A common misconception of using WordPress for your website is it requires a lot of maintenance.
I can’t speak of other platforms as I’ve been WordPress loyal since day one… but I can speak on the maintenance requirements everyone speaks of.
In reality, maintaining your WordPress website is quite simple.
In fact, the majority of my clients who self-identify with being non-techy handle their maintenance all on their own.
I’m a web designer that doesn’t try to scare my clients out of working on their own websites after we launch. I grant them the knowledge and know-how to manage their sites all on their own. If they hire me for support after launching I want it to be because they choose not to do it themselves rather than them feeling lost or intimidated.
So today in this article, I want to provide you with the same information I share with my clients after they launch.
Step 1: Set a monthly reminder to perform these monthly maintenance tasks.
I recommend these tasks to be completed no less than once a month. While I’ve recently hired these tasks out for my own website maintenance, prior to doing so I performed them every week or so. But once a month should suffice for you.
Step 2: Always run a full backup of your website before performing updates.
It’s wise to get in the habit of running a full backup of your site BEFORE making any updates or performing any maintenance tasks. I love UpdraftPlus for backups and while they’re set to run weekly on their own, I always run a manual backup before any updates to my site.
You’ll also want to make sure these files are stored outside of your website. UpdraftPlus gives you the option to download the backup files to your computer manually or have them automatically get sent to an external storage source of your choosing.
The reason you want these stored someplace other than your WordPress dashboard is if one of these updates crashes your site, you won’t be able to access the backup files.
Most web hosts also have the ability to run scheduled and manual backups, however, I like the backup (no pun intended lol) of having it outside of my host and website.
Step 3: Update your plugins.
Now on to the actual updates! If you have a number of updates to be made on your site, I recommend updating your plugins first.
Here’s a short tutorial on updating plugins. But essentially (after completing your backup) you’ll follow these steps:
- Go to Plugins in your WordPress dashboard
- Under the plugin that needs updating click “View version details” and quickly review
- Go back to the Plugins screen and click “Update Now”
- Wait until your screen says the plugin has been updated successfully
- Test your site by clicking on different pages and links to verify everything is working as it should
- If your plugin granted specific functionality be sure to check that functionality and the features of that plugin still work as it should
- Repeat the above steps for each plugin that needs updating
Step 4: Update your theme.
Quick side note: you should only have the theme you’re actually using on your website. Many clients of mine have multiple themes sitting on the backend of their website. This is unnecessary and you should only have the theme you’re using for your current website installed and active.
I use the Beaver Builder Parent and Child Theme for this site and all of my clients’ sites. It’s essentially a lightweight framework that grants you the ability to build anything you want.
To update your theme you’ll follow these steps:
- Go to Dashboard and then Updates then Themes in your WordPress dashboard
- At the top of the theme that needs updating you’ll see “New version available.” with a link to update
- Click the “Update now” link
- Wait until it prompts you the theme has been updated
- Test your site by clicking on different pages and links to verify everything is working as it was prior to the update
Step 5: Update WordPress
Every so often WordPress itself will release a new version. The reason for these updates will vary from new features, bug fixes, and security patches.
I like to wait a bit when WordPress releases a large update. Usually, there are some bugs in that first release and I tend to wait until it’s patched up and an update to the update is ready.
But as long as you perform a backup, you’ll be safe to update your version of WordPress at any time.
There are some hosts that will automatically update your WordPress version for you, but if you’ll be doing it manually, you’ll want to follow these steps:
- Go to your WordPress dashboard, click Dashboard and then Updates
- If there is an update ready for you, you’ll see “An updated version of WordPress is available.”
- Click the “Update Now” button below that link
- Wait until your site runs the update and you’re prompted it was successful
- Test your site thoroughly to ensure everything is working as it should
Most of the time, after the update has completed, you’ll be redirected to a page that shares all the details from the latest update. It’s a good idea to get in the habit of reviewing this page in-depth in case they’ve changed any features or functionality you regularly use.
Step 6: Declutter your website.
While this step isn’t technically required it’s good practice. While you’re in your website performing these regular updates it’s a good idea to take some time to tidy up your website.
Do you have any drafts that need to be deleted under Posts? Do you have any comments that need responses? Is there any spam that needs to be filtered out?
It’s important to remember our websites are our digital home and just as our physical homes do, our websites require routine maintenance and care.
Questions on any of the above? Pop them below, I’d love to provide you with any additional clarity you might need.