Sometimes the hardest part of using WordPress is knowing where to turn when things go wrong. It helps to know where to turn when you need WordPress support.
There are any number of situations where you will find yourself needing WordPress support. Between your theme, the plugins you’ve installed, and WordPress itself, figuring out where to turn for help can be a challenge.
This guide will help you find support for your WordPress website.
Diagnosing Your WordPress Support Needs
Before you go looking for help, you need at least a general idea of what problem you’re trying to solve.
Gather as many facts as possible. Include any error messages you’ve seen and what you before the problem occurred. Did you change your theme, install a plugin, or changing a setting?. Be sure to note anything that might have contributed to the problem.
In cases where your site isn’t actually broken, you’ll need to think about why you need help in the first place. Maybe you’re not happy with the font size. Or perhaps want to move the sidebar from right to left.
If you’re having trouble identifying the problem, write your problem out in a sentence or two. Then use that to consult the troubleshooting guide below.
Each support category below includes some tips on identifying your problem.
In Case of Emergency — Don’t Panic!
Is your site completely busted? Maybe you see the infamous White Screen of Death instead of your home page. It’s likely that something went wrong when installing or updating a theme or plugin. Follow the instructions in this video to get your site back online.
Web Hosting Problems
Your web hosting company should be able to help you with a broad range of issues that can prevent your site from working properly. The best web hosts offer excellent support. If yours doesn’t, it’s time to consider moving to a web host that provides the support you need.
Web hosting problems include anything related to setting up your domain on your web hosting account. That includes things like problems with:
- Mysterious server errors.
- Database connection errors.
- Creating a new database.
- Transferring files (either using WordPress or FTP). For example, if you’re trying to upload a file through WordPress, you may see a “maximum upload size” warning. That’s something you should contact your web host about.
If you’re experiencing any of these problems, don’t hesitate to contact your web host’s support desk.
In fact, whenever you’re not sure what your problem is, it can’t hurt to contact your web host as the first line of support. Even if your problem isn’t hosting related, a good web host will help you diagnose the issue.
Whatever you do, don’t blame yourself for breaking something. I’ve seen far too many people put off asking for help because they assumed they must have done something wrong. Many times the issues in question are easily resolved with a simple support request.
Note: If you use WordPress.com, be sure to contact WordPress.com support.
General WordPress Support
For problems related to WordPress there are any number of places you could go for help. The first step in figuring out where to turn is to identify your problem. Is it related to the built-in WordPress functionality? Or a WordPress add-on such as a plugin or your theme.
We’ll start by looking at some challenges that are common to all WordPress sites regardless. It doesn’t matter what theme or plugins you’re using.
This category of problems includes:
- Creating posts and pages
- Publishing posts and pages (including scheduling of posts, post status, and post authors)
- Using categories and tags
- Comments and comment moderation
- Working with the media library
- WordPress settings
- Importing and export exporting WordPress posts (including complete site migration)
- Setting up an alternate home page
- Adding a blog to your website
- Some post and page formatting issues. If your pages are not looking right when you view your site, your problem is likely theme related.
Your success in dealing with these problems depends on your knowledge of how WordPress. A little WordPress training goes a long way.
Even experienced WordPress user encounter problems they don’t know how to solve. When WordPress has you completely stumped I recommend the following resources:
- The official WordPress.org support forum. One of the best things about WordPress is the generous community of helpful users. Thousands of WordPress users and experts check-in on the forums every day. This is one of the first places to go when you’re stuck and need help.
- The WordPress.com forums. Is your site on WordPress.com? If so, be sure to consult the forum for that version of WordPress. You’ll find a similar level of community support and enthusiasm. The .com version of WordPress has some limitations (you can’t install plugins, and you don’t have access to your web server in the same way you do with the .org version).
- The WP Apprentice member forums. WP Apprentice is a complete training resource with several levels of WordPress instruction. We offer support in an exclusive members-only forum. We’re happy to help our members diagnose and solve their WordPress problems. It’s all part of the WordPress learning process.
WordPress Theme Problems
Your active WordPress theme controls your site design and layout. That includes font face, font size, text color, theme colors, page layout, the positioning of design elements, and sidebar locations. If you’re having problems with any of those things, then you’re looking for theme support.
One quick test you can try to see if your problem is theme related: Try changing your active theme to one of the default Twenty themes. If the problem goes away, then you know it’s related to your theme.
One common scenario: You buy a commercial theme. After installing it, you realize your site looks nothing like the demo site.
First, consult your theme’s documentation. Good documentation will answer many of the most common theme questions. If there is any documentation, you should be able to find it where you downloaded the theme.
If the documentation doesn’t answer, your questions try using the designer’s official support channel.
For free themes, check WordPress.org to see if your theme has a support forum (most do). Search for your theme in the official WordPress.org theme directory. Then click the “view support forum” button in the right column.
WordPress Plugin Problems
Plugins have the power to completely alter the way WordPress works. As a result, plugins are a likely culprit anytime things go wrong.
If you’re not sure which plugin is causing the problem, you’ll have to do a bit of detective work. You’ll have to deactivate your plugins one-by-one. If you have a lot of plugins, this can be time-consuming.
Fortunately, there’s a shortcut. But it requires a bit of technical know-how…
If you can access your server using FTP, it’s possible to disable all your plugins at one time by renaming the WordPress plugin folder. You can find your plugins under the /wp-content/plugins/ folder. Change the name of that folder and WordPress will automatically disable all plugins (I usually add an “x” at the beginning of the folder name). Just be aware that this is an extreme measure and you might break something else in the process.
You can restore functionality any time by restoring the original plugin folder name.
Most good plugin and theme developers will let you see the documentation before you buy. Be sure to take a look at the documentation before you buy. You don’t have to read it all. You just want to make the documentation exists and that it’s there for you when you need it.
Are you having trouble getting a plugin to do what you need it to do? Or maybe you’ve installed a plugin and don’t have a clue how it’s supposed to work. Try the following:
As with themes, one of the first things you should consult is the plugin’s documentation.
- If it’s a commercial plugin, check the developer’s support forum. When you pay for a commercial WordPress product, you’re really paying for support. If you’re having problems with your plugin, the seller should be available to help you.
- For free plugins, check WordPress.org to find the plugin’s support forum. First, search for the plugin in the official WordPress.org plugin directory. Then click the “view support forum” button in the right column.
Help! I Don’t Have Time For Any Of This.
If you’re not the DIY type, you probably just want to hand your problem off to someone who knows what they’re doing.
Every WordPress website owner should have a skilled WordPress person they can turn to when they need a bit of help. Fortunately, WordPress is the most popular web building system in the world. There’s a lot of WordPress support available.
- WP Curve is a great option for WordPress site owners who need help on an ongoing basis. For a low monthly fee, WP Curve will help you with an unlimited number of small WordPress assignments (installing plugins, running updates, making small changes to your theme, etc.). And they’re available 24/7 to help you with your WordPress challenges.
- Friends and family. Ask around. You might be surprised to learn that someone close to you (or their niece or nephew) is a budding WordPress expert.
- Does a local school have an intern program? If so, you may be able to find a student who knows WordPress and is willing to help out in exchange for class credit.
A little bit of WordPress education goes a long way towards dealing with the annoying problems.
Need a better understanding of WordPress? Signup for our free WordPress Quick Start course and learn the basics in about an hour.