Troubleshooting WordPress Problems

Pretty easy to get confused when something breaks.
Pretty easy to get confused when something breaks.

Pretty easy to get confused when something breaks.

Videos not working properly? Can’t drag and drop your widgets into a new sidebar? Can’t even log in?

Chances are you can solve all these problems with some simple troubleshooting.

Update First

The first thing to do when you run into a problem is simple: update your site.

Make sure you’re running the latest version of WordPress, that all your plugins are up to date, and that your theme is current. Most of this you will be able to see just by looking at your dashboard. Some premium themes and plugins, however, won’t notify you in the dashboard, so be sure to visit the developer’s site to check for available updates.

If you’ve updated everything and the site still doesn’t work properly, it’s time to look for the troublemakers.

Plugins – The Most Likely Cause of Trouble

We love plugins because they extend the functionality of the site. We can create interactive calendars, add cool video skins, create stunning menu bars, and hundreds of other things that make the site more user friendly for both the blogger and the reader.

But because WordPress is open source (anyone can read the code and develop plugins) there are thousands of available plugins for it. Obviously, the plugin developers aren’t always chatting with each other, and they’re not always using great programming practices, so conflicts can and do happen.

That’s why the most common resolution for every issue on your site is to systematically disable your plugins and test, test, test.

Here’s how to do that:

Step 1: Delete all those plugins you’re not using. You should do that periodically, anyway, so now is a good time to get rid of them.
Step 2: One-by-one, deactivate remaining plugins. Do not simply check them all and click the “bulk action” deactivate button. If something goes wrong, you won’t know which plugin was the culprit.
Step 3: Test to see if your problem is resolved.
Step 4: If your site works again as expected, reactivate your plugins one at a time, testing after each one, until you isolate the culprit.

Once you’ve determined exactly which plugin is causing the problem, you can either (a) find a different plugin to handle the job, or (b) contact the plugin’s support team for help.

Themes Are Not Innocent

So what if, even after all your plugins are disabled, you’re still having issues? Then it’s time to look at the theme.

To troubleshoot theme issues, first make a note of all your widget placements. Some themes have lots of sidebar areas, and changing themes can cause your widgets and settings to be lost, so you want to document them carefully.

Next, go to your themes manager (in your dashboard it’s listed under the “Appearance” tab) and activate either Twenty Ten, Twenty Eleven, or Twenty Twelve. These are the WordPress default themes, and they should always work without conflict.

If your problem is resolved when one of the default themes is active, then you know it’s a problem caused by your theme. Again, you can either find a different theme, or contact the support team for help.


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