You may not remember Ron Popeil or his late-night infomercial for the Showtime Rotisserie Oven, but I’m willing to bet you remember his famous tagline urging us all to, “set it and forget it.” It’s what we all want, right? To do something one time and be done with it. Well, set it and forget it may work for rotisserie chicken (although, I doubt it), but it definitely does not work with websites, where routine maintenance is key. The first step in learning how to update WordPress is to shift your mindset. Don’t think “set it and forget it;” think “don’t be late for the latest WordPress update.” (…that’s not going to catch on, is it?)
Let us walk you through how to update WordPress.
What is a WordPress Update?
As an open source web development platform, WordPress is constantly evolving. A large community of developers contribute the code that powers the themes and plugins that make up your website. These developers are constantly tweaking and enhancing their code to introduce new features, improve performance of existing features, and/or stay up to date with industry standards. Each time this happens with WordPress itself or a plugin or theme that’s installed on your site, you’ll be notified that it’s time to update WordPress.
Why do I need to Update WordPress?
Running updates on your WordPress website regularly ensures that it will continue to perform at an optimal level. Routine maintenance will help sustain your site’s security, functionality, and speed. Failing to install the latest WordPress update not only means you’re missing out on new features and improvements, it also leaves your site vulnerable to attack from hackers and malware.
How do I Update WordPress?
Before you begin installing a new WordPress update, it’s a good idea to backup your site (both the files and the database). This way, if the update causes any major issues, you can easily restore your site to its previous version.
- WordPress Manual Updates: WordPress comes with a built-in update notification system. All you need to do to install an update manually is login to your site’s dashboard, click on updates and then click install. You can also set up email notifications that will alert you whenever a new WordPress update becomes available.
- WordPress Automatic Updates: All you “set it and forget it” fans, here’s your chance to let the site do the major lifting for you and install updates automatically. One way to do this is to install and activate an update managing plugin, like Easy Updates Manager. Another option is to add a simple line of code to your wp-config.php file (you’ll need separate lines of code for WordPress core, plugin updates, and updates to themes). The benefit of using automatic updates is, of course, that you won’t need to keep track of new releases and login to your site to have them take effect. The drawback—and it’s a big one—is that updates can often cause issues with existing code on your site causing functionality and rendering issues that you may not catch.
What should I do after I’ve installed the latest WordPress Update?
Newly introduced code from an update can sometimes interfere with your site’s existing infrastructure. When this happens, your site may exhibit issues with rendering, functionality, broken links and/or formatting issues. Best practices are to run a thorough check of the website after installing updates and work with your site’s developer to ensure that none of those broken links, rendering or functionality issues ever impact your site visitor’s experience.
Another thing you may want to do after installing the latest WordPress update is to get an in-depth training on any new features that were introduced. If you’ve upgraded to WordPress 5.0., the latest WordPress update, it’s likely you’ve already interacted with the new Gutenberg visual composer. One of the key goals of this new feature is to make editing content easier—from the most basic revision to some of the more advanced formatting capabilities that previously could only be done by an experienced coder. We have put together a comprehensive WordPress 5.0 training package that will help you navigate Gutenberg. Contact us for more information or to schedule a training.
What if I still want to use the “set it and forget it” approach to update WordPress?
Still want the low-key approach to keeping your website looking and performing at optimal levels? Inquire about Paradigm Marketing and Design’s WordPress management services. With a WordPress maintenance retainer, we will update WordPress on your site regularly and then carefully review it to ensure that there are no errors; if we find any, we fix them. This gives you the peace of mind you need to “set it and forget.” I’m sorry to say we can’t help with rotisserie chicken ovens though.