WordPress is the world’s most popular content management, powering more than a third of all websites. The open-source platform makes it easy and practical to create compelling, functional websites.
Open source refers to software in which the original source code is made freely available and may be distributed. This means developers anywhere can contribute to WordPress through the use of plugins, which increase functionality and performance. There are more than 59,000 free WordPress plugins and thousands more premium plugins, supporting everything from ecommerce capabilities and SEO to contact forms and social media sharing.
As an open-source platform, WordPress needs to be updated as new features come out and security vulnerabilities are identified. When the platform is updated, developers issue upgrades for plugins as well.
Did you know WordPress has issued platform updates more than 100 times since version 1.0? The first version of WordPress was released January 3, 2004. As of writing, WordPress is currently on a stable version of 5.8.3, with version 5.9 looming.
Each website owner is responsible for implementing WordPress and plugin updates on a website. Here’s why it’s important.
Updates Can Include New Features and Functions
When software gets updated, it frequently includes new features. In this case, it’s wise to check the change logs to see what has been changed with the plugin – added, removed or modified in any ways. This is applicable to both WordPress itself and plugins.
Maybe one of your favorite plugins is missing a feature that would make it absolutely perfect in your eyes; by updating the plugin regularly, the developers might add that missing feature.
WordPress Core Updates Typically Improve Overall Performance
As software is constantly changing, developers will find ways to improve how WordPress or plugins will work on a performance level. By updating WordPress and the plugins, you will generally gain a performance boost, meaning it will download faster and improve the user experience.
Sometimes WordPress Needs to be at a Specific Version to Work with Certain Plugins
Because the software is constantly changing, sometimes plugins will not work with older versions of WordPress. There are workarounds, such as rolling back or not updating, but that will affect your website security and is generally not recommended.
When a Plugin is Updated, Plugin Conflicts Can be Fixed
Occasionally, you might be hit with a plugin conflict, which can result in the website loading incorrectly or not at all. Usually when things like this happen, the developer(s) will be notified and will strive to correct this in their next update.
However, the website issues might just be due to the set of plugins you have installed. Sometimes plugins don’t play well together, which is why it’s important to research before installing.
By Updating WordPress Core and Plugins, You Are Immediately Adding a Layer of Security
Vulnerabilities and exploits can be found in WordPress Core and plugins, so it’s best to update ASAP in most cases. If the vulnerabilities and exploits remain open, WordPress websites can be hacked by outside sources.
By routinely updating your website, you reap performance and functionality benefits and increase security. A failure to do so can cause your site to break or potentially spread a virus.