A beginners guide to updating your WordPress website

a beginners guide to updating your wordpress website

Running updates on your WordPress site is an important part of successfully maintaining your website. Keeping all elements up-to-date protects your site from potential hacks, adds new features and keeps up with the latest technology, ensures your website stays online for customers, and generally helps your website run fast and smooth at all times.

Thankfully, keeping your website updated can be relatively easy – especially if you have a straight forward, brochure website or blog. With a few clicks of a button, you can complete important WordPress updates to keep your site secure and optimised.

Please note: The below instructions are for simple, brochure based websites. If you are new to WordPress and running updates and have a high traffic e-commerce website, I highly recommend hiring a professional who will run your updates using a staging website. A staging website is a clone of your website that is created and stored on your server/hosting account. The updates are then run on this clone for testing and then once safe to make public, the updates are then made live.

Continue to learn about the different ways you can update WordPress from the admin dashboard.

Backup Your Website Before Updates

Before you jump into updating your site, it’s important to first make a backup of your website files. Creating a backup protects your business and your website in case an update causes errors on your site. This can be anything from removing content or breaking the design/formatting of your pages.

By creating a backup, in the event of an update gone wrong, you can restore your website by downloading the backup you made of your site. It’s a great backup plan to have a backup.

The easiest way to create a backup is with a WordPress plugin or run a manual backup from your hosting account. There are many backup plugins you can download from the WordPress repository. Most are very simple to use and will allow you to create and use a backup with ease.

My personal favourite backup plugin is: Updraft Plus – This handy plugin offers both free and paid versions.

lillie backup plugins

Review Website After Each Update

In relation to backups, once you’ve made a copy of your site and you’re ready to start executing your WordPress updates, it’s important to check your website after each update.

Doing this allows you to make sure that your website is still functioning properly after the update is complete or use the backup of your website if it is not.

If you complete many updates without checking your website after each one, if your website breaks, you will not know which update caused the issue and it will be much harder to troubleshoot once you restore your site using a backup. You’re likely to make the same mistake again.

However, if your website breaks after one update, you now know the cause and are in a better place to figure out a solution or work with a web designer for assistance.

1. Update WordPress Plugins

Now, let’s update your website! First, you can see and complete all updates from the WordPress Updates screen within the dashboard. You can get to this screen by clicking on the arrow circle at the very top of the dashboard.

lillie allwordpressupdates

Once there, you can review all of the updates available and complete the updates you wish. You also have the option to update all but it is encouraged to update elements on your site one by one to ensure everything continues to work properly.

To update your plugins separately, navigate to Plugins > Installed Plugins in your lefthand menu. There you will see a list of all of your plugins and if any are due for an update. To update a plugin, click on the update now link within the plugin information box.

lillie updateplugins

If you aren’t using a plugin, delete it. Having many unused plugins on your website can slow it down and increase your risk of a hack if you aren’t regularly updating them.

You can do this by clicking the delete link under the plugin name.

2. Update WordPress Themes

Similar to plugins, you can also update themes from the overall WordPress Updates page. But you can also update themes individually by navigating to Appearance > Themes. Once there, you can update a theme by clicking on the update now link above the theme information box.

lillie updatethemes

It’s also important to only have your current theme and child theme (if applicable) installed in your dashboard. Having multiple themes is a security risk if you aren’t using and updating them regularly.

You can do this by clicking into a theme and then clicking delete

3. Update WordPress Core

By now you should’ve noticed the WordPress 5.9.2 is now available banner that is floating at the top of most of my screenshots. Yes, updating the WordPress core can be this easy

lillie updatewpcore

When a WordPress core update is available, you’ll see an alert at the top of your dashboard. You can also update the WordPress core by navigating to the WordPress Updates screen.

4. Clear Website Cache

Updating your website keeps it secure, fast, and running smoothly. However, you can further optimise your website by clearing your website cache.

Caching boosts the speed of your website by storing copies of your site to serve up to your visitors instead of making their network download your website files every time they type your URL into their browser.

After running your updates, it is important to clear your cache to give your website a bit of a ‘reset’ to allow the updates to take effect for both yourself as the website admin and your end users.


Still don’t feel confident maintaining your own website?

That is entirely understandable and it is very common for website owners to outsource this part of their website maintenance and take up care plans offered by their web designers/developers – as we know, it can often be difficult to be a successful business owner and do ALL OF THE THINGS – your website maintenance is one of those areas that is very easy to outsource. Contact Studio La Luna and ask about our care plans!


Hey, I’m Lillie

I am a website and UX designer based in Brisbane, Australia, but work with women in business worldwide. I am a coffee addict, art and interior design lover and all-round creative. I live with my little family of 3 in our cute little 70’s style bungalow.

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