also means that anyone looking to cause damage can also examine the code to find ways to get inside and start hacking.
WordPress developers and team members work with security experts to find and report any bugs or breaks that could cause WordPress-powered sites to be vulnerable. As these are reported and solutions are created, WordPress releases updates that provide this fix to any site running WordPress. If you’re using WordPress, but not updating, your website is more prone to attacks because the hackers who want to cause damage will start by looking at websites running older versions of the software. By simply taking advantage of the latest updates, you can maintain a more secure online environment.
Page load speed is important. It’s so important that Google has released numerous blog posts and tools to help webmasters keep their sites moving quickly. They even created PageSpeed tools, which are designed to analyze your website’s performance and then provide you with suggestions to improve both your speed and user experience. Google has noted that page speeds were significant factors in ranking pages, and its developers started hinting at negative results for slow mobile pages. In June, the search engine announced that they were months away from a more concentrated effort on mobile page speeds. Consider the fact few people want to wait for a website to load. They are more likely to surf over to the competition instead.
The Need for Speed
With so many sites running WordPress, their developers understand the need for fast pages and high-quality performance. In addition to the security fixes, the new releases often include improvements to the performance of the site, whether it involves caching, navigation menus, feed support, speed optimizations, widgets and more. Improved performance equals faster page load times, higher search engine rankings and more traffic, all of which could lead to better business.
WordPress developers extensively test and retest the version releases to make sure they are as secure and stable as possible. Even so, bugs will come to the surface once the version is released. These are repaired in major releases — the next is set to come out in December — but in the meantime, WordPress releases minor updates that often repair the bugs. For example, version 4.6, Pepper Adams, was released Aug. 16. Just a few weeks later, WordPress released version 4.6.1, which not only fixes two security vulnerabilities but also repairs 15 bugs from version 4.6.
Updates Are Essential
If you haven’t updated, that will be the first step you need to take when you seek help from the WordPress community simply because that is the most likely cause for the issues you are experiencing. Making the necessary updates helps to ensure your WordPress site runs smoothly without those annoying bugs.
The version list for WordPress releases also notes that, in some instances, there are some really unique and new benefits that affect the way your website visitors engage with your site. For example, releases included pretty URLs, better comment threading, better audio and video support, emoji support, and responsive images, among many other updates. All of these boil down to giving you a better tool to reach your audience.
A Better Experience As An Administrator
The updates also improve your user experience as an administrator. You’ll find that your ability to update and create pages, edit images, and find what you need in the dashboard is much better. That helps you use your time and resources more wisely. By not updating to the newest version, you’re missing out on the opportunity be more efficient in your day-to-day responsibilities.
Compatibility is one of the main reasons to make sure your WordPress site is updated. There are more than 47,100 plugins with more than 1.4 million downloads — I’m sure your website has at least one installed. Developers are regularly checking on their apps and plugins to make sure that they are still working properly, and many will release major updates at the same time WordPress releases an update.
Consider the Plugins
Whether this is to make sure the plugin remains compatible or is to take advantage of the new features that accompany the release, new plugins may only work with the latest updates. That really helpful plugin that makes your site run better might be a bust if you don’t update to the latest version of WordPress. The latest version of WordPress ensures all of the cogs of your website work properly.
There are a few things to keep in mind before you jump in and update your WordPress website. Often businesses have a dedicated service handle WordPress to ensure it is done right.
Backup the Site
While it is not common, there are instances when an update can break your WordPress plugins. Your site could break or go down, and if you don’t have a recent backup you could lose recent or significant amounts of work.
Customizable Themes for WordPress Newbies
Developers who create themes, or templates for WordPress websites, often customize their own theme updates to coincide with the WordPress releases. This ensures that your website is using the full WordPress capability. It also means that unless you are a skilled developer, or work with one, changing the code of your WordPress site could cause damage to your site. Theme developers have created themes that will be able to stand up to the new WordPress updates, but highly editing styles could require more expertise.
Monitoring Across the Board
Monitor for updates not only for WordPress, but also for the plugins and themes you are running. When you go to your dashboard, you’ll see an Updates menu item, and there will be alerts that let you know what needs to be done. Websites running WordPress version 3.7 or above have access to automatic updates for the minor releases, and you can choose to have the major updates automatically released, as well. These are convenient, but should be carefully monitored by an experienced professional if you aren’t using fully-managed WordPress hosting. If plugins and themes haven’t been updated for compatibility with the new update, you could find yourself with a site that has breaks that you might not even know about for an extended period of time.
If you found yourself analyzing your WordPress site while reading, it’s time to call in a professional. We can take care of your updates, as well as optimize your website, provide more thorough protection, make daily off-site backups, and be accessible 24/7 to make sure your site is working the way it should.
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