WordPress is a phenomenal web development platform. The fact that 19.3% of all websites run on WordPress is proof of that. The internet is such a pervasive element in our lives today, however, that there are many steps that must be taken to insure that your web presence is not only up to date and running with the newest and latest features, but also remains safe and secure from those that might want to bring it all crashing down. A monthly maintenance plan from your web developer/designer can make sure that your website remains up to date and secure, while continuing to run smoothly throughout the process.
The recent release of WordPress 3.6 is a great example of the need for ongoing monthly maintenance of any WordPress powered website. WordPress 3.6 includes a number of bug and security fixes, as well as an improved Revisions system (making it easier to manage different versions of Pages and Posts and even roll back to an earlier version if necessary), and improved Dashboard interface, native support for audio and video embedding to name the most prominent features. And while typically upgrading to the latest version of WordPress is a simple button click, this is one of those times where unforeseen issues can occur.
Most of the problems with the new version of WordPress center around some jQuery code that checks to make sure you have a compatible version of jQuery running on your platform. Similar in nature to the dreaded “Y2K” issue where only the last 2 numbers of a date were used, many plugin developers used a version of this code that dropped the trailing digit in the version number when performing the check. So the code checks if you have version 1.5 or higher for example, and if you have 1.5, 1.52, 1.73, etc. it passes and everything runs as normal. WordPress 3.6 uses the latest version of jQuery which is 1.10.1. The jQuery code in one or more plugins that is doing the version checking is reading this as 1.1 (as it is dropping the trailing digits) and therefore not allowing the rest of the code to run properly. This has caused a number of problems for many websites as people that are managing their own WordPress installations are running into this problem have no idea how to handle it or correct it. Worst of all, many of them do not have adequate backups to restore until the plugin developers correct their older code. There are some general quick fixes to the issue but they do not cover every situation.
The point here is that having a trained web developer that can handle Theme, Plugin and WordPress upgrades and any potential problems that might occur as a result is invaluable to anyone that needs their website up-time maximized so that visitors/customers can connect with them at any time. At eGriffin Web Design, 60% of our clients have been successfully upgraded to WordPress 3.6, while the other 40% we are working with plugin developers to correct issues and will upgrade when the time is appropriate. Our customers have not had to deal with any of the issues as we have handled them for them, and their websites have continued to run as normal throughout the process. Typically we review every upgrade (WordPress, Theme and Plugin) to see what has changed and determine in advance if there are any likely issues. If there are likely issues, we find the solutions to ahead of time so that any impact to our clients’ websites is minimal. If there are not any likely problems, we proceed with the upgrade and then test everything to make sure there are no issues. And we ALWAYS make a backup before upgrading anything so that we can restore a client’s site as quickly as possible in a worst case scenario. This kind of expertise has real value to our clients, and gives them peace of mind that their website is maintained effectively and professionally.
Normally, an upgrade to WordPress, and/or its Themes and Plugins is a relatively painless process that involves clicking a few buttons and running a few tests to make sure that everything is okay. But when it doesn’t go smoothly it can be a real nightmare, and result in significant downtime for your website and a poor experience for your visitors. Having a successful website means maintaining it on a regular basis, in a way that optimizes performance and security while minimizing downtime.