I woke up this morning to an urgent message from a client — in fact, that was the subject line: “URGENT!” Her ecommerce categories weren’t working properly.
A problem like this can stem from any number of issues, but as soon as I got into her website I could see that she hadn’t updated to the most recent version of WordPress. I took care of that first — and it solved the problem.
This is a client for whom we built a website, not an ongoing website management client. For our management clients, we take care of updates. Updates usually address problems and security issues, so updating in WordPress is generally a good thing.
It’s easy to do — nearly always, you simply back up your site and then click on the button marked “update.” When you manage your own site, though, it isn’t always a good plan to automatically update everything.
For example, if you have a customized theme, you should never update your theme. Your customizations will probably be lost or at the very least messed up.
Plugins affecting the design, such as galleries and forms, should be updated by the person who did the design work. They will almost certainly make a mess of your page, and you need to be able to tweak and fix them as soon as possible.
Plugins that don’t affect the look of your design, such as Akismet, should be updated. Then refresh your page and make sure you don’t have compatibility issues. Such issues can break your website. Usually, you can just restore your backup from before you made the update and you’ll be fine.
Here are Josepha’s suggestions for safely updating your WordPress site: