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Running a website means keeping your website up-to-date, but knowing how often can be a bit confusing. Whether you’ve just finished developing your site, or your site has been running for a while, updating will always be a relevant and necessary part of maintaining your website.

‘Updating’ refers to one of two things or both:

  • Adding new features
  • Keeping the system and plugins up to date

The web is constantly changing and without adapting to it, your website could quickly become outdated.

Adding New Content

How often you add new content depends on the purpose of your website.

For example, if your website acts like a brochure or just for presence, then updating website features may not be on the top of your priority list and won’t be needed very often. However, if your site hosts a blog, this is content you should post on a regular schedule.

If you are looking to build more of a platform, where the website is central to the functioning of your business, then regular updates on the features and being responsive to issues are very important. If development is in-house then it is likely you will be working on these regularly anyway, but by outsourcing development you will need to keep in mind an ongoing relationship with your developer/developers and any potential time and cost implications there in your planning.

Now we’ve looked at the different types of content you can update on your website, how often should you update it?

There’s no set rule on updates of this kind. It really comes down to the nature of your business, the use of the website and how often you’re looking to create new content. However, in general, if your website is used frequently then keeping the user experience as smooth as possible is a top priority and this will affect how often you update your website features. Blog posts should also be updated in line with how often you want to attract audiences to your website. Smaller businesses often find sharing a blog post once a week – once a month the most effective and most time-efficient. However, larger businesses often have more resources to push out posts more frequently, as far as daily posts.

The frequency depends on what works for your business, how many resources you have to offer to spend on updating content and what type of content you need to update.

What about the system updates?

In short, the two types of system updates are:

  • Core updates – these should look to be updated as soon as possible. In most cases, these will contain new system features, bug fixes, security fixes and general stability improvements. Not making these updates are the usual reason why systems get hacked.
  • Plugin updates (or extensions, etc depending on the CMS) – again, update as often as possible. Look to read the log of changes before updating to see if it is likely to affect the set-up of your website in any way.

Core and plugin updates somewhat go hand-in-hand; plugin updates usually follow core updates to make use of new features, etc. Try to keep them in sync as much as possible and note whether the plugin version is supported for your core CMS version.

It’s a good idea to look to use as few plugins as is possible. Although it’s tempting to add numerous plugins that offer all kinds of feature additions, how much of what they offer are you actually using? It can become hard to manage when you have so many plugins each doing different things, and tracking down which may be causing you an issue. Imagine trying to find the bad lightbulb in a string of Christmas tree lights – keeping these updated and finding the faulty ones often causes more admin and testing requirements.

If you are just using one feature of a plugin, it may be better to get that one feature specially developed for your website. It can be much more efficient to have it developed specifically rather than loading additional plugins that may take up more server resources than is necessary. However, this does come at a cost.

Some plugins will stop receiving updates; at that point, they may become a security issue as they fall behind – they may even then stop working and break your website. It’s good to try to reduce the points of potential issues as much as is possible

We’ve written a separate post all about plugins with more information on choosing which ones you need so you don’t face these problems.

Knowing when to update your website depends on the type of updates you are intending to do. However, when it comes to system and plugin updates, updating as frequently as possible is vital to avoid any security or website issues.