A cartoon person standing in front of a large screen displaying common update icons, such as a cloud with a down arrow and a gear with a percentage value, set against a solid green background.

Technology changes, and sometimes these changes can affect your website, especially if your website relies heavily on certain dependencies like APIs, Content Management Systems (CMS), PHP, or plugins.

So what do you do when a big change happens?

Plan for the Change

Often, software changes aren’t serious for your website and can be routine, until things break. Whenever you see an announcement or news about a software change, inform your developer so you can prepare for any issues before they happen.

Assess the Impact of the Change

You can learn a lot by reading the documentation for the software change. For example, a changelog may offer vital information for you or your developer. In some cases, you may be able to work out the necessary steps before updating your software, but if you are unsure, contact your developer.

Create a Staging Environment for Testing

Never implement large software updates without testing. Using a staging environment allows you to test your website without any risks.

A staging environment is a separate space to investigate and fix any issues that arise.

Developers fixing issues on the staging site should document their process. Documentation can serve as a reference for future software changes and help future developers that may gain access to the website. Document anything you feel is important.

Prepare for the Launch

Preparation for implementing software changes can vary, but here are some tips to follow:

Update the software during a time when your user activity is low. This helps avoid disrupting your user base during peak hours. Also, ensure you or your team have enough time to implement the changes.

After making the software changes live, retest everything in the live environment in case there were issues not caught during staging, sometimes there could be edge case issues that were impossible to replicate in a staging environment.

Embrace the Change

While it can be frustrating when a software change breaks areas of your website, most updates add helpful features and improve security. Keeping your software up to date is crucial for maintaining a healthy, fast, safe, and user-friendly website.

Monitor the Performance

Once the software has been changed or updated, monitor your website. Ideally, everything continues to work as it should, or even better than before. Monitor your website for speed, reliability, and user satisfaction.

Be prepared for some support shakeout in case any issues arise, your users may find bugs that you missed in testing.