Your WordPress Website Might Be Broken and You Don’t Even Realize It

What WordPress 5.0 means to your WordPress website and what to do about it

A few short years ago you started a business or built a website on WordPress because there was one word that attracted you. That word was “free.” WordPress started out that way and still is free. In my opinion you made an excellent choice for your platform. I was so impressed with WordPress that I became a WordPress developer by studying, taking online courses learning PHP and MySQL and how they work together, etc. I hung my digital shingle and went to work servicing my clients and it has certainly been a great ride. I continue to service my web design and web development clients to this day and will expand my knowledge base and skill set as time goes on. I don’t have any choice but to continue to grow.

In December 2018, WordPress released their much-anticipated Gutenberg editor. It is WordPress’ answer to the page builders out their like Elementor, WPBakery (formerly known as Visual Composer), Beaver Builder and more. It offers block-building featuring video, images and text and a whole lot of other goodies that were previously found in page builders. I am just learning about it now and plan on being up to speed by hopefully…yesterday.

Page builders that offer “drop-and-drag” elements require a lot of JavaScript. Gutenberg implements a new technology called React.js (unless I am mistaken). For novices, this is a dream come true. You now have a page builder that is more responsive, free and allows more capabilities without a plugin. For developers it is a time to decide if going into real estate might be a better thing to do. It is an entirely new technology invented by the nice people at Facebook. I love a challenge, so I say “game on!”

For others this is the dawn of a whole new set of decisions for your website. Here is just a little of what I have experienced as a developer in the last couple of weeks.

1. Your Outdated Visual Composer Plugin is Dead

If you are running your website on an outdated version of Visual Composer and not updating your WordPress install, your site is toast. It can be fixed (I recommend overhauled) but it is going to require effort and money on your part. I was recently working on a client website that was running an old version of visual Composer and WordPress 4.9.7. I recommended fixing those things before working on anything further. My contact declined stating that the client was “on a tight budget.” By the way, to developers that means the client is financially broke and a broke client isn’t a client. They’re a charity. I was making some seemingly simple CSS changes and adding a media query and the site started breaking. My contact told me the second website project was in worse shape. I returned the code I changed, refunded any money spent, and ended the contract.

If you don’t have the most recent page builder plugin (if you went that route) and the most recent WordPress update, your site is most likely broken already. If not, it is wide open to hackers and at risk of breaches of security.

2. If WordPress 5.0 Broke Your Site Here is One Way to Fix It

You did everything right, maintain all your plugins, watch your website performance and WordPress 5.0 still broke your website? The first thing to do is to install the Classic Editor plugin. That should restore your site to its former glory. It worked with this site and several other personal sites I own. This will put off the inevitable transformation your website must go through when WordPress pulls support for the Classic Editor. Gutenberg is here to stay and if you are a WordPress website owner, you must evolve with new technology. That means more investment of time and money on your part.

3. You Haven’t Updated Your WordPress version to the Latest Version

If you are working with a “marketing professional” who is telling you not to upgrade your WordPress site to the latest version, FIRE THEM IMMEDIATELY! Without upgrading your WordPress version, you are leaving yourself open to being hacked. Hackers may not take down your whole site. They may just attach a little code to your .htaccess file that redirects mobile users to porn sites. It happened to me, it can happen to you. Building on an old version of WordPress is just building a broken site. It may not completely fall apart before your “marketing professional’s” payment has transferred from your bank account, but it will just be a matter of time.

With all the new changes in web technology, it is vital that your web presence needs to be maintained by a professional developer. Your website will not last forever. Servers will upgrade technology and just in the last two years, code has changed a lot and it is not slowing down anytime soon. If you have any questions about your website, email me at michael@michaelneely.net or call me at (404) 838-6211. I’m a web developer and I’ll be happy to help you with your website.

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Michael Neely

Michael Neely is web designer and web developer living between Atlanta and the Fort Lauderdale/Miami area.