I see so many WordPress Websites that have ‘broken’ or had all sorts of problems after installing updates. Every Website that I see that experiences these issues has had something done that goes against best-practice or is a result of really bad Web design or development.
It is absolutely necessary for functionality and security reasons to apply updates so here are some guidelines to help in avoiding WordPress update errors.
Only use well coded Plugins & Themes Only
Only ever install Plugins and Themes listed at wordpress.org. Make sure that the Plugin or Theme is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and that reviews are good. For example, using a commercial WordPress Theme by a developer not listed on wordpress.org in the commercial Themes section, holds a far higher risk of problems than using a Theme from a seller listed on wordpress.org.
But what about Plugins that aren’t free (wordpress.org only lists free Plugins)? Well, almost all good Plugins for which you need to pay, there is a free version available at wordpress.org (examples include S2Member membership Plugin and Events Manager for displaying, booking and payment of events).
Don’t make code or style changes (unless you know what you’re doing)
You really need to know what you’re doing if you’re making changes directly to files in Plugins, Themes or WordPress itself. If you make changes to code you really muat be sure of where it is best to make the changes e.g. often, with hooks, you can make changes via a custom functions.php file (and the custom functions.php won’t be overwritten with updates).
Listen to your WordPress developer
Ultimately a Web developer needs to deliver what is agreed with the client. Problems come in if the client insists in knowing better than the developer particularly with technical issues. I have encountered clients who insist on doing something a certain way because their ‘friend’ said this must be done; in these cases no matter how much evidence is given to the client that their way is a really bad idea, the client insists on their solution. Once the Website has problems because the client refused to listen to the developer it’s too late. Please listen to what the developer has to say. A developer isn’t always right but a good developer won’t want any Websites he/she has built to have problems.
Avoid low budget WordPress developers
This is a broad generalisation but quality takes time and money. Good WordPress developers charge alot for good reason; they save you time and money in the long run.
As an example, the quickest way to make a style change with CSS is to add the necessary script to the active Theme style.css file. The problem with this is that on the next Theme update the amended style.css file will be replaced therefore all changes will be lost. A good, but more expensive WordPress developer will use a means of adding the script that won’t be lost upon update (but this takes more time and skill hence the higher cost of the developer).
Following the tips above will greatly reduce the chance of problems with your Website. Please contact me if you need WordPress advice or guidance.