What are WordPress updates and why are they important?
How WordPress works in a changing digital environment
WordPress, like any software, needs to adapt to a changing world. The technologies that make it function are changing on a regular basis. Without updates you would very soon find that it would stop being useful compared to competitors or that security issues would crop up that malicious parties would take advantage of.
Types of updates
WordPress has one of the biggest and most active development communities in the world which means that it benefits from regular updates. Let’s take a look at the various types of update that you will come across.
Security updates are some of the most important updates. Every piece of software has bugs in it. No matter how hard you try, complex software is prone to have bugs at launch. With security updates you can send out an update to “patch” the bug or issue.
Often WordPress relies on other web technologies that can have vulnerabilities in them. Sometimes security updates will be released to protect against these vulnerabilities once they become known.
Minor bugs and fixes
Sometimes code ships and it just doesn’t quite work the way it should. Sometimes there is a specific device type that has an issue or a certain web browser. In these case where the bug isn’t going to cause any issues you would class it as a minor fix. These types of bug fix are focussed more on the way a site works rather than security issues. They can be major or minor.
A major bug fix would generally require a major reworking of the software or it was simply a system-breaking issue that would stop the software working if not addressed. A minor bug wouldn’t stop the system being functional.
Similar to how bug fixing is classified, you will have minor changes to functionality. These updates tend to be relatively silent in that they don’t change any significant parts of WordPress. They provide additional features without affecting other parts of the system. These updates are the easiest to deal with because they can generally be installed without worrying that your site could break as a result.
Over time, software will go through many iterations as it develops to adapt to new trends and technologies. If a major update to WordPress comes out it generally comes with a major shift in some or large portions of the functionality.
A great example of this is the upcoming Gutenberg editor and version 5 of WordPress that it is intended to be launched with.
These updates change functionality dramatically and should be thoroughly tested for compatibility and potential issues with custom themes and plugins before updating.
The importance of keeping software update
Let’s look specifically at some of the reasons why it is important to keep WordPress, and software in general, up to date.
Hackers and malicious intent
Hackers are always on the lookout for vulnerable websites. Hackers are also generally very skilled developers. When it comes to an open source system such as WordPress, they are looking through the same code that everyone else is. If they find a vulnerability they will try to exploit this to gain entry to the site or cause some harm.
Updating means that you benefit from the talented WordPress development community who are constantly trawling through the code and fixing potential issues that they find.
It takes time to develop software as complex as WordPress. Sometimes it simply isn’t realistic to launch all of the best features in one go. THere is a process of developing, testing and improving that has to happen first.
As these ideas are released they will be issued via updates. If you never update your software you could be missing out on some powerful and exciting new features that could benefit your website.
It’s important to give confidence to the users of your website. If someone is going to be willing to make a payment through your ecommerce shop for example then they will want to know that there isn’t a risk to their data.
Although updates aren’t the only factor here, keeping your systems up to date can provide confidence that you are active in the upkeep and maintenance of your website. If you experience a breach or hack as a result of poorly updated software than that can seriously knock customer confidence.
WordPress updates are incredibly important when it comes to maintaining a healthy website. It is important that you keep your website regularly updated and protect your brand reputation.
Make sure that as you consider any update that you are sure of what you are doing and thoroughly test your site before it goes live.
If you would like to discuss how the team at Illustrate can help you handle the process of updating keeping your website secure than please feel free to reach out to us.