We all know the challenges of updating your WordPress site. In fact, I find so many outdated plugins and themes on clients’ sites because they are terrified, not knowing what will happen if they attempt an update.
I spend a lot of my time with clients and students talking about the importance of keeping everything updated. At times I sound like a broken record. But for some, I need to repeat it again and again.
Of course, it goes without saying that we always want to make sure we have a backup ready to revert to if something major explodes and you get the white screen of death.
But what about all those little things that can quickly change or go wonky?
WP BOOM to the Rescue
Let’s say you do some updates. And if you have a large site—or even anything bigger than a dozen pages— after updating you go through and start looking for the little changes that happened. Maybe it’s something to do with formatting. Or the simple widget in the sidebar has dramatically changed—or stopped working. It can be very time-consuming to track down all those details.
Even worse? You don’t find them all and someone on Twitter publicly has to let you know—and everyone else in the world— that something is not working.
Or imagine as a developer or designer you are managing dozens of sites. Wouldn’t it be great to find out what has changed on all of them, and go in and fix what is needed, rather than looking at page after page to make sure all is well?
Imagine a Snapshot Comparison
WPBoom is in beta right now, but it’s a new service that does exactly that. It takes a snapshop of your site. So when you update, you can do a second snapshot and it will tell you what has changed. Then you can fix it!
That’s pretty slick, huh?
Setup is Easy
Once you have created an account and you login, you get the option to add a new site.
Add a Site
Adding a site is very easy. No complicated settings to have to search for. Just click on add a site and you get this screen. Put in your URL, name your site and add tags (which are optional).
When you click create site, you will return to the previous screen and, depending on the size of your site, you will see the percentage climb until the snapshot is complete and, of course, since there was no previous snapshot, there is 0% change.
Update Your Site
Now we are going to the site to do the updates. As you can see, I have a few that are needed. So I checked them all and kept my fingers crossed. Nothing blew up, but as I mentioned before, I can’t say for sure if all is 100% well on the front-end.
Return to WP Boom for Another Snapshot
Now I go back into my account and click on the camera icon to take another snapshot.
Once the second snapshot is returned, I get my my results. 0% change. But I am going to click on the site name to get a more detailed report just to double check.
As you can see, I have a 1% change on one page. The reason it is showing a 0% on the previous screenshot is that it’s the overall site change and when only 1% of one page changes, that is less than the overall 0%. So it’s worth checking the report.
The report gives us a few options. The first one is the difference, and the other two give you a chance to see the old and new shot. Looking at the changes that were made, you can see a slight change in the contact widget where I’m using Gravity Forms. Not much and nothing to worry about. So I feel confident with the latest updates.
Changing Your Theme
Just to see what would happen, I thought I would switch themes. We all know what happens when you do this and most of the times the changes are very obvious and expected: font changes, layout, etc. But as you can see, when I did switch themes, I ended up with 8% changes.
And if we look at the results, it’s interesting to see how much each page did change with the new theme. In fact, we will see that some new pages were created as well.
If we click to view one of these pages, for example, the about page, we see all the changes that were the result of a theme change with the Show Diff option. These are obviously not bad changes, but this may help you to understand just how much your site has changed when switching the theme. Also, as you can see, you are able to see the old snapshot and the new snapshot as well.
Something to keep in mind. My percentage was pretty low considering it was a theme change. But depending on your current theme, and your new one, you could easily see many more changes that have taken place.
Weekly Email Report
Every week, you will get a report that automatically snapshots your sites and lets you know if anything changes. This is great if you have any auto-updates set in place, or your host is pushing automatic updates. Here is a sample shot of what you can expect.
WP Boom. My Final Thoughts.
From the last example, WP Boom can obviously help you with changing your theme. But I find the real strength is in those updates, which is what the service is intended to address. The ease of finding those little, or semi-big issues that may get overlooked after updating, is well worth the service in itself.
You can learn more about WP Boom and try it for free here. Give it a shot. because as nothing can make like easier than help when updating your WordPress site.