Is it worth to use the latest technologies (via WordPress updates example)
The world is changing every moment and nothing stands still. Technologies are moving forward, and today’s innovation turns quickly into a common thing. People like new features. They want to test them, to see how their functionality works.
Sometimes, innovations bring joy, but sometimes behind the updates may stand not entirely pleasant things, such as bugs.
Many of you heard about Wordpress, this is a true leader among modern free CMSs. It offers limitless possibilities to create different projects, from simple landing pages and business cards to commercial solutions. Of course, it is hard to imagine Wordpress without the necessary plug-ins, because they systemize and extend the functionality of any website.
You may have noticed that Wordpress upgrades appear quite frequently via bright notifications in your admin panel. Thus, a logical question may occur: to upgrade or not to upgrade? What will be caused by these new features: convenience or problems? Let's try to consider the good and bad sides of these simple actions.
Wordpress is a popular system, and, therefore, popular to hackers. So the security issue must be quite important in here. Last year wasn’t easy for Wordpress plugins in a spate of security issues. Dozens of plugins including Jetpack, Easy Digital Downloads, and Gravity Forms were affected by scripting (XSS) vulnerability.
As it was mentioned on WPBeginner, 83% of hacked WordPress sites hadn’t been updated. According to page.ly’s stats, WordPress sites are frequently hacked due to “outdated versions of PHP, WordPress, themes, or plugins”.
Usually, hackers are watching the release notes. As soon as they detect a vulnerability, they start exploiting it. That’s why experts strongly recommend installing all the necessary updates. Also, WordPress specialists advice to monitor the number of plug-ins and delete inactive once. A deactivated plugin is still present on your site, thus, it can be exploited as a security weakness. The same can be said for WordPress themes.
However, it’s not only about installing a plugin. You are always installing a piece of functionality and, for sure, you would like it to be stable in the future. Some plugins may be poorly coded, thus, they can leave behind a footprint after installation which is difficult to remove. Therefore, it is useful to pay attention to the following key items while installing a new plugin:
· Number of downloads
· Evidence of active support
Also, updates may become some kind of a key for performance improving. For example, WordPress 4.1 included revisions to complex queries to improve the site performance, and WordPress 3.9 included updates for the TinyMCE performance. Plugins also get improvements to run more efficiently and speed up queries or scripts.
Sometimes you may face with bugs ‘from the box’ on your website, and they can be fixed within updates. As in the case with any software, users may report developers about problems; either authors may discover them by themselves. Then they push out updates to address those fixes, as well as potentially adding new features.
Oh, yes, features… Updates Can Introduce New one! For example, recent WordPress releases have included accessibility improvements and big changes to the admin UX. The same is for plugins - keeping things up to date gives you an opportunity to check to the latest goodies.
But there is another side of the coin - updates may cause errors and sometimes they can be very painful, especially if we talk about active business.
Plugin bugs may occur after you have installed/updated it, or after you have updated the whole WordPress.
Errors may be caused by following issues:
· Bad Coding – A poorly coded plugin will cause problems regardless of what theme and plugins you are using.
· Conflict with Wordpress – Plugin code can be incompatible with the code used in the WordPress core files. Due to this, most plugin developers update their plugins after every new version of CMS in order to be sure that their plugin is still compatible. Unfortunately, many plugin developers do not do this, which is why you need to be extra careful when installing older plugins.
· Conflict with Another Plugin – Plugins do not always play nicely together, particularly when the plugins offer similar functionality.
· Conflict with active theme – Many theme functions are placed in the theme’s functions.php file. The principle of extending a theme’s functionality using functions is the same as adding functionality through a plugin. Usually, such problem may occur if it is coded badly or if it conflicts with another plugin.
However, errors can affect Wordpress in different ways. In a best case, the plugin will simply show an error message in your admin area. Otherwise, the plugin functioning will stop in the way it should (e.g. not displaying the widget correctly). In such situation, you may also face errors being displayed on your live website, which can present an unprofessional image of your business.
The worse situation when you will see the white screen of death. If this occurs in the admin panel, this blank screen will prevent you from administrating a website. If you are really unlucky, the white screen of death may also be displayed on your live website.
As it was mentioned before, whenever you install a WordPress plugin, you are adding an additional code to your website. If you do not code yourself, you will be unable to check plugins quality. This does not mean that you should just install plugins blindly on your website.
You always can check the reviews and comments by other WordPress users. You can take this further and test all new plugins in a test WordPress installation. This may seem like a painful job, but it really helps to prevent any unwanted surprises on your live website.
In summary, it can be argued that the upgrade - a thing necessary and recommended. However, this is not always that useful. If you are a good programmer and you built a website by your own, you can calmly regularly update plugins and a theme. Thus, unexpected errors won’t make you feel confused.
If you are familiar with Wordpress only through the admin panel, we strongly recommend contacting the experts and consulting before updating plugins or themes. Unfortunately, 1-click can cause a lot of problems and bring your site down. And if we are talking about an active business, such things can cost a lot of money.
In any case, you can contact us! Our experts will carefully examine your problem and advise you what to do with plugins updates. However, if this process is complex for a user, we help you to implement the new code safe and painless.