You’re excited – you’ve finally got your shiny new website up for the world to see! You’ve put so much work or money into getting it just right…the last things you want to think about are:
- Updates that could break your site
- Changes you make that kill your site’s performance
- Hackers getting control of your site and using it to distribute malware
- Being Blacklisted by Google
- A lawsuit because you didn’t have appropriate legal policies
Unfortunately, these scenarios could become reality if you don’t properly maintain your WordPress website. And, any one of these could make your investment of time and/or money go right down the drain (or at least, cost a pretty penny to fix).
WordPress is a great website platform with a lot of power under the hood – but, as Uncle Ben always said – “With great power comes great responsibility.” Just like you properly care for and maintain your car, you need to properly maintain your WordPress site – not drive it recklessly until it breaks down in the middle of the freeway, leaving you stranded.
So what does maintenance consist of? Arguably the most important part of site maintenance is making sure you have good backups, and know how to restore from backup ahead of time in case something goes wrong. When your site is down is not the time to realize that your backups weren’t really working, weren’t full backups, or that you don’t know how to use them.
The 2nd step of maintaining your site is to install updates. There are 3 different types of updates that regularly need to be installed on your WordPress website:
- WordPress Core Updates – these are updates to the core WordPress files themselves. They are required less frequently than the other 2 types of updates
- Plugin Updates – these are updates to the plugins, which provide much of the functionality of your site. They can happen pretty frequently, since plugins are developed by different teams all over the world, with their own independent schedules.
- Theme Updates – these are updates to the themes, which usually provide the look and feel of your website. Updates to themes can also happen frequently.
All the various components of your WordPress site that give it the unique look and functionality you wanted are actually different pieces of code written by different developers. While they all work great together at the time of your site launch, sometimes an update can result in different pieces of code conflicting with each other. This can cause functionality to break, your design to go wonky, or in extreme cases a plain white screen – known as the “white screen of death.”
In order to prevent any of that from happening, it is crucial to have great backups. In some cases, you may be able to isolate the plugin or theme causing issues and disable it, but sometimes you’ll need to quickly revert to a backup and come up with a different plan. Sometimes the developer of the offending plugin puts out another update that fixes the problem. Other times you may have to find a different plugin to substitute to prevent loss of functionality. But, these solutions take time, so in the meantime you’ll need to get back up and running with your backup.
You’ve already invested money and time into building a great website. Make sure you protect that investment by maintaining your site. The above is considered minimal maintenance for your site – I’ll address additional maintenance items in a separate post.
Or, if maintenance sounds like the type of headache you’d rather outsource, check out our reasonably priced maintenance packages at the link below!