Video Series: WordPress Installation and Updates

In this video Aaron Low, our Launch Coordinator and Web Programmer, talks with our consultant Brent Haeseker about setting up and updating WordPress.  WordPress is touted as an easy-to-use platform for building websites, but there’s more to it behind-the-scenes than one might originally suspect.  Find out more about installs, backups, manual upgrades and what happens when you pick the wrong 3rd party plugins to use.

WordPress Discussion with Aaron and Brent

[00:00:04] Hi I’m Brent Haeseker. Website consultant here at NetSource Technologies and today I’m talking with Aaron Low who’s our Launch Coordinator and Web Programmer. And we’re going to talk about WordPress and actually installing WordPress and also upgrading WordPress and all the things that are involved and hopefully give you some tips on how to manage your own WordPress Web site and also tell you a little bit about how we can help you out with that as well. So Aaron why don’t you just go ahead and tell everybody a little bit about yourself and what you do here at NetSource.

[00:00:38] Hi I’m Aaron. I’m a Web Programmer and Launch cCoordinator for NetSource Technologies. I can help the team take the project from start to finish: developing the site, giving all the resources necessary… If your site’s moving to our hosting, if you’re doing an upgrade, I can also handle that and just coordinate the whole process and make sure the whole project runs smoothly from start to finish.

[00:01:02] Okay great great. So with WordPress obviously that’s a very popular platform a lot of people are using that for their Web site. Tell us a little bit about what’s involved to get a WordPress Web site set up. Say I’m a business owner. I’m starting a Web site. I say, yeah I want to use WordPress. So what would I then do to get started with getting a WordPress website.

[00:01:24] Well to get started with hosting WordPress either make sure that you pick a hosting provider that you want to go with. You also need to make sure you have the domain name registered and that it is pointing to the hosting provider. Once that’s all set up you should be given tools to access the server that your site will be hosted on. And there you can download and unzip the files for WordPress to that server and start the installation process from that point.

[00:01:54] Okay so it does take a little bit of the technical knowledge of working with these files and stuff to get set up. Do you need to use things like FTP in the setting up of your WordPress website.

[00:02:07] Yes the hosting provider that you choose to go with should be able to give you access to the server via FTP credentials and using your favorite FTP client, such as FileZilla. You can open up a connection to the server and put the zipped up contents of your fresh WordPress site on there and then unzip them on the server and that should get all files there for you. Then you just go and do the basic installation steps from that point.

[00:02:38] Because again there’s some technical stuff that you need to do with it. Now once you get the website, now it’s installed on the server and your hosting platform you’re ready to go. What do you do now? Do you have a site that’s ready to go or is there still additional things that need to be done? Because honestly it’s not – nothing is as easy as just pushing the easy button. “There you go.” So what is involved now with making that Web site be a site that serves that particular business usually?

[00:03:06] To really make that your site, it’s gonna take a little bit of work because once you install WordPress, right after you’re done with the installation process, you’re going to have a default theme and with that you’ll want to change that theme so you can have some of the free options that are out there you can also do a custom development which is really nice and makes your site stand out from the rest. You can also get a paid theme from one of the various stores online: install that and then also decide what kind of things you want to achieve with your website which may or may not involve plugins for the WordPress site, and that can be a lot of steps, a lot of different things, and does require some knowledge of coding to understand what it’s going to do to your site because a lot of those plugins are developed by third parties and they have to support that plugin for every new release of WordPress.

[00:04:06] Ok, so there’s alot basically with WordPress it’s kind of like a rabbit hole you go down pretty far with all the different options that are available whether you’re choosing from a preset theme whether you’re modifying that theme or doing something completely custom or integrating all these third party things and it can start growing into becoming pretty complex. Okay now if you’ve got the – you’ve now got a WordPress Web site set up. Obviously it’s not just it’s set and you can forget about it, you’ve got to maintain it, so then what’s involved with actually upgrading the WordPress website.

[00:04:40] Right so WordPress releases upgrades on a fairly consistent regular basis. That’s really because of security reasons. When you need to upgrade WordPress: you log into your admin dashboard and you’ll get a notification that says, “hey, it’s time for an upgrade,” and it’ll tell you what version is out. So you click on that upgrade and start the process and depending on how your server is set up your process could be automatic or could be manual. But when you upgrade WordPress, you also have to consider all the plugins that you installed and activated on your site as well, because those third parties are going to have to support the newer version of WordPress that you’re upgrading to. Therefore they will also have upgrades for their plugins.

[00:08:35] Okay. So something that can definitely go wrong is after you do that upgrade, you could you could mess up the plugins that you have attached to your WordPress website. Now the. I know you there’s there’s that manual process of upgrading and there’s the automatic process. Tell a little bit about the difference between those two things.

[00:08:50] All right well an automatic one is like I said before it’s you kind of follow prompts and based on your server settings you can easily upgrade, it’ll do it for you. That also goes for the plugins as well. They’ll also have the ability to click the upgrade option if they have a new upgrade available and they’ll just run it… run it, you’ll see the spinning icon for a little bit that it’s loading and then it’ll be done. In some cases you can’t do an automatic upgrade, you’ll have to do a manual upgrade. So what that evolves is really getting those FTP credentials back out, logging into your server, and following a set of instructions on, where you’ll basically swap files out you’ll delete two sets of folders and replace them with the new content so you’ll have to download it yourself from their website. It’s a little bit more involved it does take, you know, half an hour to an hour for someone that knows what they’re doing and is really using the case with automatic upgrades fail.

[00:09:37] So that’s when you would do the manuals, when the automatic just doesn’t work. (Correct.) So that does actually happen sometimes when the automatic upgrade will not work and you’ve got to to switch to a manual process. So in those cases it actually sounds like that might be a case where if you don’t have a technical background it might be easier to get a developer to assist the situation. (Yes.) And again we’re talking about some things that can go wrong as those upgrades might not transfer over obviously to third party plugins. They also have their own upgrades as well so how does that work within the context of WordPress? Do you have to wait for those plugins to upgrade too so that you can upgrade them or do you have to wait till they upgrade before you upgrade WordPress? What’s kind of the best practice there?

[00:10:13] Well, the best practice is to really get plugins where the third party developers will upgrade them consistently enough that you don’t have to worry about it. You can upgrade WordPress without having the plugin updated and tested for that new version. But be aware that, like I said, it’s untested, so those plugins that are now installed on your newly upgraded WordPress site may or may not work correctly or as you expected. It’s better to choose plugins that have specific ratings or reviews that you know are reliable that you can however upgrade WordPress without worrying about the upgrades. Just keep those things in mind.

[00:10:39] So even if just because you have a wide variety of plugins to choose from doesn’t mean you should choose from any of those right. Choose wisely. (Yes. Be selective.) And what about backing up WordPress? Is that something you should do before you do that upgrade process?

[00:10:52] Absolutely! Always back up. If you upgrade a plugin? Backup. If you upgrade WordPress. Back it up, because if a plugin fails to upgrade correctly, it may fail to create the file directory that it needs to install the new files to, and then your pluggin live unavailable for use and you’d have to login to the server again with FTP credentials to figure out what happened to it and see if you can recover that. If you have it backed up however you can simply pull that file out and restore that to your server. So it’s really really really handy to have an upgrade and any for any variety of cases when you’re dealing with WordPress.

[00:11:22] So always always back up your files before doing an upgrade to your WordPress website, even if you’re just pushing that automatic button you still want make sure your backed up. (Exactly.) Okay well what are some of the things where NetSource can help out with with WordPress websites?

[00:11:34] We can definitely help out installing your WordPress website, choosing a great theme… We’re very knowledgeable in setting those up. We know what we’re doing when it comes to building you a really unique theme. We can also draw upon our knowledge of all of our reliable plugins that we normally use and that we know will fit the needs for a variety of situations – where you need a slideshow, or you need an Image Gallery, you want to show your events and even if you want custom fields to show that WordPress doesn’t allow right out of the box, we can also develop those for you. It does take some set up, and it’s really helpful to have someone that is, you know, doing that specific job with that role in mind. (Okay great great.)

[00:12:07] Yeah and if you what you want to talk to us further about WordPress and how we can help you out with your WordPress Web site just give us a call the number to reach us is 1 800-709-3240.

[00:12:14] Again I’m Brent Haeseker, Website Consultant here at NetSource. This is Aaron Low and we thank you for watching.