The Importance Of Updating Plugins And Themes
by Tez Ferguson
So You Have A WordPress Website?
Well of course you do! Over one third of the Internet is not currently based on WordPress websites, and this number continues to grow!
Each WordPress site has basic functionality and as you install various Themes and Plugins, these functionalities grow. As they grow so does the vulnerabilities of your website, hence why we always recommend updating your plugins and themes as soon as a new version comes available.
What Is A WordPress Theme?
Every WordPress Website uses a WordPress Theme which helps to make your site more presentable and stand out from the rest. Often when you first install WordPress a FREE Theme will be applied with a catalogue of various other FREE Themes to choose from.
You can also purchase more advanced Themes through various websites. A simple Google Search for WordPress Themes will bring back plenty of results.
In simple terms a WordPress Theme is the layout of your site, which includes where the Menu will be, how the pages will be laid out and certain aspects such as colours used throughout the website.
What Are WordPress Plugins
Plugins are simply function add ons that enable you to add additional tools to your website. This can be anything from speed enhancement tools, to SEO tools like Yoast SEO. All of which have a purpose that can help grow your website with very little effort from yourself.
The only problem with these Plugins is keeping on top of them. Whilst the web is constantly growing, so is WordPress.
Developers at WordPress are constantly adding additional features to make the whole experience more “User Focused”, which is great in hindsight but that means Plugins need to be adapted to work with these new functions.
So Why Must We Keep Themes And Plugins Updated?
As the web adapts so does the technology, it’s like your computers Anti Virus Protection. If you didn’t do the regular updates then your Anti Virus software wouldn’t be able to protect you from the latest threats.
This same aspect applies to updating Plugins and Themes. Whilst security is key there are other functionality aspects to consider…
Security Issues With Plugins
As mentioned above, your plugins need to be updated regularly to ensure that they meet all the requirements WordPress puts in place.
With WordPress expanding regularly and over two thirds of the Internet being created on a WordPress platform it is no doubt that it is a target for Hackers. As soon as a breach is found they have the ability to access all of your files and delete or control the site.
This is why Developers work hard to ensure your site is fully functional at all times updating their plugin code to meet these requirements.
Failure to update your plugin opens up potential to lose your site and even worse… Customers!
Functionality Issues With plugins
Alongside the Security risks, you also run the risk of functionality issues. From plugins having bugs that cause other plugins to not run, to white screen of death issues.
For those that have never heard of the White Screen of Death… Lucky you!
Never the less plugins are updated regularly to ensure they meet all the latest requirements. Developers also often add additional features that may help grow your website, so its obviously in your best interest to update them.
Paid Vs Free Plugins Which Is Best?
In todays modern world we feel that nothing is ever FREE. Well WordPress proves otherwise. There are plenty of top plugins that come free of charge, and many premium plugins that come at a cost.
For example a great example of a free plugin is Yoast SEO. We love this for our SEO purposes, however they also offer a premium package as well. For your purposes as a basic website the free version is fine.
Then there are speed enhancement and security plugins. Whilst the FREE ones offer great functionality, you truly only open up the real great potential when you purchase the paid version.
This isn’t to say it is always the case, but put yourself in their shoes. A company charging for a plugin has more financial benefit to keep the plugin updated and continuously develop it.
What are your thoughts?
Paid Vs Free Themes Which Is Best?
Similar to plugins, paid themes often offer more functionality. This isn’t necessarily the case though. Often we have purchased themes for projects and found them more buggy than any others.
The best thing to do before purchasing or downloading a theme is to thoroughly test it on a demo site, and then read through the reviews and comments. Often you will find some interesting facts about whether it is suited for your requirements or not.
How To Update Plugins
Updating Plugins truly is a simple task but we must warn you that often they can cause conflicts.
We will be writing a new post shortly for an in-depth guide on how to update plugins but for now follow the following:
1 – Log into your Admin Panel Backend
2 – Locate Plugins on the left hand side menu and click it
3 – Once the plugins have loaded look for any that say update now
4 – Click this and let it run (it is now updating a plugin)
5 – Once complete it will go green and then you can update others.
Whilst you can bulk update we recommend doing it one by one to prevent any errors occurring. The last thing you want it to update all of them and the whole site breaks but you do not know which plugin caused it!
How To Update Themes
Theme updates are usually a lot more trickier…
If you are using a FREE theme from the theme library you are able to click the update button like you would with Plugins. This works wonders but remember if you have made any changes to the code it may be overwritten so always remember to create a Child Theme.
Alternatively if you have purchased a theme you may find it a pain to update. The easiest way is via your FTP where you download the latest theme files and upload them to overwrite your theme in your FTP file.
Be sure to take a backup first! We will write a guide on how to do this soon!
The Importance Of A Child Theme
Whilst many will disagree, the first task we always do when using a theme is to create a Child Theme. Basically any changes made to the code of a purchased or FREE theme will be lost if the Developer makes changes and you update your theme.
This means any hard work you have put into the theme to make it your own is then potentially lost.
This is why we recommend creating a Child theme. Most themes often come with a child theme, alternatively here is a good guide on how to create one:
Issues That Can Occur
Over the years we have noticed numerous issues and errors with Plugins and Themes where either they have not been updated correctly, failed, or they have conflicted with other plugins.
Errors like this can potentially not only break a basic function of the website, they could also damage the whole site causing error screens on loading the homepage and much more.
A great example of this was recently Contact Form 7 made a change to their plugin to work with the new WordPress amendments. The plugin works wonderfully and we always recommend it however on this instance it was clashing with another plugin.
The clash caused the whole site to be down. We always test on a development server before pushing live so this issue never reached the main website, however if this was just your average Joe Bloggs working on their live site, they could have potentially lost hundreds of visitors for the day on their website and ended up paying a fortune to a developer to fix a simplistic fix.
How We Can Help
Here at Xploited Media, we do more than just create websites, our primary goal is to help you grow as a business, gain more brand recognition, earn more from sales whilst not taking on any additional work.
This is where we come in… We offer unique WordPress Maintenance Plans that provide you with the monthly support you require, so you can continue focusing on what you do best… Running your business!
We take care of the updates of plugins, speed enhancements, theme updates and plenty more! For further information click here!
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