WordPress is my favorite website platform to use for my own business and for my clients. When built correctly it provides you with a solid foundation for your website that can easily grow and evolve with your business. Pairing WordPress with the Beaver Builder page builder makes the sites I build easy to update and manage.
However, even with a simple setup, after launching a WordPress website, it’s important to stay up to date with the recommended maintenance to keep things running smoothly.
Today I’ll walk you through the recommended steps to take and the frequency to take them to keep up with your WordPress maintenance tasks.
Many of my clients sign up for a Website Care Plan so they don’t have to worry about these steps each month and have the security of a 24/7 website management team at their fingertips. My team is pretty thorough and proactive, so we actually complete the following steps weekly (vs monthly) for my clients.
But if you’re doing your own website maintenance, logging in one to two times a month to complete this checklist is a good frequency.
Each month when you sit down to complete your website maintenance, refer back to this list to keep things running smoothly:
1. Check for and perform plugin updates.
Plugins are software that’s installed on your WordPress website to increase or advance the functionality of your site. I like to keep plugins to a minimum on the websites I build, typically sticking to those in the Beaver Builder family.
To check for plugin updates you’ll go to your WordPress Dashboard and click Updates on the left hand side. You’ll see a number next to Updates that will give you a preview of how many updates need your attention. These include plugins, themes and WordPress itself.
To update your plugins, you’ll click the checkbox next to the desired plugin and click Update.
Before doing any updates, be sure you have a recent backup of your website to allow you to roll back to the previous version if something goes wrong with the update.
With that being said, I recommend updating your plugins one by one to ensure everything on your website is running smoothly after the update. Occasionally there will be a hiccup with the update and you’ll need to revert back to a previous plugin version to fix the issue. By updating your plugins one by one, you’ll always know which plugin update caused the issue and can pinpoint and troubleshoot the issue quicker than if you did a mass update.
2. Check for and perform theme updates.
Next up, you’ll want to walk through those same steps for your theme. Typically your theme dictates the layout and overall design of your website. Your theme allows you to customize the style of your website including headings, text, buttons, colors and more
I build all of my websites with the Beaver Builder parent and child theme. Having a child theme allows you to safely modify your theme without actually changing the parent theme files.
Here you’ll want to create a new backup and then click update. Be sure to check your website before and after the update to make sure everything is running smoothly after updating.
3. Check for and perform WordPress updates.
Lastly, you’ll want to check for and perform updates to WordPress itself. Throughout the year, WordPress will release new versions of their software requiring updates. Some of these grant new functionality and others patch security issues or bugs from previous versions.
Here you’ll perform a backup of your website and then click update under WordPress.
A quick note on auto-updates: Recently there has been a big push from WordPress and hosting companies alike to set up automatic updates for your plugins, themes, and WordPress itself. While their intentions are good here it’s not recommended. What would happen if your website makes an update at 4 pm on a Friday and you don’t realize it’s broken until the next time you check your website Monday morning? Updates are important but quality checks are just as important.
4. Perform a quality check on your website.
Once all of your updates are made, you’ll want to do a thorough quality check of your website to make sure everything is working properly paying close attention to any features that were updated in the previous steps.
5. Run a recent backup and save to the cloud.
A quality hosting service should be running backups of your website every week, if not every day. However, it’s a good idea to also run a backup of your website and save to the cloud outside of your host. This will allow you to restore your website to a new host if your host ever crashes or goes down.
UpdraftPlus is a free plugin you can install on your website and set up a schedule to run regular backups and save to DropBox or Google Drive. However, once a month you should verify the backups are running as scheduled and saving to the proper location.
Stopping here will cover the basics when it comes to your website maintenance. However, there are a few more steps you might want to include:
- Website Cleanup: Remove any unused plugins, themes, or media files. Remove drafted pages and posts and delete spam comments.
- Test Forms: Send yourself a message via your contact or inquiry page and subscribe to your email list to ensure they’re in working condition.
- Check Google Analytics and Google Search Console: How’s your traffic acquisition and search performance? Use this data to adjust your website strategy accordingly.
It’s important to remember our websites are our digital homes and just as our physical homes require upkeep so do our websites. As a website designer, it’s important for me to teach my clients how to manage their sites with ease so they feel comfortable and confident moving forward. However, for those clients who don’t have the time or desire to perform these tasks, they’re always invited to sign up for one of my website care plans.