Website software updates over time have become more and more necessary.
Websites run off of software, and software is the code that makes websites function. Historically, websites were more straightforward or simple, and it was more likely that there was just one in-house developer or group of people developing the website. Website software was more simple, controlled and straightforward, and websites were less robust.
Organizations that produced websites were able to control their website and keep it secure. This is because their website had unique software that they had developed in-house, so hackers had less opportunity to exploit the business due to the uniqueness of the source code. For many websites, minimal software updates were required because the website was a custom application developed in-house with minimal use of third-party software.
However in the current day, more is expected from websites than ever before, which means that more parties are pulled on for each piece of special, unique software to add more functionality. Websites continue to grow in size, features and complexity.
And on that note, software development is an expanding field, and that’s because our world is more software dependent than ever before.
Lots of companies develop little pieces of software that are aggregated into lots of different websites. All of this different software has to integrate and play nicely together. For example, many websites are made up of dozens of different pieces of software called plugins. Plugins are made by different development companies. So imagine having a busy kitchen with dozens of cooks all working vigorously and each doing specific jobs. There’s room for error in the hand-offs and communication between all the cooks. That’s the same way in software development.
When this software is updated, there is risk of parts of software from one development company conflicting with software from a different developer. Since everything is being patched and updated over time, the entire website is shifting and changing. That’s because there are so many different organizations and individual developers that are all releasing updates to their software, and all of these little pieces become a final combined piece of software which is the final website. The software is then expected by end users to all work together seamlessly.
However, the software is more likely to have conflicts because different parties may step on each others’ toes. Once again, it’s the “too many cooks in the kitchen” analogy. But in order to meet demand for more robust websites, there is increased risk of software bugs, and this means that software updates are a required part of the website’s lifecycle. Once a finished product is in the hands of an end-consumer, there is a required and expected process of software updates. These updates are released by the developers for two reasons:
- New features are released.
- Problems are being fixed.
So with all of that being said, let’s look at some common ways to manage software updates.
Solution: Never apply software updates because the website is working fine as is.
Problem: Run the risk of being hacked from using outdated software.
Solution: Auto-update everything.
Problem: Parts of the website may break due to software conflicts.
Solution: Occasional update
Problem: Risk of being hacked and parts of the website breaking.
Solution: Wait until problems and then fix them.
Problem: Bad branding, hack possibility, could be broken for long periods of time without realizing it.
With all of that being said, we’ve found an approach that seems to solve the major problems imposed by necessary software updates. We believe that the only way to really stay on top of changing software and technology is to have processes in place for monitoring and education, scheduled updates, regular backups, restoration and testing/staging.
Learn more about our website integrity offering.