This edition is a bit more technical than most other ones (see bottom for brief technical notes), but we wanted to recommend that you do something pretty easy and really good for your business:
Update WordPress to 3.7!
Ordinarily, updating WordPress is one of those ten million things you “should” do—like cleaning your sprinkler heads, or inspecting your gutters for signs of wear and tear. it’s all important stuff, but there’s a good argument that life’s a lot too short to bother trying to do everything that makes sense in a vacuum.
The 3.7 release is different. We’ll discuss why in a moment, but first, let’s talk a bit about what a WordPress update is, and why you want to stay updated.
Why updating WordPress is good
WordPress is a complex piece of software that powers around 20% of the world’s websites. It’s been built over many years by thousands of people, and it’s constantly changing in response to its creators’ goals for it.
Perhaps the most important of these goals is security. WordPress in general is quite secure, but because it runs on millions and millions of websites, it’s an attractive target for people with malicious intent. As potential weaknesses in WordPress’s architecture surface, WordPress contributors scramble to fix these weaknesses; eventually, they publish their results in the form of a new WordPress version.
WordPress’s creators also want to make it better: easier to use, more full-featured, and more intelligently designed. The WordPress community bundles thousands of incremental improvements into each new version, as well as major overhauls to one or two core components.
So if you want to keep your site secure, and to take advantage of new features, you need to manually update the WordPress software it’s running. That’s why you receive those “Please update” notices across the admin area of your site every so often.
What’s interesting about 3.7
It’s the last update you’ll ever need to do manually. 3.7 is an update about updating—it introduces auto-updating into WordPress core. From 3.7 onward, WordPress will stop asking you to update it, and just update itself.
So 3.7 is your chance to be permanently rid of the “___ is available! Please update now” nag messages at the top of your admin area—and it’s your chance to have a permanently secure, up-to-date, feature-rich WordPress site.
General reasons not to update WordPress
We only know of two:
- It’s a pain.
- It sometimes breaks things.
So… what about that?
The 3.7 release permanently solves problem 1. And it permanently locks you into living with problem 2.
If a given WordPress update is going to break something on your site—a badly designed plugin or theme, or a poorly-thought-through code snippet—then from now on you’re just going to wake up to a cheerful “We updated!” message from WordPress, plus a broken site.
Wait, why is this a good idea?
A few reasons:
- WordPress updates pretty rarely break things. WordPress is famous for the almost insane measures it takes to preserve backwards-compatibility—meaning that if something used to work, it will continue to work, even if it’s no longer thought of as the best way to do things. So WordPress updates should not break anything important. (The horror stories that do come up are generally the result of a plugin author writing short-sighted code, for which there is currently no cure.)
- Updating keeps you out of technical debt. Hunkering down into old software versions is one way of piling up technical debt: a backlog of fixes and improvements that will be needed before anyone can take the site forward in any way. If you want your site to be something that a developer can work on and add to, you’re better off updating WordPress. Otherwise, your next web project in a year or two might require throwing out your entire site and starting over, simply because of the massive technical debt the site’s in.
- As your site goes out-of-date, it’s getting less secure and less relevant for the way the internet works now.
In summary, click that update button! It’s a good move for your business, and it’s the last time you’ll ever have to do it. If anything goes wrong, tell us; we should be able to put it right.
- This applies to sites running wordpress.org, not wordpress.com. If it was built by an actual web developer, your site’s almost certainly a .org; google “difference wordpress.com wordpress.org” if you’re not sure about this.
- “3.7” here is synonymous with “3.7.1,” “3.7.2,” or any later versions that incorporate 3.7’s new features.