WordPress websites are made up of so many different elements and they are all designed and created by different companies, technologies and as time goes on, different versions of all of these. Keeping your website up to date can be a daunting task for a small business owner if your job is to deliver your service or product rather than be a web expert.
When I was introduced to Sarah of The Upholstery Artist (UK) it was because she was having issues with her Google Business page listing. After digging around it became clear that many elements of her website were out of date. Security and version issues here were causing problems with her Google Business page. Once my proposal was approved I set about the following:
- Hosting – if you signed up for a hosting package a few years ago I would highly recommend that you checkin with your hosting company. You may be paying a higher amount for an older package. An older package may mean: you have less disk space (or are charged extra for going over your usage), your content is hosted on an older server (making your website load slowly) as well as old versions of PHP or database problems.
- An old version of PHP – in this case the version was 5.3 and because it was on an old server the package could only be updated to version 5.6. WordPress, for security reasons, requires you to update to 7+. Some hosting companies have pushed this update automatically (causing websites to break if the software for themes and plugins are not updated first) or they leave it up to you.. and if you don’t do it then you begin running into issues with themes and plugins breaking your website (read on…)
- A new database – the old hosting could not create a new database which was required for the new version of the website. We had to upgrade hosting to resolve all of the above issues.
- A new theme – the old theme would not work on the new hosting so I added and designed a new theme that would look and feel similarly to the old version for the sake of keeping within branding and CI guidelines, with a few modern touches.
- An SSL certificate was purchased and linked to the new hosting. The means the website is now secure and is served up with https and Chrome shows the “secure” padlock.
- New plugins – the old plugins were removed and replaced and additional security and tracking plugins were added.
The importance of updating plugins:
Today’s rich Internet experience is only possible because of functionality plugins. Some plugins work independently of your website’s content and files, just adding a little something special to the page. Others require modification of content and files, including changes to your database. Plugins may need upgrading to accommodate the newer version, or become obsolete with the improvements in the website software. Some upgrades require a new license or an existing license to be renewed while others need to be removed as they are no longer supported by the developer and a suitable replacement must be found.
Additionally hacking is a growing concern for online businesses. As attacks adapt and become ever more sophisticated by the day, it is more important than ever to take measures to protect your website against hidden viruses and malicious software.
Fortunately existing content was pulled through and the only additional work I did was on-page SEO to assist with the organic search results. I create a sitemap and added it to Sarah’s newly created Google Search Console so that her website could be re-indexed. I linked this up using Google’s own new WordPress plugin so that Sarah can view her page views directly from her WordPress Dashboard.
After working with the hosting company to resolve all the issues and deploying the new version of the website, I was able to assist with the Google Business page and get everything listed as requested.
Finally an in-depth and personalised handover document was created including all logins, passwords, links to theme, plugins and tutorials for the new version of the website.
Jo is very helpful, friendly and efficient. She has done a great job sorting out issues with my website and I will continue to use her services going forward. – Sarah Whiffen