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The reasons to upgrade your website’s look, layout, and content are obvious: to create more visitors, more leads, and more customers. Right?

But did you know that updating the software can be even more important? Leaving your website untouched for years can cause some pretty serious security issues, not to mention the headache caused by bugs and errors that build up over time.

Technology is always changing, always making progress. This is bitter sweet. There is a trickle down affect (the bitter) that happens when computers update, and Google changes its algorithm, and hackers find new ways to exploit your information. Once software gets changed and updated, everything else has to be updated too. But the sweet happens when things get easier to use, our web experience becomes seamless and beautiful, and anything we can dream up becomes a simple reality.

So here are some of the most basic reasons that you need to keep your website up to date.

Make updating the content easier - your staff will love you.

Changing your website content should be a snap! You shouldn’t have to learn code or put in a ticket with your hosting company to make changes. But when your website software starts to deteriorate, that is exactly what can happen. Basic functionality sometimes stops working, like your WYSIWYG editor, or even your login page.

Remember that as technology changes, our experiences become easier. It's worth updating some software to get a simpler experience when changing and adding website content.

Eliminate cross-browser compatibility issues.

Do your customers call you claiming that something on your website is out of whack, but you don’t know what they are talking about because it appears to be working just fine? That's because they are probably using Safari, or Internet Explorer - and you might be using Chrome or Firefox. Browsers have to go through software updates too. Keep your website up to date and you will be less likely to experience these kinds of errors.

Patch your security risks and avoid hacking issues.

Lets be honest - there is no way to be 100% secure from hacking issues. But letting your site go by the wayside is one of the most common ways to get attacked by a bot. Why? Because they are programed to know the vulnerabilities that exist in old software.

On average, website software like Wordpress is updated every 1-2 weeks. That's because software updates address serious security risks that can allow your website to be compromised by hackers, robots, and malware.

In other words, vulnerabilities are “patched” and it's up to the website owner to implement the safer version. And obviously, the more vulnerabilities that are left unpatched, the greater chance you have of getting attacked.

Stay Google-friendly with better code and a responsive layout.

In 2015 Google started penalizing websites that weren’t mobile friendly. And at the end of 2016, they split the Mobile search index from the desktop index. That means when you do a search on your mobile phone, it searches a different database than if you do a search on your desktop computer.

There is only one way to make sure your website gets found on a mobile search - you absolutely HAVE to make sure your software is responsive - and that means keeping it up to date. Lets not go too far down this rabbit hole…

Pain Free Guide to Your Next Web Redesign

Road map to a successful upgrade.

In my experience over the past 13 years of development, no two websites are the same. But every website has the same types of pieces: core software, child software, themes, and add-ons or plugins.

Many times when you update the core software, the themes and add-ons will become obsolete. Before upgrading your core, make sure the rest is compatible. If not, you will have to choose new pieces to complete your puzzle - and sometimes that means a total overhaul.

Rebuilding from scratch isn’t always a bad thing. Most websites go through this process every two years… something we don’t actually recommend, because there is a better way.

Think about an SSL Certificate.

You can purchase an SSL Certificate from a variety of sources, including GoDaddy. This is basically an encryption service for your data. There is really no reason not to use an SSL, but they aren’t free and you might experience some high fees in getting them integrated into your website. It's best to implement an SSL when your website is being newly built, or when you are doing your upgrades.

I also want to add that there are some organizations that absolutely must have SSL, including e-commerce, government sites, or high-value sites which are heavily targeted by human hackers.

Will updating your site really solve all of those threats?

Basically, yes. But don’t forget that your updated software can become outdated all over again if you don’t keep it fresh. That’s why we recommend the Growth Driven Design method of web design, compared to the traditional re-haul every few years.

We also recommend using a super-secure hosting environment that will add a layer of protection to your files. We offer website hosting, and are proud to put our websites on a dedicated server (not shared) with WPEngine. They offer powerful security services, including prevention. (They also offer free SSL certificates, by the way.)

Get a risk assessment of your website.

Let me and my team analyze your website and give you some simple recommendations on how to beef up your security, and get more leads from your website.

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Published by Jennifer Bailey February 20, 2017
Jennifer Bailey