WordPress is a popular open-source Content Management System (CMS) for building impressive, easy to manage, modern websites. You may have noticed that when you log into your WordPress dashboard, it tells you which WordPress software version you are running and whether or not you are able to update it. You’ll also notice that sometimes a refresh icon is displayed in your header menu that alerts you to how many updates are available for the plugins and themes that you have installed on your WordPress website. But are updates to WordPress, themes, and plugins important, do you really need to do them, and are they free?
Three Main Updates
Your WordPress website has 3 main parts that will require updating. These are:
- The WordPress application itself
- Your Plugins
- Your Theme
It is important to keep all of these things up to date to prevent security threats and incompatibility issues – we will discuss these issues in full, below. Before you update, though, remember to back-up your current website and all of its data, just in case the update gets interrupted, or something goes wrong during the update process.
Security and Bug Fixes
In order to protect your website from the latest security threats and bugs, you need to make sure that you are continually updating WordPress as new versions are released. The current version of WordPress (as of 12/04/15) is version 4.1.1 – so if your website isn’t running this version, you’ll want to backup and update as soon as possible.
Plugins can also be susceptible to hacker attacks if you are not running the latest version. Plugin updates will contain security fixes to protect your website from malicious hackers and bugs.
If you are not running the latest versions of plugins, software and themes, then these different components can run into conflict with each other and result in plugins and features not functioning properly.
When installing new plugins, it is worth checking that the current version of the plugin has been tested with the version of WordPress you are running. For example, if you install an old plugin that was developed a while ago for an older version of WordPress, it may not work properly with newer versions – always check the release date and update information when installing new plugins to make sure they will be compatible with your theme and WordPress version.
Major updates to the WordPress application will contain new and enhanced features which can improve the user interface (UI), and help you to design, build and manage your website more easily. Recent updates in version 4.1 include
- Inline image editing – Users are now able to click on an image and instantly see alignment options, along with a button to remove alignment. This makes the alignment process much quicker than having to go into the full image editor mode (still accessible using the pencil icon)
- A refined ‘distraction free writing mode’ function – enables users to more easily switch back-and-forth between normal writing mode and the distraction free editor.
- Install language packs from admin area – This is a development to the new languages feature that was released with version 4.0. In the latest version, users can select and install language packs from the dropdown menu in the general settings area.
- Improvements for developers – WordPress has released a few new features for developers to get their teeth in to, including:
- Queries have been rewritten to improve meta, date, comment, and taxonomy queries.
- Theme title tags allow WordPress theme developers to define a specific title for a website without it conflicting with standard the WordPress title tags.
Here at Complete Marketing Solutions, we build and manage WordPress websites for clients in North Devon and across the UK. We always aim to ensure that all sites managed by ourselves will be continually updated to run the latest versions of WordPress software, themes and plugins.