Monday, January 11, 2010

Avoiding Common WordPress Errors

All systems built by humans are prone to fail, including the times they are editing code that shouldn’t necessarily be tampered with. When you look at WordPress as a whole, the system is continually becoming more feature-rich and secure, while the number of errors people are encountering appears to be on the incline. A large percentage of the time, the errors encountered are not the fault of the content management/blog system, but rather on the user’s end, as the result of an action that may have produced undesired results for your readers and visitors.
While no self-hosted solution can be completely error free, even managed solutions like Blogger have had its own share of problems, with widget error messages and difficulties using particular pieces of code when styling templates. However, there are some methods that you can use to make sure that everything involved in your blog works harmoniously with one another.

Do not let upgrades pass you by

This is possibly the most important step. Although some people tend to wait until the next point upgrade (ex. WordPress 2.7 to 2.7.1), there are typically few large-scale errors that occur if you upgrade immediately. Major releases do tend to inflict more harm than good, especially if you are transitioning from an outdated version to a current version, but it isn’t a reason to not upgrade.
Failing to upgrade leaves more than simply your blog vulnerable. If hackers try to issues attacks on your site, they will likely also try to target your plugins, assuming that your core code base hasn’t been upgraded either. Plugins can be even more dangerous from the security standpoint, offering multiple points of entry into your blog’s database and essential files that shouldn’t be altered.

Know what you are doing

To effectively make your theme “indestructible,” make sure that you know what you are doing before you begin customizing your template. One of the common misconceptions when it comes to editing templates by people who have previously worked with Blogger’s easy “Fonts and Colors” and “Page Elements” areas is that it’ll be just as easy to work with other systems includingWordPress , which isn’t necessarily true. Many premium and advanced free themes do include an options area, but it doesn’t substitute for knowing how to customize thecode in the “Theme Editor” panel.
Through some firsthand experience, changing a line in the theme’s code can prevent your entire blog from being accessible by visitors and your subscribers — extremely costly if you are profiting off ofyour blog. You want to prevent any and all downtime, or you’ll risk losing the opportunity to market a product to your visitors.

Spend some time on upgrading and adding plugins

Plugins, add-ons, and modules serve as the backbone of popular content management systems, once again with WordPress the primary blog system being used. Without plugins, the flexibility wouldn’t be there and nearly all blogs would still be where they were ten years ago. With the emergence of thousands ofplugins, it became extremely important that they are constantly updated, with code modifications to reflect upon changes in the core files, along with security updates.
Updating and adding plugins is another primary area where bloggers face difficulties. Each plugin editor and creator strives to create the best product possible – their reputation is on the line, as a plugin that “breaks”your blog will likely cause you to write about it somewhere else, leaving you looking for a new plugin and a fix to the problem. Unless the plugin had horrible coding and would damage nearly any blog, the fault lies on you, as you used the plugin “without warranties” and (likely) with a collection of other, possibly incompatibleplugins installed on your server.
A remedy for this problem lies in spending some extra time upgrading and adding plugins to your blog. The best way to do this is by disabling every plugin, then activating them one by one to find the problematic plugin. If no solution works through this method, you may need to remove the table from the database file or use an FTP client to remove the entire plugin, although these rather obvious methods may not solve the problem in every situation.
In the process of searing for plugins and add-ons that suit your blog, make sure the versions are as up-to-date as possible, as well as for the current version of your blog system. Any modifications should be noted by the plugin author, as well as documentation – changes to the coding with each version, installation instructions, license, and so on. Without this, the plugin should set off some “red flags” in your mind, signifying that the plugin wasn’t formally released, hasn’t been updated, or isn’t necessarily a plugin.

Stick with the basics

WordPress was originally intended to be the lightweight, universal blogging solution that made blogging easy for everyone. Additions over recent years have added somecode to the install, but it essentially the same as its first release – a tool that bloggers use to publish their thoughts and content to the web. It’s as simple as that. Expanding upon the core file ofWordPress , you will find the possibilities nearly limitless, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to tamper with a lot of the essential files to create a true content management system, rather than a blog platform.
Think about it this way: stripped down, every website contains some form of content – whether it be text, images, or video. Blogs, from the theme to the content to the backend can be simple, but still effectively powerful, so there really isn’t a need to editcode . Although many people want to create a customized website, it becomes increasingly difficult should the blog owner not know the basics of coding.
The basic theme and admin area of WordPress currently give you enough options – from tagging, advance-published posts, Gravatars, widgets, and built-in (considering Akismet Anti-Spam) tools for basic, day-to-day blogging – plenty for the average user.

Bonus Tip: Learning the Basics Before You Begin

Like other skills that are necessary for conquering online activities, blogging does require you to learn some basics of coding (CSS, (X)HTML, and/or PHP/other) in order to customize the way you exhibityour blog to others. One of the biggest lessons that you can learn when you start blogging is that you can never have too much experience in any one field – everything is necessary for the long-term of your blogging “career.” You should start atyour blog ’s main website – read the help files, forums, and installation/FAQ pages to gain knowledge. Getting the basics of coding will allow you to counter attacks and solve the common problems that bloggers face everyday.



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