In recent years there has been an enormous surge in WordPress sites. WordPress is the most popular and easy to use content management software. Current statistics indicate almost 1/3 of the world’s sites are now built on a WordPress foundation. Plugins and widgets are smaller scripts that extend the site with galleries, calendars, Facebook links and other features.
WordPress has a number of drawbacks (including difficulty formatting content), but the most important drawbacks are its vulnerability to hackers and the constant need to update. WordPress needs to be updated once or twice a year, as do the themes, plugins and widgets.
Wordpress is a framework of 1300-1500 files. We begin by installing these files on your server, as well as various WordPress plugins we recommend or you request. The WordPress framework, plugins and widgets are created by other people – we simply assemble them and modify them to suit your needs.
Next we make a page design (called a theme). We start with a basic theme from WordPress and make a “child theme” so we can customize the layout and text styles to get the look you want. To protect your own security we prefer not to use free themes, although we can match any free theme you like. (Read more about why you should avoid free WordPress themes.)
After we install WordPress and customize a theme, we make sure your plugins are compatible. Some of our recommended plugins include Contact Form 7, Si Captcha for spam, Add This share widget for social media, and Google Analytics.
Your blank pages are now ready for content. You can send text and images to us and we can make pages with your content. Or you can add your own images and text.
When you need to update
Weeks, months or a year later, you will start seeing requests on your Dashboard to update to a new version of WordPress or update a plugin. Most updates are necessary to patch security leaks. If you don’t update, you might link to your site one day and see a nice big “We hacked your website” sign and all your pages of content gone forever. It is a sickening feeling. It’s happened to four of our clients who were on extremely well-known hosts, and their files are gone forever because their hosts did not do back-ups. (Please note: We no longer build WordPress sites on servers we don’t trust. Please see Choosing a host for more information.)
However, updating can have its challenges. Remember you are using a compilation of various scripts originally created by other people who don’t know each other. Some of them will update their products and others won’t. When you update WordPress, you might find your plugins disappear, or worse, be incompatible with your theme or other plugins.
Should you go ahead and do the updates yourself? Yes and no.
In some cases, your theme might fall apart because it was built for an earlier version of the WordPress framework. If this happens, you’ll have to load a new theme then fix things that don’t work out. Plugins are even trickier. New versions may not be compatible with each other. You’ll have to take them all off and reload them one at a time until you get the right combination again.
You may notice certain things are missing from your site after you update them. Google Analytics and social media plugins often vanish. If you have galleries, the gallery plugin may stop working or give you error messages, but the new version of the gallery plugin may not look the same as the old one, and it may not work the same way. You might need to install a completely different plugin and you might have to resize your images or thumbnails.
It’s very important to be hosted on a server that makes a backup copy of your files, and we also recommend an additional backup system in the event the host’s server fails. Unlike a regular html or php website, there is no other copy of your WordPress site. Many servers don’t make a backup.
At Kits Media we also offer managed hosting on a Canadian server. Managed hosting gives you an added layer of security and ensures we can easily install backup copies for you.
We proceed very carefully after first making our own backup of your files, and we recommend you do the same if you choose to do your own updates.