How To Update And Maintain Your Website
Technology is constantly evolving. This means your new website WILL become outdated. Like a brand new car, if not properly maintained, it WILL break. A website is not to be put up and forgotten about. Studies have shown that keeping your websites content up to date and fresh can boost sales, reduce bounce rates and greatly reduce the risk of security issues. So here are some common problems and some tips to keep your website healthy and running in tip-top condition for a long, long time:
Back-Up Your Site Regularly
This is probably the most important maintenance task you can do. One of the main reasons we recommend regular updates is so you don’t get hacked. Part of what makes hacked sites difficult to deal with is that oftentimes you don’t even notice that they’ve been compromised. The hacker may have infected your site with harmful code which in turn can record keystrokes on visitors’ computers, stealing login credentials for online banking or financial transactions. This is why you should keep your code up to date and back up your website frequently. It is far cheaper to update your site then go through the costly process of scrubbing a site of malicious code.
Create A Staging Environment
WordPress, Magento and other popular CMS platforms are constantly evolving. Sometimes an update to the CMS, Plugins and/or Theme can cause conflicts that need to be resolved. This is why you need to create a staging environment to do updates. A staging environment is a a mirror image of your website on a subdomain of your server. Most hosting companies offer a service to create a staging environment. This allows you to thoroughly test your website after making an update before you make it live so that your visitors are not impacted should something go wrong.
Update your CMS, Plugins and Theme
Best practice is to update your website whenever you receive a notification from the CMS, Plugin Developer or Theme Developer. First click on the “Please update now” link (A). If everything is set up properly, in MOST* cases, this will take you to the update-core page in WordPress and all you have to do is follow these steps. Remember, ALWAYS back up your site (B). Then scroll down to the core update section (C) and press the blue “Update Now” button (D). In many cases, everything can be done from this panel. Once WordPress has been updated, then it’s time to update the plugins. click “select all” and hit “Update Plugins” (E). It’s that easy in most cases. You can also go to the plugin page and update them one by one (F). Lastly, go to the Appearance link in the sidebar and click “Themes” and check if your theme needs updating. If so, same thing, click “Update Available” (G) and you are all done. In MOST* case it’s literally that easy.
*WordPress, Magento and other popular CMS platforms are constantly evolving. Sometimes an update to the CMS, Plugins and/or Theme can cause conflicts that need to be resolved. Resolving errors that are caused by these conflicts can be tricky, so if you notice something is amiss, restore from the back-up you made and reach out to a professional developer.
Learn To Use Your CMS
Once your code is all up to date, don’t forget that an important part of website maintenance involves keeping your content up to date. Most websites these days utilize a content management system (CMS) as a convenient way for admins without programming knowledge to easily make updates. But there is also the potential for untrained or hurried users to break items within a site. Admins should receive proper CMS training from the website creator.
Don’t forget that the Bureau of Small Projects offers support for the life of the sites we build. Take us up on that offer because if you break it, it may be costly to fix.