A common question for new WordPress designers/developers is how to handle plugin upgrades and upgrades of WordPress itself. To illustrate the meaning behind this question, consider the following real-life example. I recently logged into a client site for maintenance to find that someone had “attempted” an upgrade of WordPress, but that it had failed:
An automated WordPress update has failed to complete - please attempt the update again now.
For the past two years, this particular client had been great about ignoring the “Upgrade Now” nag and just waiting until the next scheduled maintenance (I usually check & update things every six weeks or so). But for some reason, one of the site’s Admins felt the need to click the Update button and give it a shot. And the auto-update failed.
I think one of the reasons why they acted instead of waiting is that the WP-upgrade message to the current version (3.0.4) included a message that emphasized that it was an urgent/important upgrade (because of the security issues with 3.0.3). I don’t have proof of this, or a copy of this most recent update message, but I’m thinking that the client saw that message and just sort of panicked, not knowing what to do.
Needless to say, my clients are now advised that I am only a tweet away from helping out in such emergencies, and that they should not attempt to upgrade anything themselves, regardless of how utterly easy the upgrade process seems to be. I'm sure others have different opinions on this.
Should clients update their own sites?
So that’s all pretty anecdotal, but after receiving numerous emails on the topic, I thought it would be helpful to put the idea out there and hear what other WordPress designers think about letting clients upgrade their own sites.
Surely, the answer depends on many factors, including the client’s experience with WordPress, web design, and so on, but my guess is that most clients choose WordPress because it so easy to use, not because they are the world’s most tech-savvy Admins. I guess my point here is that a majority of WordPress users aren’t adequately prepared to deal with an emergency if the “easy update” doesn’t go as planned.
What do you think?
Should clients be instructed to update their own sites? Just press the button and hope for the best? Updates usually go smooth, but you can’t assume that they always will. Case in point is the Admin who tried upgrading before I could log in and do it myself. They probably saw the update-now message and thought something like this:
- Well, that certainly sounds important
- Well, that certainly looks easy enough
And so then they click the button and give it a try. If it works, then great, everything works out and nobody skips a beat. If the upgrade fails on the other hand, the site could crash and data could be lost. In my opinion, WP & plugin updates should only be handled by someone who understands what they are doing, takes the time to check for issues, and knows how to fix things if/when necessary. But that’s just one opinion – what’s yours?