Recently I had 2 occasions to request support about issues related to plugins. Both of my requests were responded to promptly.
The first request was to ask about simple installation instructions for a gallery plugin. It was a paid plugin so I did not have any concerns asking for help. I got an email back with exactly what I needed.
The second request was responded to within a 3 hour timeframe. My issue was more complex-but not urgent. While I originally thought my problem was related to the plugin, I was wrong.
It was more of a problem caused by my input of custom fields labels which the plugin was to display. The Conductor* support crew noticed the issue that was causing my concerns and I was able to take the support feedback to make an efficient repair. The extra set of eyes on my work saved me oodles of time and helped me get on the right path.
Note: Resolving the issue required some light housekeeping work in the database controlling my website.
If you are self-managing a website powered by software from WordPress.org (not via WordPress.com), I recommend the following actions you can take now where you will reap the benefits later if you need to call on external support.
Create and use a child theme
If you purchased a premium theme
Do you have the access to your account to get a fresh copy of the theme if needed? Do you know where to find the access to the support team contact form?
Know your Plugins
During a support process, you might be instructed or asked to deactivate (disable) installed plugins so troubleshooting can be done. If you have copious amounts of plugins activated, be sure you understand what role they play in the display and operation of your website. Being asked by a support representative to deactivate a critical plugin can be a scary thing. Know why you are installing each plugin and deactivate and delete plugins that are no longer relevant to the operation of your website.
Know your webhosting account
Know how to login to get to cPanel access (if you are using a host that offers cPanel). Ask a friendly customer service representative how to find your FTP credentials. Normally, your FTP credentials are available easily, just ask where to find it.
cPanel=Control Panel of your webhosting account
FTP credentials: normally include: user name, password, port, hostname
Download an FTP client
Install a copy of the FTP client software package on the device you use most to work on your website. I use Filezilla. Pick a software package that you can feel comfortable using. It’s much wiser to get your FTP credentials properly set up before a website support emergency happens.
FTP=File Transfer Protocol
Use an automated backup solution
There are free and paid options. Pick a reliable backup system. Use it regularly. This will help if your situation cannot be easily fixed with remote support personnel. Some webhosting plans include a backup program in your annual fee.
If you find yourself in a situation where you will need to contact someone for help with your WordPress powered website, in addition to the 6 items I described, the most important (and most difficult) advice to follow is do not start to make random changes to the files controlling your website. This could make things harder to get back to normal operation.
Depending on the circumstances, you might need to contact:
- the developer that originally set up your website
- the theme author
- the author of one of the plugins active on your website
- a volunteer in the support forum of WordPress.org
*while i am a Conductor plugin affiliate, this is not an affiliate link.