Plugin Troubleshooting 101

We’ve all been there: You’re excited about a new plugin, you download it, install it, and then BOOOM! You’re site is a blank white page. Maybe you got the courtesy of an error message. Bottom line: A plugin broke your website and now it’s time to start troubelshooting.

How to Troubleshoot a Plugin Conflict

How to Troubleshoot a Plugin Conflict

Or Did It?

WordPress is an amazing platform to build websites with specifically because it is Open Source. What that means though as well is that young developers and designers get to experiment with an amazing code base — which is great, but it can sometimes wreck havoc on your site even if you don’t notice it at first.

The first thing everyone needs to learn when first getting into the giant world of plugins and themes is that it is literally impossible for a plugin or theme developer to code in a way that anticipates every other plugin or widget that might get crammed into your site. This means necessarily that there will be bumps and bruises occasionally.

That’s why it’s good to always have backups of your site, work in a staging area or development site first, or both.

With that said, our developers here are rock solid. They’ve got serious credentials and have been doing this for a long time. They code in their sleep, and negotiate world peace during lunch. But, you might still encounter a problem when installing one of our own stellar plugins.

First things, first: Don’t Panic. If you’re working in a development environment this can actually be a great opportunity to learn more about WordPress and how it works and how it breaks, too!

Next, know that we have serious support available for all our paid plugins. But before we jump into that, we’d heavily encourage you doing some investigating of your own before contacting our support team. This helps everyone. You learn more, you provide us with more details with more relevant info, we LOVE details and respond quickly with detailed and productive answers. Win, win!

So, before submitting a support request, try to go through these steps:

Where to Start Troubleshooting

We put a lot of effort into our documentation and FAQ sections. Plus, they are informed by all the various support tickets we’ve received. This is most likely the most direct and beneficial place for you to look for solutions before anything else.

Installation Issues

Let’s say you’re installing FooBox, and it tells you that installation was unsuccessful, or you install it and your site is then all wonky. Try this

  1. There’s generally two ways of installing any plugin. Uploading it through the backend, or uploading the files via FTP. If installation was unsuccessful, then try the second method. If installing via FTP, make sure you unzip the zip file first and upload the whole plugin from the root folder (typically called “foobox” or “foobar”, etc.).
  2. If it installed and activated but there were problems immediately, try the following:
    • Disable ALL plugins including FooBox. See how your site works. It should still look fine, but be missing some key features. Then one by one, starting with FooBox, activate the plugins. Once you experience the problem again, you’ve located the plugin that FooBox has a conflict with. That’s SUPER valuable information that will help us help you MUCH more quickly.
    • If disabling and reactivating the plugins doesn’t really give you much new information, then try switching your theme over to twentytwelve (the WordPress default). If everything works perfectly with twentytwleve, but NOT with your theme, then there is a problem with the theme itself. Again, SUPER valuable information that will take us miles down the road before you even say “hello”.

General Quirks

OK, so it’s installed and working, but not entirely. One particular feature that we advertise is not working as advertised. That’s frustrating! Well, know up front that the plugin does actually have that feature, it’s just that something about your environment is conflicting with it. We’ll have to do some sleuthing to get it working right, but one way or another, it’ll work. That’s our promise.

Again, disable all plugins and start re-activating starting with your FooPlugins one. Ideally, when there are NO other plugins except FooBox (for example), all features should be working. If not, then the first place to look is in the FooBox settings. There are A LOT of settings that are very powerful, so take your time to get familiar with them and see how they work and influence what FooBox does. Once it’s totally clear that the settings are not the issue, and no other plugin is activated, then we know it is a conflict with your theme.

Coming to us with that information already in hand is gold.

In Conclusion

We love our customers, and all the folks who submit tickets. We love to be helpful and to interact with developers and WordPress beginners. This is what we do and we are always looking for ways to serve you better and learn more about WordPress and making amazing stuff to your sites can fly. The most important thing we try to always keep in mind is to stay positive.

We know your site is important and we want to do everything we can to remedy your situation. When we can fix it we’ll do it right away with gladness. But sometimes, it really isn’t an issue with our plugin. In those cases we let you know and try to point you to places where you might be able to get help. No matter what, we want your experience with all our plugins and service to be positive. So let us know how we’re doing and how we can improve. We’re listening!

This post was written by
Matt is our "Solutions Manager". When you contact us, he's your guy. Matt has been building websites for 10 years, tweaking and hacking at WordPress for 3 years, and generally being helpful since birth.
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  • Mathew Porter May 8, 2013 at 7:19 pm

    Nice tips, I always seem to get clients with issues installing plugins, mainly when its not compatible with their build version or conflicts with another plugin and in most cases the error will give me an idication of what is causing it, FTP and delete the suspect from the plugins directory… Nice post, nice insight for people.

  • Lauren July 31, 2013 at 7:28 am

    When I saw the “Don’t panic” hyperlink, I assumed this post was by Adam. haha.

    Very nice article, Matt! Bookmarking this one for future reference. :)

    • Matt Cromwell July 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks Lauren. Looks like you’re a freelance writer, so coming from you that’s high praise!

      • Lauren August 1, 2013 at 12:50 am

        I am, indeed! An astute observation on your part, Sir!

        I actually wrote several articles for WP Pro Business back in the day – http://wpprobusiness.com/author/littlezotz/ – and, if all goes well, I might be writing a guest post for FooPlugins soon. :D

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