A WordPress* powered site has many advantages. Unlike a traditional site which requires the web designer to make all edits and updates, a WordPress site has a wide range of administrative backend tools that allow the client themselves to edit and add content.

For these reasons and many more that WordPress has become a powerful platform for company websites both small and large. As with almost any popular technology this also makes it a target of malware.

Security on the web Will always be the cat and mouse game requiring continual security updates and patches. Hosting services do this on a continual basis for you, however for WordPress sites plug-ins in a WordPress installation itself must also be kept current in order to prevent new or emerging security breaches.

Most web designers offer a monthly subscription Service that includes updates and security patches. Why is it important that you have your web professional keep your WordPress site up to date? Consider the following.

Benefits of Keeping your WordPress Site Updated

1. Updating gives you access to better tools and functions, such as image editing and interface improvements.

2. You protect yourself from malicious attackers who want to access your site and use it for their nefarious purposes. Let’s consider some of these dangers

The dangers of not keeping up to date.

The contents of your site can be edited without your knowing. Links can be added that point to nefarious sites. This serves the interest of the attackers as they accumulate links from sites they’ve breached, add links to boost their search rankings.

The contents of your site could be deleted and lost. If you don’t have a backup, you’ll be left with nothing.

The user login information can be stolen. The attacker may then try to use the same information to login to other services with the hopes that you’ve used the same username and password across multiple services. This brings up another point- don’t use login credentials on your wordpress login that you’ve used elsewhere.

These aren’t the only dangers, but they are the most common ones.

Is it necessary to have my web professional perform the updates or can I do it myself?

This is an excellent question!
Lets talk about the factors that will determine which is best for you.
Talk with your web professional to see if updating the site is something you can take care of yourself. If the theme you’ve used for your site has not had any of its code edited in any way then you’ll very likely be able to handle the updates yourself. It’s a straightforward process of pressing a button.

However, for sites that have had their theme code tweaked in order to better suit the specific needs of the company, updates are much more involved. In this case, your web professional will need to be the one to perform the updates. They will have a checklist of the code changes that were made to the theme. Before updating the site, they will make a copy of these code changes, and after updating they will have to go into the code at each point that an alteration was made and insert that alteration again. Then they will have to test the site anew in order to assure that the alterations still perform as expected with the new update. This process often involves making the updates manually  via FTP server access.

A new design practice that attempts to eliminate this complication for new sites is something called “child themes”. If you are looking to develop a new site, ask your web professional about using a “child theme” for this purpose. Some existing themes are including this new functionality to their theme updates. If your current theme includes this at some point ask your web professional to give you a quote for implementing it.

Footnotes:
What is WordPress?
For the uninitiated, here’s a quick overview:

WordPress as a content management system that separates the design from the content by use of the database. The back end administrative tools are developed and published by WordPress.org and made available for web designers to build upon. This platform gives clients the great advantage of being able to directly edit their own site without any knowledge of coding.