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General tips for maintaining your WordPress website

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Managing a website on your own can be a frustrating task for non-developers…and by non-developers we mean everyday folks who run their own business and manage their own website to keep costs at a minimum. Applying a WordPress update or making a change to some code could potentially break your site apart…yikes! We’ve had numerous Themeforest customers over the years who use our themes complain about their website not loading properly…or the design broke…or something stopped working – you get the picture. The problem here is that most of our customers are simply not educated in the field of web design and aren’t aware of all the things that could go wrong with their website. WordPress is a great CMS, no doubt about that, but many people think WordPress is something they can manage on their own and again those less educated simply don’t the risks involved in running a WordPress site.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when operating your own website, WordPress or otherwise:

1. Always have a backup

A simple backup of your main files is always a good idea – you should always have a stable release of your website files backed up somewhere locally on your computer or somewhere online like Github or Dropbox. By “stable” we mean a copy of your website that doesn’t have any issues with it – this way if your website breaks apart for whatever reason you can simply rollback to a previous version of your website that does work. Ideally you could use a plug-in such as All-in-One WP Migration which performs a 1:1 backup of your website – its great for quickly restoring your website back to working order.

2. Setup a development environment

A development environment acts a sandbox where you can apply changes to your code or apply updates or do anything else you want and not run into the risk of crashing your live site. In general you should never make any changes or updates to your live site period. Always work on your development site and once your changes and updates have been applied and everything is working smoothly you can then safely proceed with applying those changes to your live site. If you have a shared hosting account, which most people do, then we recommend asking your hosting provider to setup a sub-domain (something like dev.yourdomain.com) with a separate database for development. Not all shared hosting plans offer additional databases or sub-domains so you will need to inquire with your provider about this.

3. Read the changelogs

This one is especially important for WordPress users. Whenever a new update rolls out for a plug-in, such as Woocommerce or revolution slider, be sure to read the changelogs first before updating. Changelogs can provide valuable information that can save you hours of pulling your hair out trying to figure out what wrong in the event that something broke after an update. Changelogs aren’t always user friendly however as they may contain technical jargon that not everyone may understand. In this case it would be a good idea to consult with a WordPress expert or a theme author to see if any code changes need to be made to your theme or if your theme supports the new changes made by other third-party plugins.

4. Invest in a maintenance plan

Most people are busy running their business and can’t afford the time to learn the in’s and out’s of managing a website properly – or some people just cant be bothered with it. In this case we recommend finding a reputable online service that can provide maintenance plans and have them manage your website on a monthly basis. This will take all the stress out of your daily life knowing that your website is being looked after by a professional. Micro Themes now provides a monthly maintenance plan for $29.99 (CAD). With our Platinum maintenance plan we will make sure your live website never breaks apart…the last thing you need is your Woocommerce store going haywire and losing potential sales. For more details visit our Subscriptions page or chat with us live Monday through Friday if you have any questions.

We hope you find this article useful…it may just save your online business from going bonkers.

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