If you’ve been using WordPress for a while on your website, it’s likely you’ve run into some kind of issue.
Whether it’s a
- Design problem
- Configuration setting
- Issue with a plugin or theme
it can be time-consuming to track down what’s causing the problem.
I can attest to that.
Working with WordPress since 2006, I’ve had plenty of troublesome WordPress issues to resolve for my clients as well as myself.
Which was why I was interested in Abby Buzon’s Uh oh: Troubleshooting Common Problems in WordPress presentation at WordCamp Kent 2020.
Buzon shared helpful tips and actionable steps to take when you encounter problems on your WordPress site.
Here are my notes.
Uh-oh: Troubleshooting Common Problems in WordPress
- Can’t begin to talk about troubleshooting problems without talking about how to prevent problems in the first place. Prevention can set yourself up for success.
- First step: have regularly scheduled backups. Find a service or plugin that will backup your site. Shoutout for ManageWP (which I use for my client sites), which does free monthly automated backups. Spend $1.80/month for automated daily backup.
- Choose a reputable web host. Good hosting isn’t only faster, it has additional benefits for support and backup.
- Use a reliable theme. Don’t use Google to find a WordPress theme, visit the WordPress theme repository.
- For plugins, review carefully what your needs are. Abby recommends adding code snippets rather than install a plugin. (My concerns for adding code snippets: anytime you add a custom code snippet, you’re responsible for maintaining and updating that code snippet. Are you familiar enough with code to maintain it?)
- Research any plugin you want to use: is it currently maintained? Does it have good ratings? Good support? Read the reviews and support questions.
- For setup issues from setting up a site, migrating a site, launch. If you get a 400 Bad Request error when viewing a page, try clearing your cache.
- Getting a 404 error? It’s possible there’s an issue with permalinks. In WordPress Dashboard go to Settings > Permalinks, and save permalinks twice.
- When you receive 500 errors, take a look at your .htaccess file. Did you make changes recently. Try renaming .htaccess to .hataccess-old and reloading the site.
- The WordPress community is helpful. Check for help on WordPress.org forums as well as StackOverflow.
- Design issues could be caused by a plugin update. Which you don’t discover until a couple weeks after you added the plugin. Great tool to uncover what’s happening with a design issue: use the browser dev tools. Allows you to see what CSS is applied and what scripts are applied.
- One of the most common steps for troubleshooting WordPress issues: disable all plugins and switch to a default Twenty-xxx theme. Then enable plugins one by one to see if the issue is resolved.
- Document your steps to troubleshoot. If you need to contact a developer or your host, you’ll have information to share on what steps you took to troubleshoot.
- Clear your cache. Which can mean browser cache, caching plugin, CDN cache. If you’ve made DNS (Domain Name Server) changes, Buzon recommended trying a different connection, which often works. (Personal note: I recommend flushing the DNS cache on your digital device).
- Search for the exact error phrase (with quotes) on your favorite search engine. Read forum discussions. Can’t find any results? Refine your search and search again.
- Assume it’s user error. Take a deep breath, recommends Buzon. Retrace your steps and you’ll find your answer.