Why perform a WordPress Health and Repair Assessment?
If you own or administer a WordPress website which is operating outdated software, both core and plugins, you should consider a professional solution. One of the crucial services provided by dkddi is WordPress Health and Repair. In our experience, most website owners neglect website maintenance. We handle these tasks for our WordPress Care Plan subscribers but whether a Care Plan member or not, the initial update and repair of a website may require additional effort and labor. We perform an in-depth assessment of your website and provide a report of the findings combined with an estimate of cost to execute the work required to update your website.
What exactly is a WordPress Health and Repair Assessment?
When updating websites operating outdated core versions of WordPress, care must be taken to ensure a stable restoration point for both site files and the database. Your webhost server may require some updates as well; version 5.0 requires a minimum PHP version (WordPress is based upon the PHP scripting language) of 5.6 while the most recent and supported version of PHP is 7.3 (at the time of writing this). Once the software updates have been run, testing for proper operation should be performed. After testing, we run additional diagnostics checking for security vulnerabilities. Updating and optimizing the database will reduce database bloat and improve performance. Speed and compression testing must also be performed, and website caching employed if not already in place. Lastly, we look at the mobile friendly status of the website and correct for any responsive styling issues which may be flagged by Google as usability errors. We’ve provided a Case Study below to demonstrate the Health and Repair assessment process in greater detail. You may also request the service through our Health and Repair Request Form below or within our Contact Us section for further assistance.
WordPress versioning explained.
We classify “outdated” versions as any version prior to the most recent major release. The current major release version of WordPress is 5.0. The first number denotes the major version number while the subsequent numbers after the decimal points indicate the minor release version. Therefore, version 4.9.5 will let us know that the major release version is 4 with minor updates released incrementally as 4.0 – 4.9. These minor releases are usually maintenance or security patches while the major releases are usually structural changes to the core software. WordPress contributors work hard to make major release transitions as painless as possible, but the sheer number of plugins available and requiring updates post a major release require special attention.
Case Study: Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park
The Skokie Northshore Sculpture Park (SNSP) website has been in operation for several years. dkddi was tasked with the modernization of the site without a redesign or redevelopment. SNSP is a non-profit organization and budgetary concerns dictated the more economical choice of retaining its current design while updating core software and plugins, optimizing the database and code structure, installing an SSL/TLS certificate, and correcting its responsive or mobile friendly design.
We performed the WordPress Health and Repair assessment, which identified the critical issues, and presented our recommendation for improvements. The assessment report includes a full audit of the website content, server configuration, WHOIS public records, and DNS records. Within the report we recommended the following improvements:
1.1 WordPress Core/Plugin Updates
Goal: Update core software and addon plugins to most current versions.
WordPress Version 4.9.10 – Current Version 5.2.2
Plugins requiring update: 10x
Recommended Additional Plugins (not shown)
Plugins included SEO, Caching and Minification, Image Optimization, Database Optimization, and WebP image delivery plugins.
1.2 Theme Development Update
1.3 Update Server PHP Version
1.4 Responsive Design Update
1.5 SSL/TLS Certificate Installation
SNSP Website Optimization
After creating a complete backup of the website files and database, the software and plugin updates were run followed by the server-side PHP update required. With these initial tasks complete, we moved on to optimization beginning with speed and compression testing. Testing initiated during the assessment phase returned less than optimal results: PageSpeed reported a score of D 60% while YSlow reflected slightly worse at E 58%. The actual page load speed clocked in at 4.6 seconds, which is well below our desired 1 – 2 seconds.
PageSpeed - D 60%
YSlow - E 58%
PageSpeed - B 86%
YSlow - B 83%
SNSP Responsive/Mobile Friendly Design
Responsive or mobile friendly design has become an important part of overall SEO and is a priority for website ranking with Google. “Mobile First” is now the catchphrase and sites are penalized in page rank if it is ignored. Though the WordPress theme installed on the SNSP site contained responsive design elements, it was a deprecated version and thus HTML/CSS techniques caused an error when tested through Google. We corrected these issues by updating the site’s CSS with custom styles designed to ensure a friendly mobile experience.
SNSP SSL Integration
It is increasingly important for websites to utilize a secured connection between client (your browser) and website. SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) and TLS (Transport Layer Security) are cryptographic protocols that authenticate data transfer between servers and users. SSL was the first of this kind of cryptographic protocol. TLS is a recent upgraded version of SSL, however the acronym SSL is used somewhat interchangeably by most hosting providers. Your website will most likely not be trusted by current browsers without an SSL certificate.
SNSP Security and Vulnerability Check
As a final step to ensure that the website installation is up to date and as secure as possible prior to deployment, we run a second diagnostic and security check. This check looks for known software vulnerabilities and includes a domain blacklist check with several trusted services like Google Safe Browsing, Norton Safe Web, Sucuri Malware Labs, and ESET, among others. The SNSP site scan revealed a plugin which posed a security risk; this plugin had been abandoned by its author and was no longer being updated. We removed the plugin and replaced it with an alternative.
WordPress Health and Repair Request Form
dkddi can help you update and optimize your WordPress website.
Submit the form below to request a WordPress Health and Repair assessment.