It is a matter of custom to use a lot of hyperbole when referring to WordPress websites.
The best, biggest, and most popular are some that come to mind readily. They are not untrue. WordPress is the dominant CMS, and the rest are far behind.
But that does not mean your WordPress site would never falter or need maintenance.
If you are a newbie website owner, you might have some problem recognizing the glitch.
Here is a primer about how to recognize that your WordPress site is not working and what to do about it.
Common problems of a failing WordPress website
1. White Screen of Death
The most common WordPress problem to encounter. It is also embarrassing because the user is sure to have bounced away thinking that your URL on the Google search page was plain clickbait.
This usually happens because WordPress has run out of memory. All applications use a certain amount of memory from your desktop/laptop/smart device.
Faulty PHP coding can cause it to need too much and thus prevent the page from loading.
Otherwise, it can happen due to a plugin that is a mismatch for your site.
2. Database Connection Error
WordPress is a CMS or a Content Management System. The frontend displays itself through a browser but it receives information from the backend which is on a server.
The server provides information when needed. a WordPress database contains whatever you have added to a theme e.g.—posts, images, comments, and so on.
The WordPress core files interact with the database through a configuration file written in PHP.
So, for example, the header, footer, and navigation bar are part of the theme files, whereas the text and image content of the page is from a database. If the database cannot communicate, the result is an error.
This may be a problem with the hosting service provider. The server they have assigned to you is not fast enough or is serving too many clients at the same time.
It may also be a problem with the theme. A badly coded theme will cause all sorts of database problems.
Lastly, the database file might be corrupted and needs to be replaced with an intact copy.
3. Multiple 404 Errors
A few pages here and there show a 404 Page Not Found Error.
Any other content can be browsed, but not these pages.
The problem lies with permalinks.
Permalinks are permanent links that are associated with a page. They are descriptive and tell Google about the page content (and the same for users).
For example, a permalink might be www.felineanimals.org/types-of-american-cats
The last part, after the slash is known as a slug. Sometimes when editing a page, the slug might be renamed by mistake.
Open the WordPress editor and check the slug.
4. Sidebar Displaced
The sidebar should be to the left (and sometimes rarely the right) of the content.
Instead, it shows up below the content or elsewhere on the page.
This sort of error is a fault of the theme. If the theme is well known, it is a fault of editing.
Most commonly, the <div> tag is open. It has to be closed with a </div>.
Maybe the WordPress developer was not paying attention and forgot to insert the closing part.
You have to inspect the code and locate the source of the problem. If you are careful and know simple coding, there is no reason why you can’t reset the page to its original structure.
5. Page CSS Not Loading
This is one of the most common problems that a WordPress site will display.
The contents of the page would load perfectly. But the style (font, colour, space) would be missing.
It would all be black and white text that sort of looks like a newspaper.
The problem is invalid CSS code that shows up on browsers. CSS was not formatted properly or CSS files have been hacked and need replacement.
How to troubleshoot WordPress problems
You can carry out a basic maintenance routine to make your site respond swiftly. If the problem is not solved, then a WordPress web design agency needs to take a closer look.
A website is somewhat like an automobile. As an owner, you can carry out some repair tasks, but when in doubt, call in an expert or in this case a WordPress website development team.
1. Backup the site
The importance of this cannot be overstated. You can back up WordPress from the admin panel. It helps if you use a plugin for the backup.
In case something goes horribly wrong, it is the backup XML that will save you months of hard work.
2. Clear the cache
A site may be running from a cache (the stored version of a website), and you might not be aware of that. Over time, a browser builds up its cache. So do hosting services.
Before taking any steps, clear out all caches and history. This will ensure that all cookies and site preferences are deleted for good.
3. Deactivate plugins
Most likely you have MailChimp, Yoast, and a dozen other plugins slaving away to add more functionality to your site.
WordPress plugins are the reason the platform is so popular. But too much of a good thing can sometimes cause a hiccup.
In the control panel, go to plugins and deactivate all of them.
4. Change to a default theme
Themes are the source of most WordPress issues. the reason being they have become code-heavy and unwieldy.
Five years back, themes were attractive and took little effort to execute. Now you would see an i5 processor hit 100% in Task Manager when you load a site.
Head over to Appearance and click on Themes.
The active one and the default themes would show up. Switch to a default theme like 2019.
Your site should work fine now. Of course, the text and images might be a little out of place since the CSS is not optimized, but it should operate perfectly.
Go to Settings. Click on Permalinks. Now, without anything further, click Save Changes. This resets permalinks of your site.
If there was an error, it would be flushed out, and a rewrite should automatically happen.
How to repair the WordPress database
“Error Establishing Database Connection”
Everyone who has run a WordPress site for a few years has encountered this problem at least once.
To connect to the database, WordPress needs basic information—DB name, DB username, DB password, and DB server (local host).
These are stored in the wp-config.php file.
First, make sure that this information is stored correctly.
Now add to the end of the config file the line define(‘WP_ALLOW_REPAIR’, true);
It adds a constant that allows WordPress to repair database tables.
Now open the default browser and go to http://mywebsite.com/wp-admin/maint/repair.php
You would find an option to repair the database or repair and optimize.
It is preferable to use the second one.
Now open wp-config.php once more and remove the line you added define(‘WP_ALLOW_REPAIR’, true);
This will ensure no one else can gain access to your site.
Reload the browser and you are done. There should be no further problems with loading pages and images.
Tip of the iceberg
What we described above are the most basic problems.
A million things can go wrong with WordPress. It’s made of lines of code and sometimes they get corrupted.
If the problem is simple enough, you would be able to handle it yourself.
But there might be deeper issues involved. If the site does not respond to your attempts, someone has to open the hood and peek underneath.
A complete site audit and maintenance is the only way to proceed in that case.
If you are not a full-time web designer and developer, it’s best to call in the cavalry at this moment.
Ask an expert web development agency to take a look and make everything alright again.
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