WordPress updates

In recent years we’ve seen an enormous increase in requests for content management websites rather than HTML sites. WordPress is the most popular and easy to use content management software. Plugins and widgets help you extend your site’s capabilities with galleries, calendars, Facebook links and other features.

People choose WordPress in part to avoid paying for site updates, but sometimes this doesn’t work out very well. WordPress has a number of drawbacks (including difficulty formatting content nicely), but the most important drawbacks are its vulnerability to hackers and the difficulties of updating to new versions of WordPress, themes, plugins and widgets – which are required on a regular basis.

Installing WordPress
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 Headspace for SEO, Si Captcha for spam, a 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. Online software like WordPress eventually gets security leaks, and developers create new versions to patch the 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 Bluehost or other server that makes a backup copy of your files. Unlike a regular html or php website, there is no other copy of your WordPress site. Many servers don’t make a backup. Bluehost is rated the #1 choice by WordPress for this and other important reasons to do with the security of your site.

At Kits Media we also offer managed hosting on Bluehost servers. 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.