Modernise your WordPress website

Modernising your website doesn’t have to mean a complete redesign. Sometimes it can just mean keeping everything updated and secure. Sometimes new features are added that could add value to your business offering. With just a few tweaks, you can modernise your WordPress website and keep it running smoothly.

WordPress seems great because you can just leave it and it keeps working.

Until it doesn’t. Even if your current WordPress website is working well, there could be hidden problems that need fixing before you suffer a website nightmare.

illustration of a rabbit sitting on top pf a TV waving an aerial around to get signal
how does this dang thing work again?

Recently, for various reasons, some of my client websites have been forced to run older versions of WordPress or its plugins. Luckily my WordPress Care Plan lets me quickly spot and fix any important issues like this.

It also encouraged me to write this post.

Update WordPress core

WordPress is constantly being updated, whether to expand its feature set or to make it more secure against hacking. There are two main reasons why an up-to-date WordPress install is important:


The best reason to keep WordPress up-to-date is for the security fixes. There are plenty of arseholes willing to hack into your website and muck things up.

Luckily, the clever people at WordPress are constantly fixing code. One of the benefits of using WordPress is that these security fixes are a free update away.

More recently, some web hosts now allow automatic WordPress core security updates. It could be worth switching this feature on if your web host offers it. However, be aware that automatic WordPress updates can break plugins. I recently had to roll back a WordPress install to a previous version when an automatic update broke the PayPal payment system.


WordPress is quite different now compared to a few years ago. If you’ve not edited your website for a long time, you might be missing out on new features that could benefit your business.

The biggest change is the content editor, which is now called the ‘block editor’. This means each piece of content is contained in a ‘block’. This gives editors a lot more control over how the site is presented. You can change the background and text colours of an individual paragraph for example.

The original ‘classic editor’ contained all content elements within one WYSIWYG editor. This made it a lot harder to customise the site unless you really knew what you were doing. Don’t worry though, the classic editor is still available for those that prefer it.

greyscale watercolour illustration of someone sat behind a laptop at a desk wearing comical smiley slippers
aah…stress-free work…

The newest versions of WordPress also offer the option of Full Site Editing, where every single pice of content is contained within a block, including the site header, footer and any sidebars. Something to consider for the more adventurous among you.

One other advantage of the block editor is the option to create your own ‘custom blocks’. Your favourite WordPress plugins might already be taking advantage of these custom blocks. They’ll let you insert and edit content blocks easily within a post or page. This can make website changes much easier and faster.

Update plugins regularly

Custom blocks are not the only reason to keep your WordPress plugins up to date. You might be missing out on other new features that could benefit your business. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on your important plugins for new features and developments.

Be aware that active development on plugins can also stop suddenly. If a plugin is no longer being developed it could break on a newer version of WordPress.

I’ve recently changed one client’s survey plugin because development stopped on the original and updating WordPress broke the plugin. This left their website momentarily susceptible to hacking on an older, very insecure version of WordPress.

Remember to renew any paid plugin subscriptions. Recently, a client let the subscription to their site-builder plugin run out. This was ok for a short time, but after a few months hackers discovered a vulnerability in the plugin code. Without renewing the subscription and updating the plugin, this could have left the website vulnerable to attack.

Update website hosting

Cheap, shared web hosting could be holding your site back. There is a surprising upside to premium hosting; both performance and reliability are vastly improved.

Why is this important? You might miss out on business from a slow site where customers leave quickly. And what if your site has regular downtime? How may customers are you missing out on when your site can’t be accessed for hours at a a time?

If you feel your current web host isn’t helping your site, WP Hosting Benchmarks is a well-regarded independent tester if you’re looking to find the best hosting for your budget.


WordPress works by using a programming language called PHP. Like most software, newer versions are better, so updating PHP can improve website speed and security.

When choosing a web host, be aware of which PHP versions are available. Some hosts offer the option to update PHP. Cheap hosts sometimes lag behind in offering newer PHP versions.

Hopefully this will be less of a problem in the near future; the most recent WordPress version won’t work on a server running less than PHP 7.0.

Offload your website management?

Of course, you might be too busy running your business to dive into these solutions. Or perhaps you’re worried you might break your website and not know how to fix it?

There are plenty of companies that can manage this for you, keeping an eye on your site and updating things so you don’t have to. I offer all my web design clients a WordPress Care Plan. Remember the e-commerce site I mentioned that couldn’t take PayPal payments? I caught that because I make thorough site checks after every WordPress core and plugin update. That’s all part of the Care Plan.

The Care Plan isn’t exclusive to my design clients though, so if you’re short on time or technical knowledge and want to know that your site is in good hands, send me an email and we can chat about modernising your site to keep it safe and secure.