WordPress 5.0 and How to Safely Update

Vicente Diaz
By Vicente Diaz

 Finally, the big core update of WordPress has arrived. The new core includes new features as well as it’s already famous Gutenberg Content Editor.

Updating things always should be a positive thing, for some people might sound a scary task, and for others nothing to care about. The reality is that updating is always a good idea, but it should always be done carefully. Otherwise, it could really affect your business if you are updating a site to a non-compatible website and accidentally breaks it.
In this post, I will discuss why you should be updating and how to do it safely so it won’t give you any compatibility issues.

So… why should you update?

Security

Updates are always important not only because of the release of new features that it brings but for the security updates and enhancements that it provides. Hackers are always looking for ways into your system, and if you are not constantly updating they might be able to find a weak spot and hack your entire business. That’s because updating should always be a yes on any platform you have sensitive information, and you need it to not be accessed by the public.

New Features

Besides security, which is probably the most important reason to update. The features that each update includes could be very exciting for some people and is always nice to have, they are normally added to improve user experience and increase accessibility through any corner of a platform. As for the latest version of WP 5.0, the new updates that are included in the core are REST API improvements which are very important for developers to access the databases via REST and making the ability to create more complex applications.
Theme updates are also an exciting new feature. One update that comes with the new core is the new default theme “Twenty Nineteen”. This new theme gives the default WordPress installation a way modern look and comes optimized with the support of the new Gutenberg Editor.

The Big — Gutenberg

This version of WordPress finally comes with the well-discussed Gutenberg Editor.
This editor, being the most expected feature of WordPress, revolutionizes the way of publishing posts and pages. Its well-developed editor could beneficiate a lot to the people who want to handle their business site by themselves instead of having someone else doing it, you can review a more extensive review of the Gutenberg editor here.

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Steps to Update WordPress

Now, if you feel like these update deserve a chance, here are couple steps you could follow in order to update to the last version of WordPress in a safe way without any chance of breaking the site and affecting your business.

Check that you are not in the middle of a high peak season.
First of all, it is important that your website or store is not going through a high peak season, since this update is a major one which changes lots of sensitive files within the core. I would recommend going through this update on a low season to avoid giving your users a bad experience.

Make a backup

Backup is always necessary since in case the site breaks by any reason, you have an actual copy of your current site to back it up at any chance you could. For Backup plugins, there are a couple I recommend in order to do so.

1. UpdraftPlus
2. BackupBuddy
3. BackWPUp

These three backup plugins basically provide the same service, and it let you save a complete version of your site (Database & Files) and either save it locally or any cloud storage service such as dropbox, google drive, etc.

Upgrade PHP

Upgrading your PHP version is always good when dealing with new platforms. I would recommend having any server language to its last version and that it’s compatible with the platform’s version that you are dealing with.

Update Plugins

Keep your plugins up to date is not only to get the best experience of its author, or to fix security vulnerabilities, but also to have compatibility with the new versions of the core. So it’s important that you check that your plugins are compatible with the new update, and update them to avoid any breaks or vulnerabilities.

Test on Staging Site

Before testing the WordPress update, test it on a staging site. A staging site is basically an exact version of your current site where you are able to do experimentations and any type of edits that you don’t want to the public yet. So, by performing the update on the staging site, you will be sure that the site actually works by checking every single corner of it and check that it works at its 100%.

For staging sites, I would recommend using either WP Staging or WP Stage Couch which provide an easy to use service to create simple staging sites, with easy live deployment.

Check Theme compatibility

Importantly you have to make sure that your theme is compatible with the last version of WordPress, and importantly, with Gutenberg. It’s important that if you are tied to your theme, check deeply the compatibility between those and if it’s not, download the Classic Editor, to make sure that your theme is still being compatible.

And if you are feeling like getting a theme that works at its 100% with Gutenberg, I recommend going through the post that lists out the best Gutenberg themes.

Perform a Wide Site Audit

Finally, after you have done all the steps before to update your site to WP 5.0, you just need to go through the whole site and check that works! Depending on the size of the site, I would recommend a complete audit and QA (Quality Assurance) with a team to avoid any issues in either design or functionality.

Conclusion

WordPress 5.0 is here and you should definitely get it! Although don’t be so quick about it, make sure that you follow the steps stated below in order to avoid any issues. This update is important since it changes the whole core of WordPress and it includes Gutenberg which is the biggest change that WP has had in the last couple of years. This update should be very important to everyone since it still getting good updates, and developers are already creating plugins that enhance the editor even more. If you feel like WP 5.0 and the future of WordPress is too much to understand, here is a Cheat Sheet to help you simplify everything and understand it better.

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Learn More Here

Vicente is a Web Developer at Power Digital. Born and raised in Chile, he moved to San Diego, CA to pursue a degree in Management Information Systems at SDSU. His passion for coding and design has driven him to focus on currently on web development but desiring to extend his skills to further complex applications to create great user experiences in multiple environments.