In short, yes. It is crucial that you keep your website up to date. In 2017 WordPress released 21 separate updates for its platform, in 2016 – 27. That’s quite a number! See https://wordpress.org/news/category/releases/ .
The platform is developed by a large developer community and as such is being constantly enhanced with new features, bug fixes, security updates, technological advances. The WP team are constantly striving to keep the content management system as the most popular in the world.
Stats courtesy of www.pixelmattic.com
Lets look a little deeper at the key reasons why your site should be kept up to date.
WordPress major releases include core enhancements, with new features and usability improvements. These will allow the site owner to work quicker, smarter and also add improvements to the front end.
Google place great weight on the speed of a website. Tweaking load speeds, especially on mobile devices will help your websites ability to rank. WordPress endeavour to make the platform run faster through fine tuning its performance. Each release is packed with enhancements which will improve load time and user experience.
All forms of software are thoroughly assessed before release but despite undergoing meticulous testing there are inevitably coding bugs that slip through. To counter this, software developers release incremental fixes and WordPress is no different. Keeping up to date will prevent these bugs effecting your site.
WordPress is a modular system that is enhanced by adding Plug-ins and themes (pre-designed layouts) to the core which allows site owners to grow a site naturally and effortlessly with new or improved functionality or design. Each new WP release usually comes with a flurry of activity from plug-in developers making use of new improvements so that they can enhance their product offering. WP updates can therefore break plug-ins or themes whose coding does not meet the new criteria.
Last, but by no means least. It is incredibly important to keep your website secure to prevent any form of cyber attack. An attack can cause damage to your website and create havoc within the site structure, functionality or display. It can even take the whole of your website down.
WordPress is an Open Source platform which means that all of its code is free for anyone to access and learn. This grants creative freedom to WP’s huge community to input in many many ways and allow the platform to grow and develop naturally. Unfortunately, this access also allows hackers to look at the code as well which creates threat. As the most popular CMS in the world WP attracts malicious bodies looking to utilise any opening they can find. However, because of the size of the community there are a large number of people constantly looking to fix any loopholes as quickly as they are found. At that point a WordPress update is released to remove vulnerability.
You can update WP yourself although you may require some help..
Updating for a small release is a straight forward process where you press a button in the back end of the site. Before you go gung-ho on the button, however, please note it is essential that the site files and database are backed up. This can be done via a plug-in which allows you to back up to your desktop or this can be done for you by the incumbent hosting provider. Any update can effect your website so if there are any issues with the upgrade you can then roll back.
Updating for major releases can create a lot of problems on your site with compatibility of plug-ins and even themes. We would recommend that this is carried out by your web agency.
All updates have the potential to effect your site and any plug-ins. If you are competent in dealing with site files and back ups etc you can do this yourself. However, because of the many possible complications we offer a managed updates service. If you would prefer to ask us to keep your site up to date then please contact us to discuss further.