How Often Should You Update Your Website Software, Content + Design

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Did you know that 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a website after a bad experience?* If you’re googling how often should I update my website, this statistic should help you recognise the value of frequent updates. 

This is because if your website technology, is poorly maintained your site can actually break. You may have heard terms like Themes, Plugins and PHP… we’ll come back to these. Basically, your website becomes more vulnerable to hackers and load time problems the longer you ignore these vital updates

Not updating your website’s design files and software could cause future errors, issues limit your website’s performance, speed and Google rank. 

This article explores: 

  • The importance of staying up-to-date with plugins 
  • Why you must be aware of PHP software updates 
  • How often you should update your website’s technology
  • Why you need to update your website’s content and design  

What Happens if I Don’t Update Plugins?

Plugins are vital to your website’s functioning. How so? Just one faulty plugin can cause your entire site to slow to a crawl. It gets even more serious if your site uses abandoned plugins, i.e. plugins that are no longer updated by the Developer, a bit like how Windows 95 is no longer supported by Microsoft. These abandoned plugins make your website an obvious and easy target for hackers and cyber criminals. 

At Web-Sta we update plugins on behalf of our Clients regularly and as part of our Fully Managed WordPress Hosting service.

What is PHP and Why is it Important to Update it?

PHP is a very popular scripting language used by about 80% of websites globally. Think of scripts as computer languages that adds dynamic functionality to your website. One of the many web design platforms that use PHP is WordPress. If you built your site using WordPress, then you rely on PHP to run your website. PHP is a very good script, hence its popularity, the problem emerges when your site is still using an old version of PHP that is no longer supported, and your website software (in the form of the Theme + Plugins) isn’t compatible to receive this update.

If your website software is not compatible with the latest version of PHP (currently 7.3 in November 2019), you urgently need to update these, or change them so that they’ll work with the latest version. Not updating your site can put you at a greater risk of being hacked, as well as increasing the likelihood that your site will be sluggish and unresponsive. If updating your website software results in error, strategic steps need to be taken to fix such technical issues and can largely be mitigated if regular updates have been maintained.

How often should I Update my Website Technology?

In 2018, Google reported it made 3,234 updates to its search algorithm. We don’t mention this to scare you, many of these changes were minor, but what this stat does indicate is the frequency with which rules change in the digital space. If you have a WordPress website for instance, you should be aware that WordPress typically releases one or more core, theme and/or plugin updates each week. At Web-Sta we update all our Client’s websites weekly as part of our Fully Managed WordPress Hosting, this helps identify errors and ensure site security.

Click here for more website technology update tips

How Often Should I Update my Website Content and Design?

When you search how often should I update my website you’ll get a variety of answers, many of which are not evidence-based. At Web-Sta we advise our clients to update their website about every 2 to 3 years, based on a study conducted by Orbit Media Studios.

There are 3 very good reasons to support this: 

  1. To keep pace with technological change
    Let’s look at mobile responsiveness as an example. Go back just a few short years and website designers customarily displayed all important information ‘above the fold’ i.e. so it was visible without needing to scroll.

    This works perfectly for users on PCs or Macs. However, in 2019 about 50% of global internet use occurs on mobile phones** meaning mobile friendly website design is key. Many website designers now recommend losing the ‘above the fold’ concept to give mobile users a much more natural, ‘scroll-happy’ experience. Thank you Facebook + Instagram! At Web-Sta we build websites to display effectively across all device screen types.
  1. To boost your search engine rankings
    The more quality content you add, the better your chances of being ranked higher in search engine results, especially if you target the right search phrases. Note, it has to be quality content! Low-grade content will get you ignored, or worse, penalised. Frequent updates to your site’s content also encourages search engines to crawl your site more often, meaning your content will be indexed faster. 
  1. To keep your site looking current
    Web design may not be able to strut down the catwalk, but just like fashion design, website design trends change. If your website looks ‘old’ to you, it probably does to your potential customers. Not to mention it can actually deter them from checking out what your business has to offer.

Updating your website doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming, the trick is to do it frequently, this will keep your website secure, functional and user-friendly. If anything technical sends you running for the hills, contact your web designer for a quote to do this for you. 

References: 

* sweor.com
** statista.com

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