As with all technology, the software that creates your website is constantly being updated. Your website is constructed from multiple different systems that control all the functionality of the website. These are often updated for fixes, improvements, and to keep up to date with latest browsers and mobile devices. Some software may release multiple updates a month, some maybe once a year. Your site is generally composed of 3 main parts that need regular updates:
- Core System – This is the main system your site is built on (usually most sites I make are in WordPress). They average a new release every other month or so. This updates the core framework or skeleton of the site.
- Theme – This controls the overall design and style of your site. It controls the way things are laid out and how the site looks; it’s sort of the skin/appearance/wardrobe of the site if you will. Updates vary, and can sometimes be months until an update, sometimes it can be every time the core system is updated. Occasionally, themes release major upgrades to help keep sites up to date with latest design and functionality trends. These can cause some major changes in your website requiring some additional attention/work to make adjustments to make sure everything looks and works well.
- Plugins – Depending on how many add-ons your site has, you could have anywhere from 10 to 40 or so plugins. Plug ins can include shopping carts, credit card payments, shipping calculators, membership systems, YouTube galleries, security systems, social media integrations, and much more. Plugins vary widely in how often they are updated, but many can be on a semi-regular basis. These control all the different bells and whistles you might have on your web site.
The tricky thing here is that occasionally (about 5%-10% of the time) you run into minor conflicts that can cause minor things to not work properly. The plugins and themes are made by different companies so once in awhile, some plug ins clash with others. When this happens, it can take a bit of work to figure out where the problem is and how best to address it. It may require going back to a backup before updates, it may require finding a different plugin to do the job, or removing something altogether.
Generally, site updates are a smooth process and take anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes depending on the complexity of your site. It’s also good to do a site review, clicking around and testing things to make sure nothing has broken. However, 5-10% something might go wrong and take additional time to troubleshoot. This can range from a quick fix, to many hours depending on the issue.
How often to update? That’s a topic of much debate. Some like to be on the forefront and be secure and do updates as soon as they come out. However, you run the risk of being the first to deal with any bugs that come up from a new release. Also, you end up spending a lot of time running updates and testing this way. Some go with the model “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, however you run into the problem of site issues going unnoticed, which can cause you to potentially lose business. I’ve found that doing a site scan and update every 2 to 4 months is ideal, and to address any bug or issue that pops up in the interim. Big sites with a lot of business might benefit from a 2 month schedule. Smaller sites not doing as much business and with smaller budgets might find spacing them out makes more sense.
The Best Plan:
We offer a set schedule so that we set our calendars to go in and do your updates on a regular set time frame and send you an invoice for the work. This makes it easier for us both. Running updates, doing the site testing, and fixing anything is done at our hourly rate. Contact us to setup your update schedule.