Keeping your WordPress site up-to-date is a task millions of site owners around the world do everyday. Being able to quickly and easily make updates is one of the main reasons WordPress has become so popular with small businesses and nonprofits. One question we get frequently from our WordPress clients is about when to make WordPress, plugin, and theme updates.
Much of the information you will find online will advise you to be vigilant and make WordPress and plugin updates as soon as they are released. This advice is written with the best of intentions, and for the vast majority of site owners it is great information, but this advice isn’t for everyone.
Should you consider delaying some updates?
If you depend on your website being available to customers 24/7 the act of making updates without planning can cause a number of issues including:
- Failure of your site to load
- 500 errors
- Site looks different
- Site acts different
- Purchases no longer work
- Update failed and site is stuck in maintenance mode
Each of these situations can disrupt your business and takes you away from what’s important—like meeting the needs of your customers or spending time with your family—as you try to figure out what went wrong and how to fix it. It’s stressful and there’s usually yelling involved.
WordPress is open source, and that means there are hundreds of people all over the world working on improvements. They aren’t being malicious when they make changes, WordPress, plugins, and themes need to evolve to stay relevant, get rid of bugs, and add features users like you have requested.With the endless customization potential in WordPress, they really just don’t know how the changes will work with the customizations you have in place, and sometimes the updates they make can inadvertently cause problems.
So what should you do?
Maje Media recommends that if you rely on your website for business transactions you should plan ahead to update WordPress, plugins, and themes all at once, on a copy of your website (called a staging site) so you can monitor for issues.
You should also consider the following questions when you see available updates:
- Is this an update related to security?
- What is this plugin update fixing?
- Is this plugin update compatible with my current WordPress version?
- Do other plugins installed depend on this plugin – and do those plugins have updates available for new features?
- Does this plugin affect my site visually? How will the update change that?
- Are my installed plugins compatible with this WordPress update?
- Is my WordPress theme compatible with this WordPress update?
By asking these questions, you will find it’s not necessary to make every update as it becomes available and by making planned, intentional updates on a staging site, you can feel confident the updates you make will not harm your business. With years of experience, and a deep understanding of WordPress, Maje Media recommends protecting your live, critical site with a planned, thoughtful approach, making updates based on your business needs.