In the phase of developing a new wordpress-based site, I'm evaluating also future pitfalls such as upgrades. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that a third party plugin will not be discontinued. But that's how it works! There are two possible options:

1) Develop a tight robust site, with no future updates, and cross your fingers (hackers)

2) struggle to keep updated the site, and cross your fingers (what if plugin support is dropped?)

Is there a third option?

  • 1
    You begin obviously choosing popular plugins, and unless you're high on budget you are forced to use third party ones (why reinvent the wheel?). But the risk is there
    – Riccardo
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 23:25

2 Answers 2


3) Relax. You will have to update WP core anyway, so some work is inevitable. If a plugin is discontinued there usually will be an alternative. The most important thing is not to use plugins that require shortcodes in individual posts, because if these are discontinued that will really break your site.

Apart from plugins you will also have to worry about your theme, which may use functions that will be deprecated in future version of WP core.

  • Updating WP core with minor releases seems to be fine. The tough part comes when you have to upgrade to major versions.... Questions: How do you know your theme will be risky? To help answers further on, I may declare my "shopping list": theme: educationwp. Plugins: wpml, user role editor, admin menu editor, newsletter, contact forms
    – Riccardo
    Commented May 8, 2016 at 16:03
  • @Riccardo Have exact copy of production version on local machine and use a local database with dummy data. This will take the first hit on major versions. It will not solve all the problems (e.g related to traffic) but it will eliminate all incompatibility problems between plugins and core itself.
    – N00b
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:25
  • I always use an offline version for testing purpose. Not sure how much it will help... Surely you will know exactly weather you may upgrade or not
    – Riccardo
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:29
  • I always isolate my theme as much as possible from WP functions by declaring my own (eg. mytheme_get_template()), so if something happens to get_template(), I only have to fix my functions.php file. If I only use a small subset of a large plugin I try to implement my own as well. Larger plugins tend to be better maintained.
    – cjbj
    Commented May 9, 2016 at 20:35

Write the functionality you need in your own plugin(s). Those can be submitted to the official plugin repo and maintained by you, or you can write one off plugins (what I usually do) that are client specific and never hit a public code base. You also need to think about the plugin. Does it only have 500 active users and hasn't been updated in two years? Probably should stay away, regardless of the quality of the plugin right now. Is it contact form 7 or something like that? Go ahead. These are factors in a decision to use third party software in any project, WordPress or no.

Usually I offer some sort of maintenance contract to clients. Sometimes they want to do that, sometimes they just want a fire and forget site. Depending on that and other things, I may set WordPress to fully auto update core and everything else or I may set it to never auto update, or anything in between.

The key is to communicate to your clients/boss what the end product they're getting is and how maintenance will be handled (or won't be) in the future. You need to be upfront that WordPress is evolving software that needs to updated, and to explain that this is in fact a good thing, as it means bugs, security vulnerabilities, etc will addressed in a timely manner. Communicate all the relevant details to your clients/boss and let them make the decision, don't make it for them.

  • Good points here, however some popular plugins may be too complicated to maintain by you. Maybe you could offer to the customer an option to maintain the site, assuming that it may require to replace a plugin with others (with all the consequences that entails)
    – Riccardo
    Commented May 7, 2016 at 23:21

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