Four Signs To Know When To Technically Update Your WordPress Website

Many websites are handed over with little or no training on website maintenance. In my opinion, that is setting up the website owner for failure. Without knowing how to maintain your WordPress website, it will slow down over time and could cost you a lot of money to fix when something goes wrong.

If your WordPress website is not maintained, it's not a matter of IF something will go wrong but WHEN something will go wrong. 

Benefits of keeping your WordPress website up to date

  • Your website loads quickly. 
  • Your visitors trust your website because it's not showing any errors.
  • It's easier for you to maintain because you're doing it regularly (rather than waiting for something to go wrong).
  • Your website is secure and safe, which is good for you and your clients.
  • Benefit from updates WordPress core, themes and plugins when changes come through.
  • Reduces the risk of anything going wrong and paying out money when it does (it's like brushing your teeth regularly rather than paying big dentist bills.
  • Reduces the risk of your website being hacked.


Did you watch the Big Bang Theory TV show? You may remember the episode where Penny gives Sheldon a lift when he sees her check engine light is on.

He's worried since that's telling you to check the engine. Penny says that it's fine since it's been on for about a month.

Like a car, seven a standard WordPress website gives you messages to let you know when something on the website needs updating. 

 You need to check four signs when you're maintaining your website.

Check the number of updates displayed

When you log into your website's back end, the first screen you see is the WordPress dashboard. Like a car dashboard, it can show you messages like the equivalent of Penny's check engine light. 

There are two places where you can see the number of updates to be performed. One is in the admin bar, and the other is in the side column. The number will be the same in both places. It's the total number of updates, including the WordPress core, plugins, and themes. 

WordPress website dashboard updates


Look for the WordPress update message 

This specific message states a new version of WordPress is available. 

When a new update is released for the WordPress core, it can contain security issues, bug fixes and new functionalities. 

Major releases usually are whole numbers, such as release 5.0 and release 6.0. Major releases contain new functionalities. 

Minor releases are more likely to have security and bug fixes. 

After updating the WordPress core, a screen appears informing you about any new functionality.

WordPress Website Dashboard Messages

Check the messages on the dashboard

Messages with a red bar at the front need to be sorted out quickly. Amber bars are warning messages, and messages with a green bar are usually shown when an action has been completed successfully. Messages with a green bar are often displayed after a plugin is updated successfully.

Messages can come from specific plugins such as Woocommerce (online shop), stating that the Woocommerce database needs to be updated. 

Check the site health tool

Back in WordPress version 5.2, the Site Health check was introduced. It can be found under the tools section. 

The site health box can be shown on the main dashboard. If it's not shown, use the screen options drop-down tab to enable it. 

WordPress website dashboard options

Site Health gives a general overview in the message box with a coloured circle and a brief message beside it. 

For more detail, go to the Site Health screen itself.

WordPress Website Site Health

PHP is the software that runs WordPress, and at the moment, it should be on PHP 7.4. At the time of writing this, PHP 8.0 is not recommended. Any critical issues need to be dealt with quickly, especially PHP warnings. 

You can find out the current requirements for WordPress using this link

These are four areas to check whether your WordPress website needs to be technically updated. 

Penny doesn’t pay attention to the engine check light in her car.

Don’t be like Penny because you don’t want to pay out loads of money to get your website fixed when regular maintenance could avoid that. 


If you want more help with maintaining your website, you can buy our Stress Less Self-Paced Study Guide for Basic WordPress Website Maintenance. It's 48 pages filled with screenshots to teach you how to maintain your WordPress website. 

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