Despite being the world’s most popular blogging platform, WordPress still has its fair share of problems that are beyond irritating to deal with – especially if you can’t figure out what caused them in the first place.
Whether you’re a WordPress newbie or an advanced user with several years of experience, you’re bound to run into problems from time to time. Almost anyone can get by with using WordPress on an extremely basic level – and many people certainly do – but when you start to get serious about customizing your site, lots of little things can easily get in the way and begin to cause trouble.
The number of problems you might encounter while working with WordPress is truly limitless, but here are ten issues that most users have probably encountered at least once or twice, along with the solutions required to fix them!
Plugins That Conflict With One Another
Plugins can be both a blessing and a curse. All it takes is for one plugin to start causing serious problems with another, and it can cause all sorts of problems with your site.
If you didn’t create a backup of all the plugins you installed and you updated them all at the same time, you’ll have to do some detective work to see which specific one is responsible for the conflict.
Depending on the problem and the amount of plugins you have, this can be pretty time consuming.
Start by deactivating all of your plugins except the one that’s experiencing problems. Then reactivate each plugin one by one, checking the state of your site between each to see if it’s that one causing the conflict.
When you identify the plugin that’s causing the conflict, you’ll either have to get rid of it, find a similar plugin to replace it, or possibly try to find a previous version (if updating it has caused the issue). You can also search for solutions from users who’ve experienced similar problems if the developer of the plugin has a support page or community forum.
Someone Using the Admin Username and Login Page to Hack Your Site
When a WordPress site is first set up, it typically sets your username to admin and enables you to log in at http://sitename.com/wp-login.php. All a hacker needs to do is head over to your login page, which is obvious and easy for them to find, so they can start guessing your password either manually or by using software.
To prevent those nasty hackers from getting in so easily, you should go ahead and create another user by navigating to Users > Add New from your WordPress admin area. Fill in the information, and under Role make sure you set it to Administrator. Remember to use a completely different email address from the original admin user.
Now you have a brand new administrator and you can delete the original one. To do that, log out and log back in with your new user credentials. Go to Users > All Users and hover your mouse over the original admin user to click on the Delete link that pops up. You can then choose to delete all of their content (if any was posted) or have it attributed to your new account before you confirm deletion.
Constant Updates for Plugins, Themes, and WordPress Versions
It’s almost as if every time you log in, something needs to be updated. If you have a lot of plugins installed or use a popular theme, those updates may be more frequent.
Obviously, updates are released for a reason, and you should stay on top of them if you want to keep your site as secure as possible. One way to do that is to schedule time every week, or at least every month, to update all the plugins, themes, and WordPress versions that require updating as part of your regular WordPress maintenance tasks.
You could also take advantage of one of the many plugins available for this type of problem if you take backups regularly and you’re fine with the risks of automatic updating.
The WP Updates Settings plugin enables you to set major automatic core background updates, minor automatic core background updates, plugin updates, and theme updates.
Spam Comments That Get Out Of Control
If you have a WordPress site, chances are you’ve had to deal with spam comments. Your site can be brand new without any traffic at all, and somehow, spam will find a way to start infiltrating your comments section. To combat this, there are a variety of measures you can take.
Moderate comments: In your WordPress admin, head over to Settings > Discussion and use the Before a comment appears options to hold back spammy comments for you to moderate first. You can also hold comments that contain a certain number of links or include specific words. Add words to your Blacklist section to keep specific spam comments out.
Close comments on old posts: In the Discussion area there’s a checkbox option labeled “Automatically close comments on articles older than X days”, found in the Other comment settings. Customize it as you see fit.
Use anti-spam plugins: There are loads of great plugins out there that can make your comment moderation tasks a heck of a lot easier. Check out this list of 10 Plugins That Take the Pain Out of Managing WordPress Comments.
The White Screen of Death
It’s quite common to be working in WordPress, only to experience a blank page after installing something new or making some sort of change. If you’re lucky, sometimes you can take a step back (if you can still access your WordPress admin) and undo whatever caused the white screen of death.
It often stems from a plugin or a theme. If you’re certain it’s from a theme or plugin, but can’t access your WordPress admin, you can do some troubleshooting via FTP.
After making sure you have a backup of your site, navigate to the appropriate directory and delete or simply rename the plugin or theme you know caused the problem. That may (or may not) be all you need to do to fix it.
If you’re not sure what’s giving you the white screen of death, you’ll need to dig around a bit deeper. Follow the steps outlined in this article, Troubleshooting White Screen of Death Errors in WordPress.
Getting Locked Out of WordPress When the Password Reset Doesn’t Work
When you forget your login password and try to reset it, sometimes WordPress just doesn’t cooperate. It’s a fairly common issue.
The good news is that you’re not locked out for good, and you can reset your password from phpMyAdmin. You’ll need your site’s database name, so if you’re not sure what that might be, you can find it in your wp-config.php file by accessing it via FTP. Whatever comes after ‘DB_NAME’ is the name of your database.
From your cPanel, access phpMyAdmin and click the appropriate database name from the left. From the list of tables that appear, click on wp_users.
After that, click on the pencil icon to the right of user_login to start resetting your password.
A new set of fields will appear, and the one you’ll need to edit is the user_pass Value. It’s a bunch of random letters, numbers, and symbols. The reason why you see these random characters is because WordPress stores them as MD5 Hash for security purposes, so you’ll have to convert your new password to MD5 Hash too.
You can use this free tool to automatically convert your password to MD5 Hash. Simply type your new password (in plain text) into the Input field, press the MD5 button, and then copy the characters you get in the Result field. Go back to phpMyAdmin to paste it into your user_pass Value field.
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Click go at the bottom to save everything and you’re done. Remember to keep your password in a safe place so you don’t forget it again!
Slow Loading Images
The internet is all about visual content these days. And with so many amazing WordPress themes now available that put your images front and center, it’s kind of a bummer when they don’t load right away or end up slowing your whole site right down.
The real key is to optimize all your images before you upload them to WordPress. Yes, it takes some extra time, but it will be worth it if it means your site and images will load faster. There are at least three things you should be doing:
- Resizing: There’s no need to upload a 7,360 by 4,912 pixel image when you want it to show up 15 times smaller than that. There are tons of free tools online that enable you to resize images, but your computer should have one already. If you’re on a Mac you can use the Preview tool, and on a Windows machine you can use Paint.
- Cropping: In many cases, you won’t need to display an image in its entirety. Crop out the edges or sections that are irrelevant. Again, both Preview for Mac or Paint for Windows are all you need to do this.
- Compressing: Compression reduces the size of the image file by removing unnecessary information without changing the appearance as far as what the human eye can see. For most images, you’ll typically want to stick with using JPG files as opposed to PNGs or GIFs.
For a more detailed list of image optimization tips, have a look at The Complete Guide to Mastering Image Optimization for WordPress. Our own WP Smush is also a recommended plugin to check out if you’re serious about reducing your image file sizes and improving the overall performance of your site.
Facebook Posts Not Displaying Correct Image
Depending on what theme you’re using, sometimes the wrong image will get pulled by Facebook when you try to post a link on your site. It may use an image from the middle of your post and not the featured image, or it may even use one from your sidebar or somewhere else. Strange and annoying!
A simple solution is the Facebook Thumb Fixer plugin, which tells Facebook to pull the featured image from your posts. You can also set up a default image for posts or pages that don’t have featured images.
If you’re serious about promoting your site via Facebook, you can also check out WPMU DEV’s Ultimate Facebook plugin, which not only fixes the image post problem, but offers you a range of other powerful Facebook integration features too.
Themes or Plugins That Look Great on Desktop, but Awful on Mobile
As much as you’d like to assume that everything these days will look fantastic on all screens and devices, that’s not always the case when it comes to WordPress. So don’t settle on a theme or plugin by looking at it from one screen only.
Most themes that are released nowadays are responsive or mobile-optimized, but not all of them are. Likewise, plugins don’t always look all that nice on a smaller smartphone or tablet screen, even if they still work fine. There are a few things you can do to ensure you don’t waste time or money on setting up a theme or plugin that doesn’t look good everywhere.
Check the date of the last updated version. In most cases, the sales page or download page for the theme or plugin you’re eyeing will have a version number and the date when it was last updated.
If it hasn’t been updated in several months to a year, you’d probably be better off looking for an alternative.
Search for the words “responsive” or “mobile.” If a theme or a plugin has been made with mobile design in mind, then it almost always says so on its sales or download page. Use keyboard shortcuts Ctrl+F (for Windows) or Command+F (for Mac) to type and immediately find key words.
Test your site on different screens. If you have a smartphone or tablet, then it would be wise to use them to visit your site and see how it looks. Check posts, pages, the sidebar, the comments, the header, and the footer for any inconsistencies. You can also use a free tool like MobileTest.me to see how your site looks on all different types of devices.
Inconsistent Formatting When You Switch Between the Visual Editor and Text Editor
If you prefer to write your content in a word processing program first and then copy it and paste it into WordPress later, you’ve probably experienced just how much of a mess that can make your formatting. Even if you do decide to create most of your work directly in WordPress, inserting specific code or other formatting can quickly break or disappear completely if you switch back and forth between the visual editor and the text editor.
For those who like to copy and paste their work into WordPress, an obvious solution would be to just write your content including all of the HTML code, and then simply copy and paste directly into the text editor. Be careful with switching to the visual editor afterward, which could risk messing it up.
If you’re looking for a more direct solution, you could try the TinyMCE plugin. This handy plugin gives you more control over your editor and solves some of those formatting issues by giving you several more settings to customize the editor. SyntaxHighlighter Evolved is another plugin recommended for developers who are serious about displaying code snippets in their posts.
It’s no fun to have to deal with any of these issues when they pop up unexpectedly, and even though they can take up a lot of extra time to figure out, they’re certainly not impossible to solve. You’ll find your site runs a lot smoother if you implement some of our steps when you first set up your WordPress site, rather than waiting.
What other common WordPress problems would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below!