Common WordPress problems and why they happen

I use WordPress as the foundation for all new websites. WordPress may not be the very best available but for versatility, affordability, support and resources it’s the obvious choice. You’re probably thinking of all the times you’ve heard stories of WordPress problems. It’s true things can go wrong but with good practice, all of these can be avoided. The bad stuff may be one or all of these:

  • Getting hacked
  • Things not working
  • Awful design
  • Difficult to use

WordPress gets hacked

Yes it does, but why? There are a number of reasons why WordPress installations get hacked. The majority of sites that get broken into have out of date software and/or weak passwords. I can’t stress enough how important it is to use a strong password. If you’re in any doubt, follow this advice on passwords.

WordPress has three areas where updates my be needed: Themes, Plugins and the WordPress installation itself. It’s a popular software platform, so hackers are constantly looking for weaknesses. It’s really important to keep up to date by logging in to your WordPress admin and triggering updates.  This is available from the left side admin menu under Dashboard > updates. I’d recommend a minimum of once a month but ideally once a week.

There’s also a chance that if your host isn’t secure enough, a hacker could break in from weakness in the server configuration. If in any doubt choose a security conscious hosting company like Penguin Internet Ltd or WPengine.

Things not working

Again it could be possible there’s a plugin or Theme that’s no longer compatible. Other reasons could be that your theme has some incompatibility with the browser that you’re using. I recently discovered a problem where a complicated Theme had problems with a version of Google Chrome on Mac. Pages randomly failing to load or updates taking a long time to complete could be due to poor quality hosting. If you know you’re on a cheap hosting package, consider an upgrade or moving to a better host.

Although the basic WordPress admin is the same in every instance. The Theme and plugins on your site can make a big difference. Basic WordPress Themes often just leave it to core WordPress system to manage the content but more advanced Themes can play a much bigger part. Here’s my introduction to WordPress Plugins if you’re not familiar.

Awful design

It might just be that your current Theme is just looking a bit tired or not mobile compatible (responsive design). Does it need to be responsive? Yes, Google scores your site higher for mobile compatibility and it’s better for visitors if they need to find your site on their phone or tablet. Website developers often use a ‘mobile first’ technique when designing new websites.

Perhaps you’ve been using your site for years and maybe a few different people have worked on it. After a while things can start looking a bit out of place or scruffy. When a site grows over time and keeping things tidy becomes less of a priority. It might be that your Theme no longer fits your purpose and it’s time for a change. One of the great things about WordPress is that the content (Posts and Pages) is largely separate from the design.

This isn’t to say that you can switch a Theme and everything will be right at the click of a button but you’ll be a long way further than having to copy and paste your content onto a new platform. When applying a new Theme, you might find headings the wrong size and paragraphs in the wrong place. Switching to a new Theme requires some amount of work but the plus points are that you can solve technical niggles, review your content, have a great new design for your site.

Difficult to use

If you’re having trouble using your WordPress and you’re using everything is the way it’s designed to be, there could be a variety of reasons why it’s difficult for you. Perhaps too complicated or maybe not complicated enough and you don’t have enough options. All modern content management systems work in a similar way. Getting comfortable with working on your site could mean you need some changes to your admin system or maybe a little training. There are many WordPress tutorials on YouTube so a little time spent researching could save you hours and days in the future.

If you’re using a Theme with Visual Composer, do you find it easy or difficult? Visual Composer offers some really great options and features but it’s not right for all purposes. I take a view that Visual Composer is most valuable for pages that require more presentation like a homepage and other feature pages. I wouldn’t advise it for regular blog posts or a large amount of information pages. The reason why is that depending on what type of theme you choose in the future, you could have layout problems.

When it’s time to change your site

It’s highly likely that you don’t want your visitors to see your new site while you’re making adjustments after a new theme. The best way of dealing with this is to make a copy of your site on a temporary host space, do the work, then transfer it back when it’s done. There’s a few different ways to do do this but there are some WordPress plugins available that do the job very well. I’ve found ‘All in one WP migration‘ to be very good for this.

If you need help or advice with any of the issues mentioned here, please get in touch