Keeping your WordPress website fully functional, secure, safe and as speedy as possible is really pretty simple. It's about keeping an eye on the following 4 things.

-WordPress Core Version Updates
-PHP Version Updates
-Plug-in Compatibility
-Theme Compatibility

Now, most theme developers are on top of any WordPress Core Releases. That's their main job, other than adding features to their themes. When you see a Theme update from the backend of your WordPress website, it's your Theme Developer doing one of two things (telling you that their getting ready to be compatible with the next upcoming WP Core version, or telling you that they've added new features to the theme that may enhance your experience as a content manager / designer).

Same goes for Plug-in updates, but Plug-in updates are more critical than Theme updates, mainly because Plug-ins can conflict with one another, and they can conflict with themes. This is magnified when a WordPress Core version or PHP version is updated.

For example, Core versions can get updated and plug-ins left behind, or Plug-ins can get updated and Core versions left behind. Both are common, but the latter is the cause of many clients coming to Data Driven Design to fix their issues on their WordPress sites.

WordPress Core and PHP version updates shouldn't annoy you, business owners and marketers. They're a good thing. They're free, open source software always getting better, more secure and more efficient. Some, like the 5.5.1 WP Core update, the latest as of this writing, are maintenance releases, coming a week or so after major releases, like WordPress 5.5.

The WordPress 5.5 Launch Means more features have been added to core themes, such as features like automatic updates for plugins and themes, enabling updates over uploaded ZIP files, a block directory, XML sitemaps, block patterns, inline image editing, and lazy-loading images, to name a few.

In the meantime, the latest PHP version is 7.4, although many websites are still running earlier versions, which may cause issues. However, if you're running 7.3 (anything in the 7s really) as of this writing, your site is likely fully functional, but not all of the most recent plug-in updates may work, which means you should look to upgrade PHP in order to get the best use of your website and all of the functionality and reliability available via WordPress plug-ins.

Why Should My Business Care About All Of This?

Blogs like this are important for a simple business reason. Either you're a business owner or a marketer of some sort, which means you're responsible for the content and functionality of your website.

You may or may not have an IT team or webmaster. If you do, send them this blog. If you don't, it's fine. You can do this yourself or contact me and we can help.

You need to monitor this because if you don't, your website will break. Not necessarily go down or crash, but you may stop receiving form submissions/leads, you may not be able to update content in certain sections of your site, etc.

What Should I Do?

The video / audio accompanying this post walks you through recommended steps to ensure your:

-WordPress Core version is up to date,
-your PHP version is up to date,
-that you're using Plug-ins that have been tested with those versions,
-and that you've updated your plug-ins to their most recent versions.

Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC and founder of The Voice Event, and The Voice Designer, has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 15 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing, Email Marketing and most recently, Voice App Design and Development – Alexa Skills and Google Actions. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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