EXPANDED ACCESS Pantheon Announces New Collaboration with Google Cloud Learn More

WordPress Support: 3 Essential Areas You Need to Cover

Give your support team greater insight into the essential areas of support and common risks associated with maintaining your client's WordPress website(s). 

WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems (CMS) in the world, with 35% of the internet using it. As an open-source platform, it’s an affordable solution for many types of websites, whether it’s for personal use, small businesses, larger corporations, nonprofit organizations, or schools and universities. 

However, once you create a stunning WordPress website and get it running, the work is far from done. From updating website content to making sure the system and plugins stay compatible and up-to-date, maintaining a WordPress website is an ongoing process. WordPress users can undergo performance and other types of audits to make sure their systems are working at peak efficiency. But for more in-depth and personal help optimizing a website, it's a good idea to contact a support team.

Here at Kanopi, we help clients maintain and support their WordPress websites, and we are uniquly positioned to offer insight into essential areas of support and the challenges we often encounter. Ongoing maintenance is obviously necessary, especially if organizations want their websites to last, but support teams can do more than this. They can help keep data fresh and secure, they can help a website scale alongisde company growth, and they can help an organization automate routine tasks, iterate on the work that matters, and collaborate cross-funncitonally on their websites. 

Support teams need to be aware of certain risk factors with common WordPress use cases, which we’ll explore in this guide. We’ll be reviewing the following subjects:

  1. Multisite Networks

  2. Decoupled Architecture

  3. E-commerce

Driving results with a WordPress website is hard work, and it’s no shame to seek outside advice in order to make the most of the platform. In fact, it’s recommended. Let’s begin. 

1. Multisite networks

Multisite networks are a type of WordPress installation introduced with WordPress 3.0 in 2010. Put simply, it allows you to create and manage a network of sites from a centralized dashboard, ranging from just a couple of websites to thousands.

A multisite network is a convenient way to keep track of more than one website, giving you the ability to easily make changes and ensure all websites are updated. While it comes with many benefits and convenient features, it also takes time and effort to manage it correctly and scale your sites reliably. 

Not all support teams have the capabilities to help organizations with their multisite networks, but if multisite networks are something that you tackle, there are a couple of challenges and risk areas that you need to keep in mind. For instance, consider the following:

  • All sites on the network share the same resources. This brings a number of challenges. For instance, when your network is down, all other sites go down as well. Or, if one of your websites gets unexpected traffic, it will also affect the other sites on the network. If one website gets hacked, the other websites in your multisite network are at risk. As a support team, you will need to help your clients manage their sites and set up an infrastructure that aims to minimize those risks.

  • Some WordPress plugins may not work well on a multisite network. You will need to work with your client organizations to find plugins that will work on their network and accomplish their needs.

  • WordPress multisite networks are not supported by all web hosting providers. WordPress support teams need to help their customers find the right web hosting provider, which depends on their unique situation.

  • Having multiple websites in your network can cause inconsistency with themes. Help your clients simplify their architecture by building one theme and making it more customizable and flexible for their network sites.

Multisite networks are a great tool that many WordPress users depend on. In order to support WordPress websites and ensure they’re working properly for the long run, minimizing risks with this feature is crucial. 

2. Decoupled architecture

Decoupled architecture (aka headless) is an increasingly popular choice for WordPress sites. At a high level, it refers to two or more systems that are able to communicate and interact with one another while remaining independent. For instance, a decoupled CMS can allow developers to use modern front-end tools for the display of the website while their editors can use the familiar and powerful WordPress content entry workflow. Traditionally, WordPress is a coupled system, so the front and back end, as well as the content are all in one unified system. 

Many people love a decoupled WordPress system. This type of architecture provides developers with more flexibility when it comes to optimizing their website and setting the foundation for future changes and growth. It allows the client to update and refresh their design without having to re-implement their entire WordPress system.

On top of that, decoupled architecture can result in faster performance, better security, faster integration of third-party systems, and provide a more app-like experience. Content creators only need one system to manage all of their content, but that content so when something is implemented once, it can be used everywhere.

However, decoupling your CMS can also increase your site complexity and make it more difficult to render elements on your site. Support teams will have to consider the following challenges when managing decoupled systems:

  • Increased need for custom code. Since decoupling means that your CMS no longer renders elements to your site, the development team might need to write custom code for the entire front end in order to display the necessary components. WordPress support teams can help, as writing custom code is something that requires experience and the right resources.

  • Increased complexity, depending on your site’s requirements. If your content creators need the ability to preview unpublished content, assign URL aliases, manage meta tags, or create redirects via the CMS, that will be a challenge for a decoupled CMS. Support teams can consider a progressive decoupling strategy or provide new editorial workflows.

  • Technical debt and a new area of specialization. WordPress’s flexible nature means that there’s a proliferation of frameworks and tools out there. A decoupled WordPress system can cause unique challenges that not everyone will be familiar with. For example, when you have your back end on WordPress and your front end on a JavaScript framework, you will need specialists who understand both languages. 

While decoupled architecture is great for more complex sites, sometimes it’s best to just have WordPress render your content. Besides, providing a content application programming interface (API) to your other sites and applications doesn’t mean you need a decoupled CMS. You can still use your WordPress content via a REST API and keep the theme for the providing site on WordPress itself!

3. E-commerce

E-commerce is growing in popularity for lots of website owners, whether it’s more of a personal blog or a larger organization. With WordPress’ e-commerce capabilities, you can run an online store within a website without using any outside systems.

There are a variety of e-commerce plugins to help you and your clients set an online store up quickly and provide you with the necessary functionality. For instance, WooCommerce offers a number of out of the box features that can even be extended with other specialty WordPress plugins.

WordPress support teams know that setting up and managing your e-commerce site can be challenging, and should keep in mind these risks:

  • It can be hard to find a plugin that provides ALL the features you’d like to have on your e-commerce site. Developers might have to sacrifice big ideas or revise their strategy to use what they have available. Support should work closely with developers to find the best plugin for their needs or even help them build custom functionality.

  • E-commerce can be very database intensive, especially as your WP store grows. As a WordPress support team, you can help your customer determine the best time to upgrade servers and other website tools to keep the site from being overwhelmed.

  • WordPress Core and its plugin ecosystem evolve at different rates. This can cause discrepancies from your main system and e-commerce site functionality. Help your customers know when the best time to update core and plugins, and set them up with a roadmap to maintain their e-commerce site.

  • WordPress does not have an encrypted database by default. Ensure your clients are keeping sensitive transaction and personally identifiable information (PII) secured — especially if it will be stored in their WordPress database. 

  • An e-commerce plugin may not be the best fit with your client’s website. A monolithic CMS + e-commerce system is not always the best architectural decision. Support can help determine if a targeted third-party ecommerce solution, like Shopify or BigCommerce, makes more sense. Tools like these are specialized and can be deeply integrated with your WordPress site while providing robust transaction security, functionality, APIs, uptime, and options.

It can be challenging to maintain an e-commerce site. Work with your client to create a defined list of shop and security requirements, and find the plugin(s) best suited to accomplish these goals. And if any customizations are required, make sure those customizations don’t block core and plugin updates.

Above all, organizations and individuals alike will want to partner with a website support agency that truly understands their website goals and continuously works with them to provide a unique solution. Keeping this in mind, as well as acknowledging the three essential areas we covered above, should set your support services and clients up for success. Good luck!

Hero image from Fikret Tozak via Unsplash.

You might also like: 

Topics Agency Partners, WordPress

Let’s get in touch