Asking for WordPress help is not that easy as you might think. If not done properly, you can lose a lot of time and even your patience.
I’m sorry to say, but most of the time, it’s not the developers’ fault if you’re not getting quick or proper support.
In this guide, I’ll tell you when, where and how to properly ask for help with your WordPress webiste, so you can get your problem solved a lot faster, without getting (too) frustrated.
When to ask for WordPress help
When you are experiencing an issue on your WordPress website, you must perform some standard troubleshooting yourself before contacting anyone for help.
If you contact any type of support, without performing a standard troubleshooting first, you’ll most likely just lose several hours, a day or more, just to be told to perform the troubleshooting.
If you perform the troubleshooting first, then you can mention that from the start, getting it out of the way, and the support can proceed with giving you some proper advice and help.
The standard troubleshooting I’m talking about consists of three steps:
1. Update everything
Update plugins, your theme and WordPress. Sometimes, the fix is in the updates.
This will also be a request from the support anyway.
2. Disable the plugins
Most issues appear because of a plugin conflict. So, you’ll have to start disabling plugins.
You can either disable them one by one until you spot the culprit, or you can disable all of them from the start (via FTP or cPanel), especially if you can’t access your Dashboard, then reactivate them one by one until the issue reappears, therefore spotting the culprit.
Make sure you clear your browser and page / website cache after disabling the plugins!
Once you’ve discovered the plugin that causes the problem, then you can contact the plugin’s developer.
In some cases, it can be a plugin + theme conflict, so make sure you also perform the third step, just to be sure.
If the issue doesn’t appear with the plugin and a default WordPress theme activated (see below), then it’s a conflict between the plugin and your theme, so you’ll have to contact both the plugin and your theme developers to sort things out.
3. Switch to another WordPress theme
If plugins are not the cause, it’s probably your theme.
So, you’ll have to switch to another WordPress theme, preferably a default one from WordPress (e.g. Twenty Seventeen), and see if the issue is gone or not.
If it’s gone, then you should contact your theme developer(s).
Now, let’s see where to ask for WordPress help.
Where to ask for WordPress help
Asking for help with your WordPress website in the proper place can also save you time.
If you’re asking in the wrong place, you’ll most likely be told to ask in the right one, so you’ll have to create another email, ticket or topic.
A lot of people just go to the WordPress fixing forum to seek help, mainly because they associate WordPress itself with their whole website, which is wrong, unfortunately.
WordPress is just the platform, the foundation of your website. WordPress needs 3rd party tools to form a website: web host, theme and plugins.
Each of these are developed by different people and companies, therefore help should be sought in different places.
Asking for WordPress (the platform) help
Having issues with WordPress itself, the platform, or the app, or the software, or whatever you wish to call it, is quite rare. Most issues are caused by themes, plugins and poorly optimized web hosts.
But, if you do happen to have an issue or questions about the WordPress platform, then use the official support forums.
Asking for help with themes
Themes can be free or premium.
A) For free themes
The vast majority of free themes come from the WordPress theme repository.
Now, every free theme from the WordPress repository comes with its own support forum, which you can access from the theme’s page.
If you got a free theme that’s not from the WordPress repository, then you’ll have to find out if the theme comes with support, and where to get it.
B) For premium themes
Premium WordPress themes can be bought from a lot of different places, and they come with their own dedicated support offered by the developers.
So, you have to contact the developers through whatever channels they’ve set up for their customers: forum, email, ticketing platform, etc.
For example, if you purchase a theme from ThemeForest, you should go to the theme’s page and select the Support tab.
Then scroll to the bottom and click on Go to item support. This will send you to the proper support channel put in place by the developers.
Some ThemeForest authors might forget to link to their support channel there, but it should be mentioned in the theme’s documentation.
Asking for help with plugins
Just like themes, plugins come in two forms: free or premium.
And the things I mentioned for the themes, apply for the plugins as well, so I won’t unnecessarily repeat everything.
The WordPress plugin repository is here.
Asking for help with web hosting
If you’re experiencing errors that are server related, like HTTP Error 500 (Internal Server Error), HTTP Error 503 (Internal Server Error), HTTP Error 502 (Bad Gateway), Connection Time-out, and several others, then you should contact your web host.
Such errors can still be caused by some plugins and theme functions, so before contacting your web host, perform the troubleshooting mentioned above.
If you’re experiencing a memory exhaust error, which is one of the most common WordPress errors, and you have increased your PHP memory limit, but it didn’t take effect, then you should contact your web host as well. You’ll most likely have to upgrade your hosting plan.
Asking for help with custom-made themes and plugins
If you have a custom-made theme or plugin, and you have an issue with it, then you should contact the developer(s) that create it.
It’s not likely to get free help when it comes to custom development, especially if it’s something more complex. You also won’t get help fast.
Asking for help with WordPress development
These forums can help you, but with some quick stuff. They won’t develop plugins and themes for you.
Now, let’s get to the final point of this guide.
How to ask for WordPress help
How you ask for help can also save you a lot of time.
Provide as many details as possible
- Describe the issue in detail;
- Try to structure the text nicely to improve readability and chances for it to be read entirely. Big blocks of text are hard and annoying to read, and you don’t want them to zig-zag through your text, missing important information;
- Provide the link to your website or the particular page where the issue occurs;
- If there’s an error, copy and paste it;
- Provide screenshots, GIFs or videos;
- Mention that you’ve performed a standard troubleshooting – updated everything, deactivated the plugins, switched to another theme;
- Mention if you did anything “special” before the issue started to appear (e.g. changed your host, performed a database optimization, etc.);
- Tell the support how to reproduce the issue, what steps need to be taken in order for the issue or error to be triggered;
- Create an Administrator user account on your WordPress website, and an FTP account, so they can check the back-end. Be careful to whom and where you provide such information!
The more details you provide, the more chances you have to get a quick fix.
You might even one-shot it, like I’m always trying to do, meaning that you can get a fix from the first reply, rather than getting more requests and questions, therefore losing more time and building up more frustration.
Example of how to ask for help
So, I performed some troubleshooting (not the ones mentioned in this guide), then contacted them with the details, as you can see below.
I care to mention that the text was well structured, it wasn’t squeezed like that 🙂 , but this is how the quote looks in my email.
I also see now that
<head> is missing before the word “section”. I either forgot to add it or it was stripped off for being HTML code.
Anyway, after approximately two days, I received this:
One-shot support ticket! Just the way I like it! 😀
Imagine if I would have only said that I copied the code, but the cookie pop-up doesn’t appear.
After two days of waiting, I would have probably gotten an email asking me for more details.
Then, after providing more info, I would have probably waited another day or two for a fix or more requests, depending on the amount of info I previously provided.
So, just by performing some troubleshooting yourself, and providing a lot of details from the start, you won’t have to spend a lot of time writing several tickets and waiting for a fix.
Don’t be hostile
Even though the support process can be frustrating, don’t verbally abuse them and don’t threaten them, especially if you don’t know how WordPress works and who’s really to blame.
Being hostile won’t get you anywhere, it will only make things worse.
Basically, don’t do something like this (it’s not the entire rant):
Long story short: The client simply said that the tool is not working, and the developers, of course, asked for details and some proof that it is not working, and all hell broke loose 🙂 .
It’s like going to the doctor and just saying that you’re in pain, without further details.
One thing that everybody should learn is that a WordPress website is made out of several different parts: web hosting, the WordPress platform, a theme and plugins. All these are developed and maintained by different people and companies.
Now, when a problem occurs, each of the tools can be the cause. It can be your web host, WordPress, your theme, one or even several plugins of yours.
In some cases, it can be a combination of those.
After one week of troubleshooting with 3 different support teams, I gave up and applied for a refund, since it would have taken way, way too much time to fix all of that.
But I didn’t lose my temper. I lost my patience, yes, and it was frustrating, of course, but I haven’t lashed out at the developers.
This kind of stuff can always happen with WordPress, unfortunately.
It wasn’t my fault, but it wasn’t theirs either, if you think of it.
Their plugins do work, but they might not work well with all the combinations of themes and plugins available out there.
This guide is not a guarantee that you’ll always get fast and proper support.
There are a lot of people and companies that just offer bad support.
Also, some problems can be quite hard to spot and fix, so the investigation can take a lot of effort and time.
But nonetheless, if you follow these recommendations, you will, for sure, save a lot of time and headaches.
If you can think of more useful advice, please drop a comment!
That’s a wrap
Hope you found the guide useful and comprehensive!
If you have any questions or thoughts, drop a comment or send a message via contact or Facebook page.
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