With today’s release of WordPress 3.4, bloggers and other content creators are going to have several great new features to make life better. Like any WordPress update, this release will also kick off another round of activity that I’ve affectionately nicknamed “People bitching about updating WordPress.”
Let me hop onto a soapbox for a moment and ask those folks to, as they say, simmer down now. Updating WordPress shouldn’t be a hassle. If WordPress updates routinely cause you grief, then odds are that in the past you have made some poor choices. Thankfully, said grief can be relieved.
It’s Two Clicks
The software update process couldn’t be easier. Upon logging into the WordPress Dashboard, administrative users are presented with a banner that announces the update and contains a link to the update screen. From the update screen, there’s a big “Update Now” button that will download and install the new version of WordPress.
While it’s possible that something can break during an upgrade, it’s not that common and usually only occurs if you’re running some obscure or abandoned plugins. That said, it’s always a good practice to make a backup before updating.
If your web host has permissions or other things configured in a screwy way such that you can’t update WordPress easily, you need to find a better web host. Here’s who I like.
Self-Responsibility for Plugins & Themes
If you’re managing your own site and have installed various custom plugins and/or themes, you also need to manage those. That means that you should keep them up to date, and use plugins and themes that come from responsible sources that will support their products in an ongoing fashion. For example, premium theme provider StudioPress is ready to go with all of their themes, including the one I’m running here on this site. If you find that a plugin or theme has been abandoned, I can assure you that there’s an alternative with a developer who is focusing on keeping things current. I’ll even help you find one. Really. Just leave a comment.
If You Don’t Want to Manage, Don’t Manage
If you really don’t want to manage your WordPress install, there are a few options by which you can leave the gruntwork to someone else.
- You can do quite a bit with a WordPress.com blog. Managed by Automattic, WordPress.com is automatically updated to the latest version of WordPress and includes features that self-hosting bloggers need to manage via plugins.
- Managed WordPress hosting providers such as WP Engine take care of most of the system administration work. They invest in back end infrastructure and systems such that their users have significantly less blog management decisions and tasks than in a shared or VPS hosting environment.
- There are a lot of WordPress developers and consultants that would love your business. One option is to hire someone (often this is a monthly retainer) to take care of maintenance tasks like WordPress updates, routine backup, or plugin management.
I’ll step down off my soapbox now… I have a few blogs to update so that I can take advantage of new features, remain secure, and continue to publish my writing and photography to the world. WordPress used to be a bit difficult for a novice to update, but it really isn’t anymore… if updates are painful, that’s a red flag for something being wrong.