WordPress website Maintenance? That’s why it’s best to do it often

Sergio Panagia

Partner, Technical Director

Michele Giorgi

Designer & Developer

WordPress is one of the technologies we use to create custom sites and web applications for our customers’ companies (such as United VenturesDog Heroes and Valori).

It is a very powerful tool, which was initially born as a Content Management System for blogs and over the years has become a full-fledged software development platform.

Whether WordPress is used for a very simple website or as a component of a more complex software architecture, it is essential to pay attention to one of the sometimes most underestimated aspects: the regularity of the technical maintenance activities necessary to avoid the accumulation of so-called maintenance debt.

In this article we explain:

  • Why it is important to update WordPress frequently and what risks you run by not doing so.
  • As in Moze, we take care of keeping WordPress-based websites up to date.

Why do I need to keep my WordPress website up to date?

1. Security

Being a very popular technological solution (WordPress.org declares a market share of 43%), WordPress inevitably attracts the attention of attackers interested in finding vulnerabilities in the different software components.

The developers of WordPress and its accessory components (plugins) are consequently busy making continuous improvements, many of which are disseminated through the release of security patches. Updating the software components of your WordPress website therefore means reducing your exposure to known security vulnerabilities. 

2. New features and better user experience

WordPress is an open source CMS in continuous development. Developers are committed, among other things, to improving functionality for publisher users. Significant improvements to the content management tools are frequently released, which have a positive impact on the user experience of those who manage the website. An example is the introduction of the block editor (Gutenberg project) and the most recent Full Site Editing project.

Updating the components of WordPress means being able to take advantage of these new features in favour of, for example, a better user experience.

3. Bug fixing and performance

As the legendary developer DHH wrote, “bugs are an inevitable consequence of software development.” The team that develops WordPress and the authors of the accessory components frequently release fixes of known problems.

This generally results in better user interaction and, in particular cases, improved performance and loading times.

How do we maintain a WordPress site here at Moze?

  1. Core updates: we update the essential components of WordPress by applying upgrades (major releases, published two or three times a year) and updates (minor releases, published as needed).
  2. Plugin updates: we update third-party components. New versions usually fix bugs and security vulnerabilities or bring new features.
  3. PHP updates: we update the version of PHP, the server-side programming language on which WordPress is based, according to the appropriate frequency. PHP has a lifecycle that requires some attention: each release is supported for two years, plus an additional year to make security patches. Going beyond the three-year threshold means exposing your website to considerable risks. 
  4. Compatibility check and bug fixing: we test the updated website in a purpose-built staging environment. This allows us to verify its correct functioning and, if necessary, to intervene by resolving any side effects.
  5. Release to production: once we have verified the correct functioning of the website, we release the updated version in the production environment.

What about automatic updates?

WordPress allows you to automatically make core and plugin updates. However, it is not uncommon for an update to cause unexpected behaviour in one of the site’s functionalities, due to an incompatibility between components. For this reason, at Moze we carry out all updates manually, always checking that the site is functioning properly in a staging environment before making the updated version visible to the public.

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