How to Update Your WordPress Website Checklist

WordPress is the most popular Content Management System (CMS) out there, powering 28% of the web according to HubSpot. It’s a fantastic tool for creating and maintaining websites, and it’s very easy to use, even if you’re not technologically-inclined. In this article, we’ll walk you through a step-by-step process of updating your WordPress website from the ground up.

Get Everything Set Up Before You Start

Before you begin any kind of content update on your WordPress website, it’s imperative to have everything in place. This means setting up the site with a fresh layer of content, formatting it properly, and making sure all the technical settings are set correctly.

The first thing you should do is log in to your WordPress dashboard and make sure you’re on the correct website. From here, you can adjust some general website settings such as the site’s theme and color scheme, as well as manage your site’s content through the dashboard’s familiar WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor.

Create A List Of All The Pages On Your Website

When we talked about setting up your WordPress site, you were given the option of either creating a new site from scratch or using a previously-existing site. If you went with the latter, you’ll need to create a list of all the pages on the existing site. You can do this either by looking at the site’s source code (HTML) or using the built-in WordPress database.

To start, click on the WP icon on the dashboard, then select Tools from the menu that appears. This will open the WordPress dashboard’s familiar Edit screen, with the Toolbar on the left and the content on the right. At the very top of the content area, you’ll see a small vertical menu with three items: Settings, Tools, and Help.

As you may have guessed from the name, the Settings item allows you to adjust various aspects of your site’s operation, such as the site’s theme, plugins, and more. Clicking on this item opens the Settings panel, which is where you’ll make most of your adjustments. In this article, we’ll walk you through the various settings you may need to tweak to ensure your WordPress site functions how you want it to function.

Check For Errors

No site is perfect, and even well-designed WordPress sites can have some errors that need fixing. Checking for errors is very easy to do from within WordPress—just go to Tools > Debugging in your dashboard, and you’ll see a few errors highlighted by default.

These are typically minor things that only require you to click on them for the code to update on the page. For instance, you may see the following two errors:

  • Syntax error: missing )
  • Parse error: syntax error, unexpected )

If you click on either of these errors, you’ll be taken to the corresponding line of code on the page. Simply fix the error by replacing it with the correct syntax, and then save the page.

You may also see a couple of warnings in the footer, which are basically messages from WordPress telling you that certain elements are not compatible with the browser you’re using. These are usually security-related messages, such as:

  • JavaScript is disabled in your browser.
  • Your browser is not using the latest version of JavaScript.
  • Your browser is outdated and not compatible with WordPress.
  • You are not using a supported browser.

These are easy to fix as well, and you can usually just click on them to make the necessary adjustments. Keep in mind that you won’t see many of these errors while you’re in Layout mode in your dashboard—the visual editor is much better at showing you any errors that may exist.

Get Rid Of The Bad Sequels

Even well-designed and maintained WordPress sites can become obsolete over time, and sometimes, new features are activated that the site creators didn’t anticipate. This can leave bad patches in the code that may cause unexpected behavior or bugs that need to be fixed.

You can find these kinds of errors by going to Tools > Debugging, as before, and selecting the “Bad Sequels” option. Doing this will cause all the active plugins on your site to display, listing all the activated plugins and the versions of each one. You can then simply deactivate any plugins you don’t need.

WordPress keeps track of all the plugins you have installed on your site, and each time you activate or deactivate a plugin, a small entry is made in the WordPress database, which is hidden from view by default. Doing this allows you to keep track of all the plugins you’ve used on your site—even if you deactivated all of them, WordPress would still recognize that you had them installed at one point.

Get The Most Out Of Your Hard Drive

Just because your site is online and you have content already doesn’t mean you have to keep it all for yourself. You can use plugins like WooCommerce, Stripe, and Epoch to enable others to download and purchase digital content—such as eBooks or courses—off your site. These are all free WordPress plugins that provide you with all the functionalities you need without costing you a dime.

To get the most out of your hard drive, you should create a separate folder inside your WordPress download folder called “product” (or whatever you’ll call it). This is where you’ll save all the files related to your digital products, including any images, videos, or PDFs that may be included in them. Just remember: if you use FTP to upload these files, you’ll need to use a dedicated account for this purpose and make sure you keep it separate from your WordPress account. Otherwise, you’ll place your site’s content—and all your site’s content, in fact—at risk of being deleted if you run out of room on your hard drive.

Back Up Your Site

It’s a good idea to back up your site in case something happens, be it a bug in the plugin you use or a malicious attack from a hacker. There are a few ways to back up your site—you can do this manually or use various WordPress plugins to make the process easier. We’ll discuss one method below.

Manual Backup

If you want to back up your site manually, the first thing you should do is log in to your WordPress dashboard and click on the “Sites” link on the left side of the page. This will open the dashboard’s navigation bar, which will now contain a list of sites you have created or are a member of. Select the site you want to back up from this list and click on the “Manage” button beside it to bring up the site’s information page.

Here, you can see all the site’s content, as well as adjust some basic settings such as the site’s theme and color scheme. To back up the site, click on the “Backup” button on the top toolbar—a pop-up window will then allow you to either take a manual snapshot of the site (which is the simplest and most convenient way to do it), or download a full ZIP archive of the site’s content (in case you need to restore it in the future). Don’t forget: you can always choose to save a local copy of your site’s content to your computer as well.

Some people prefer to use FTP to upload their files to their website, as it’s the most flexible and secure way to do it. If you decide to use this method, you’ll need to log in to your FTP client and connect to your WordPress site via FTP. Navigate to your “product” folder inside your FTP client and create a new folder there called “backups”—this is where you’ll place all the backups you make from your site. Inside that folder, you should create sub-folders for each version of your site (ie. one for your initial installation, one for a subsequent upgrade, etc.).


If you use a plugin to handle the backup process for you, you can automate it to happen daily or weekly. Simply install the plugin, configure it to your liking, and click on the “Update Backup” button located at the top left of the plugin’s dashboard to begin making automatic backups.

If that doesn’t suit you, you can also perform a manual backup every now and then just to be sure.