As an ever-evolving open source venture, WordPress changes a lot, and often, for the better. And it’s up to you to make sure you update to the latest version.
Important links from this episode:
- Try StudioPress Sites
- Sites Weekly Newsletter
- Subscribe to Sites on Apple Podcasts
- @JerodMorris on Twitter
- Original blog post: Automatic Updates for Website Security and Peace of Mind
- Why You Should Always Use the Latest Version of WordPress
Jerod Morris:Welcome to Sites, a podcast by the teams at StudioPress and Copyblogger. In this show, we deliver time-tested insight on the four pillars of a successful WordPress website: content, design, technology, and strategy. We want to help you get a little bit closer to reaching your online goals, one episode at a time.
I’m your host Jerod Morris.
Sites is brought to you by StudioPress Sites — the complete hosted solution that makes WordPress fast, secure, and easy … without sacrificing power or flexibility. For example, you can upload your own WordPress theme, or, you can use one of the 20 beautiful StudioPress themes that are included and just one click away. Explore all the amazing things you can do with a StudioPress Site, and you’ll understand why this is way more than traditional WordPress hosting. No matter how you’ll be using your site, we have a plan to fit your needs — and your budget. To learn more, visit studiopress.com/sites. That’s studiopress.com/sites.
Welcome back to another episode of Sites — another week of unpacking a strategy that will help you build a better, more powerful, more successful WordPress website.
Last week, we discussed how to create visually effective calls to action with some sage advice from Rafal Tomal. Hopefully you took the opportunity to analyze the calls to action on your website and figured out a tweak or two that will help you convert better.
This week, we’re going to discuss a topic that needs to be top of mind for every single person running a WordPress website — and it needs to stay top of mind for every single person running a WordPress website. It’s that important
In fact, if you are not going to take this seriously, you might as well just toss your hands up in the air and start over right now — without WordPress. I’m not kidding. This is that important.
What am I referring to?
As an ever-evolving open source venture, WordPress changes a lot for the better. And it’s up to you to make sure you update to the latest version.
And, while we’re on the subject, theme framework updates too. A lot of times they go hand in hand, with theme framework updates following soon after a WordPress update.
You might remember back to episode 15, when we discussed plugins, and I implored you to only install plugins that are up to date, and to make sure you keep them up to date.
The same is true for WordPress update, and updates to your theme framework. And in this episode I’m going to explain the three massively important reasons why this must be, and remain, a top priority for you as a WordPress site owner.
Let’s start off with the most important and urgent reason why you need to keep WordPress and your theme framework up to date:
The number one way that bad guys infiltrate a site is through outdated themes, plugins, and, of course, old versions of WordPress. It’s become such an issue that many WordPress site owners pay a decent chunk of money each month to have an outside service keep things updated and safe.
Think about it … hackers are always trying to come up with new ways to weasel their way into our sites so they can steal data or plant malicious code. If you stick with today’s version of WordPress, how safe do you think you’ll be a year from now? Not very.
The developers of WordPress work hard to stay out in front of the hackers — patching known holes, and doing everything they can to prevent future vulnerabilities. But the only way for your site to benefit from these efforts is to stay updated.
Which is why this is a non-negotiable if you’re going to run a WordPress website. You have to stay up-to-date — whether you do it yourself, pay a service do it for you, or host someplace like StudioPress Sites that includes an automatic WordPress update option.
Speaking of which … this leads me to theme framework updates too. Often a WordPress update is followed by a theme framework update. Makes sense, right? If the base code gets an update, the theme framework, which is layered on top of that base code, needs to be updated to maintain compatibility and take advantage of any new features.
Plus, theme frameworks also have to worry about security — which means patching holes and preventing future ones. So just as you need to keep WordPress updated, you need to keep your theme framework updated too.
However you do this, just make sure you do it. We believe so much in the importance of these kinds of updates that we built both right into StudioPress SItes — automatic WordPress AND Genesis Framework updates. It doesn’t cost a penny more.
So whether you do it yourself, pay someone else, or go with a host that has it built in — again, just make sure the updates are happening.
It’s essential to keep your site safe from the Internet evildoers who would love nothing more than to cause you and your website harm.
So that’s the #1 reason to keep WordPress and your theme framework updated: security.
Now let’s discuss two more massively important reasons to stay up to date …
Reason #2 is new features and bug fixes.
New versions of WordPress aren’t JUST about keeping bad guys out. They are also about making it easier and more enjoyable for you to use, and about giving your audience a better experience. If you stay on an old version of WordPress, you miss out on these new features.
Plus, sometimes new features roll out and they don’t work as intended. These are bugs. And they can be a real bummer. In that way, bug fixes can essentially be like new features because they allow you to fully embrace and use a feature that wasn’t functioning correctly before.
Let me give you a couple of examples …
On June 8, 2017, WordPress 4.8 rolled out. It included new features like link improvements, three new media widgets covering images, audio, and video, an updated text widget that supports visual editing, and an upgraded news section in your dashboard which brings in nearby and upcoming WordPress events. Useful features.
Then in subsequent months, security and maintenance releases rolled out as well. These didn’t include new features, but did fix bugs and update security measures.
WordPress is in a competitive market. They want as many people as possible building sites on their platform. And to keep up, they have to keep adding new features that keeps WordPress ahead of the curve. There is no reason for you to not take advantage of those new features on your websites.
And the same thing goes for your theme framework as well. Updates often include new features and functionality that you’ll want to build on.
So that’s reason #2 to stay up-to-date: new features and bug fixes, so your site is even more powerful.
And reason #1, remember, was security.
How about reason #3?
It’s speed and performance.
If you want a refresher on the importance of speed and performance, go back and listen to episode 3 of Sites. We discussed why it matters so much.
In short — better site performance leads to a better experience for your users, which leads to more conversions, repeat visitors, and better search rankings, all of which increases your opportunity to build your audience and, ultimately, build a business around it.
I’d say that’s a pretty compelling case for taking performance seriously.
Well, with each new WordPress update, all the under-the-hood stuff is made more efficient. As was noted in a blog post at WPBeginner.com, WordPress 4.2 improved JS performance for navigation menus, and WordPress 4.1 improved complex queries which helped with performance of sites using those queries.
And the same is true for your theme framework. Its code gets updated to be more efficient and deliver better performance.
So, in review, here are the three massively important reasons why you need to keep WordPress and your theme framework up to date:
Security — it keeps your site safe.
New features and bug fixes — it keeps your site on the cutting edge.
Speed and performance — it keeps your site humming along like a well-oiled machine.
Now stick around for this week’s hyper-specific call to action.
Call to action
Here is my question for you: what is your current process for keeping WordPress and your theme framework updated?
Maybe your host does it for you. Maybe someone manages your site and that’s part of what they do. Maybe you have a recurring to-do item that reminds you to check for updates regularly. Or maybe you have resolved to update yourself whenever you log in and see that an update is available.
Whatever your process is — just make sure you have one. And if you don’t, get one. And if this is something that you just don’t want to worry about, that’s fine. Totally understanding. But you need to hire someone, or choose a host, that will handle it for you.
We’ll obviously welcome you with open arms at StudioPress Sites. Just go to studiopress.com to learn more.
Okay, that’s it for this week. Next week we move on to strategy, and we’re going to discuss repurposing content, and why focusing on quality over quantity is a smart idea. That’s next week, here on Sites.
Finally, before I go, here are two more quick calls to action for you to consider:
Subscribe to Sites Weekly
If you haven’t yet, please take this opportunity to activate your free subscription to our curated weekly email newsletter, Sites Weekly.
Each week, I find four links about content, design, technology, and strategy that you don’t want to miss, and then I send them out via email on Wednesday afternoon.
Reading this newsletter will help you make your website more powerful and successful. Go to studiopress.com/news and sign up in one step right there at the top of the page. That’s studiopress.com/news.
Rate and Review Sites on Apple Podcasts
And finally, if you enjoy the Sites podcast, please subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts (formerly known as iTunes), and consider giving us a rating or a review over there as well.
One quick tip on that: to make the best use of your review, let me know something in particular you like about the show. That feedback is really important.
To find us in Apple Podcasts, search for StudioPress Sites and look for the striking purple logo that was designed by Rafal Tomal. Or you can also go to the URL sites.fm/apple and it will redirect you to our Apple Podcasts page.
And with that, we come to the close of another episode. Thank you for listening to this episode of Sites. I appreciate you being here.
Join me next time, and let’s keep building powerful, successful WordPress websites together.
This episode of sites was brought to you by StudioPress Sites, which was awarded “Fastest WordPress Hosting” of 2017 in an independent speed test. If you want to make WordPress fast, secure, and easy — and, I mean, why wouldn’t you — visit studiopress.com/sites today and see which plan fits your needs. That’s studiopress.com/sites.