Welcome to my series of quick tips for WordPress bloggers! Please note that nothing I post here will be for experienced users. Instead, the series is just quick little tips that I’ve come across since moving to WordPress. If you happen to have a random question about WordPress, feel free to send me an email and I’ll do my best to hunt down an answer!
This week’s quick tip…errors!
There are all kinds of error messages and issues you may run into when using WordPress, and they are all good at causing panic, but luckily, a little patience and logic can usually hunt down the problem even if you don’t speak a word of html.
The first thing to do when you encounter an error is try again. WordPress isn’t perfect and often you will receive a random error message that will vanish as suddenly as it appeared when you repeat your action. If the error persists, it’s time to think about whether or not you’ve made any recent changes. Most of the time, a Plugin is the cause of the problem and if you’ve just added a new one or updated an old one, finding the issue may be as easy as that.
If you haven’t made any recent changes or if you’ve made quite a few and aren’t sure where to start, it’s time to start using some good old-fashioned logic. Start with a Google search. WordPress has an impressive forum and often you will find that somebody else has had the same problem as you. If you can’t find an answer online, head back to your blog. If you’re getting an error message, check and see if there are any clues within the message itself. Often, the offending Plugin will be listed within the message, making the problem easy to solve.
If your problem isn’t one that results in an error message or if the message doesn’t hold any clues, it’s time to start deactivating Plugins one by one to find out if one of them is causing the problem. But rather than just running through them alphabetically, choose the ones that would be most likely to cause the problem you’re experiencing. If it’s an image problem, start with any photo editing Plugins you have installed. If your comments are acting up, try comment-numbering Plugins. And if you’re having issues with sharing your posts on other networks, deactivate the sharing Plugins before doing anything else.
If you discover that it is a Plugin that is causing your problems, don’t rush to delete it right away. Look through its settings and make sure that they are exactly the way you want them. It may have just been an unchecked box or an unspecified list item that caused your issues in the first place. If the Plugin itself simply isn’t compatible with your site, then delete it and look for another one that offers similar features.
In rare cases, Plugins aren’t the problem. I battled so many issues with my site near the end of 2011 and I learned eventually that they were all due to my incredibly out-of-date theme. But I never would have known that if it hadn’t been for my hosting company. When my site was gobbling up resources, my host was the one that found the problem, temporarily fixed it and told me what had caused it to begin with. So if you’re completely stuck and can’t use your blog the way it is, get in touch with your host! You may find that they know exactly how to solve your problem.
Solving WordPress errors is a matter of trial and error for those of us that don’t know how to analyze code. But a website designer once gave me a piece of advice that I have found to be true time and time again. She said, “First check the Plugins. Then check your Theme and WordPress Settings. Finally, if nothing else works, check with your Host.”
Taking your time, thinking it though and going step-by-step is absolutely essential in eliminating those pesky WordPress errors, so don’t panic. Solving the problem probably won’t be as hard as you thought!