April 24, 2020

How do you maintain a new WordPress website?

How ToMaintenance

the website architect

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maintain website dashboard

Maintaining a website can seem overwhelming because of all the buttons WordPress throws at you. Fortunately, upkeep on your website is very simple and doesn’t require a lot of attention. Let’s go over some simple areas of your website that should be looked at every 2-3 weeks.

Updating Your WordPress Plugins

A WordPress plugin can release an update for many reasons like new features, optimization, bug fixes, or security. A WordPress site can usually have around 5-30 plugins installed at any given time.

Updating plugins is the most important thing you can do when it comes to security and protecting your website from hackers. Because WordPress is the most popular flat-form for managing websites, this means it has a focus to try to find an exploit in the hacker world.

Before You Update Your Plugins!

Updating plugins sounds great so far, but there is a more complicated side to the topic. Updating a plugin may break your website or intended plugin functionality. You have to remember that plugins are not formally vetted by WordPress or any higher power for possible errors or bugs. Plugins are updated and published by WordPress users just like you and I. Because there’s no formal system in place when it comes to plugin updates, the plugin author may have missed something in their code, or have unintentionally broken something unknowingly after updating a part of the plugin’s code.

So should you even update them? Warnings aside, yes you should be updating your WordPress plugins. Odds are the plugins you have on your site are made by experienced professionals who know what they’re doing while updating a plugin and consider strongly how every change they make can affect something else. 95% of the time it is perfectly okay to update your plugins.

But what about the 5%? To protect yourself against that 5% of plugins that may have a negative effect on your site, you should always back up your site before updating a major update for a plugin. Here’s a quick list of some plugins for backing up your website:

  1. All In One WP Migration – My favourite. Free, and easy to download your backup to the site or download locally.
  2. BackWPUp – Free plugin, tons of options for scheduling and sending to remote locations like DropBox or FTP.
  3. Duplicator – Pro version can be used for scheduling backups. Free version for duplicating the site quickly.
  4. BackupBuddy – Paid plugin. Great for scheduling backups automatically.

Lastly, there is one plugin that you should think twice about updating it as soon as you see you can; WooCommerce. WooCommerce is the plugin that allows you to set up products and payments on your website. If you have it, its the most important plugin on your site considering it handles all your product sales and inventory. Because it’s so vital, I would recommend waiting a week or two after the update comes out and then begin to do some research on if the new plugin version is stable enough for you to update yourself. If you are eager to update it, consider backing up before you do.

How To Update Your WordPress Plugins

Updating your plugins is very easy. Simply;

  1. Sign in to your WordPress admin back-end
  2. On the left side menu, Find and Click “Plugins”
  3. The plugins that have updates will be highlighted in yellow, simply click the update button for each plugin that requires one.

Clearing Cache

Odds are if you created a website with The Website Architect your website has speed optimization measures put in place. One of the aspects to speed optimization is utilizing browser Caching.

What Is Caching & How It Works

How caching works is simple. When you go to a website that has caching put into place, it downloads the website files to your computer. The idea is when you go that website again or even navigate through its different pages, it uses the downloaded files on your computer instead of downloading them again from the website server. The benefit here is that loading the website files from your computer (locally) is much faster than re-downloading in the files from the server again (remotely), thus creating a speed improvement.

There are different kinds of caching, like site caching, browser caching, and server caching. The kind explained above is browser caching, but the others all have the same benefit.

When your browser or server is keeping these cached files on-hand, they begin to build up and collect. This means that periodically, the cache needs to be cleared to make way for updated content and newly optimized files.

Sometimes plugins like AutoOptimize emails you when your cache begins to fill up, which can be helpful. If you do get a message like that, fear not. Clearing the cache is simple.

how to clear cache in wordpress
Clearing the cache in WordPress with 3 different Plugins

How To Clear The Cache

To clear the cache is very simple. The cache is most likely being handled by a WordPress plugin and the plugins usually provide a convenient button at the top when you signed in the back-end in the top panel like in the screenshots above.

Next, click delete or purge cache to clear the cache, making room for more updated files to be cached.

Comments & Spam

If you have comments enabled on your website one issue you may run into is spam or unwanted comments. Comments are great to have but they need to be curated and maintained if you want the best positive image for your site.

How to Update, Delete, and Manage WordPress Comments

WordPress makes it very simple to edit the comments on your website. Simply log into your website back-end and on the left side menu find and click “Comments”.

wordpress comments manager

This will open a list of all the comments you have on your site as similar to as shown above. Hover over the comment/list item to make visible the delete and mark as spam buttons. You can also learn more about WordPress comments

Automatically Filter Spam

WordPress has countless plugins to help fight spam from bots. Here are some to get you started

  • Akismet – A plugin that comes pre-installed with WordPress. Clean, Trusted, and an easy plugin.
  • Antispam Bee – Simple to set up and with the benefit of statistical data
  • WP-SpamShield – Great plugin for integration. Works with Gravity Forms, WooCommerce, and Contact Form 7.

Updating WordPress itself, And Your Theme

Updating WordPress

Updating WordPress is very important if you want to keep your website secure. WordPress updates don’t come often, so when they do they are jam-packed with new features, updates, and patches that help make your site secure from the latest hacks and exploits that have been documented.

updating wordpress in website dashboard

When WordPress needs updating it will appear as an orange notification (1) in the Dashboard side menu item under “Updates” when you logged in to your website back-end (as shown above).

Before you update WordPress you should make a backup first. Usually, WordPress updates without any problems but sometimes things do go wrong so backing up keeps you from having a site with potentially broken features.

Updating Your Theme

When your theme releases an update it will also be located in the same place as the WordPress updates, in the Dashboard > Updates section in the left side menu.

But should you update it? The simple answer is no, no you should not update your WordPress theme. When The Website Architect creates websites for its clients, we often customize the theme’s code files for added functionality or to get something exactly as the client wants it. When you update the theme, this overwrites the files that were edited effectively undoing any work that done customizing the theme.

Is there anything good about updating a theme? Yes – theme updates can bring bug fixes, and tweaks. But it’s not worth the risk of updating a theme to potentially lose the customization that has been done on your website.

Even if a new theme says it fixes a certain part of the theme, we would already know if a theme has something broken about it. Considering we make websites carefully and test each function or aspect of a website, a broken feature would be very obvious during the development of the website therefore we would have fixed any kind of issue that may come up on our own.

Conclusion

In conclusion, your WordPress site doesn’t require that much upkeep. Make lots of backups, safely update your plugins, clear the cache, and you’ll be okay. For any Website updates that you think are a bit out of your capabilities, contact us today.

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I'm The Website Architect, just another web developer in Toronto, Canada. I'm passionate about Web Design, WordPress, and anything to do with websites. My goal is to make the Internet a more beautiful and usable place, one design choice and website at a time.