Quick Fixes to Common WordPress Problems: Part 1

No matter whether you’re a WordPress newbie or a seasoned pro who has been building and managing sites on the platform for years, it’s absolutely inevitable that, at some point, you’ll hit a snag and need some help. From image display issues to creating automatic updates for plugins to working with shortcode, one day you’ll be stopped dead in your design tracks. But take heart when it happens: the very fact that you’ve encountered a problem speaks to the estimable beauty of the WordPress program and the myriad options it has for everything from customized design to sleek, no-fuss themes and so much more.

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Thankfully, WordPress is built on the very premise that help is out there, everywhere, in the form of not only dedicated customer service reps but also other users who populate the forum board answering questions and sometimes raising a few of their own. There isn’t a problem that can’t be overcome, and the worst-case scenario is you’ll have to call in some pro support to keep moving forward.

That said, there are still some very common problems that arise for just about everybody that can be conquered easily, and here are five of the most frequently encountered with some quick fixes that will get you past your problem in no time. (Stay tuned for more fixes for common problems in future blog posts.)

  • You’re probably already aware that, each time you create a new post the WordPress core program files it into a built-in category called “Uncategorized.” This is convenient sure, except that it makes your site look sloppy and amateurish. However, you can delete the “Uncategorized” category pretty easily. Under “Settings, Writing” find the option titled “Default Post Category.” Here you’ll see different default categories; simply switch it to any other one beside “Uncategorized” and save your changes. Then go to “Posts, Categories” and click on the option to the delete “Uncategorized.”
  • When starting a WordPress install you’re allowed to choose a username for the account. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to change that name once it’s created, which many people find annoying. From the left-hand menu in your Admin area, click on “Add New” and fill in all the user fields with previously unused information. You should instantly see the new username you just created and be able to hover over it at the top-right of the page. Now enter your new username and password and simply click “Log In.”
  • Although many WordPress users find them a little scary, shortcodes for widgets are great as they add functionality to text areas without having to know any real coding. However, shortcodes don’t work automatically: you have to enable them. To do so enter (add_filter(‘widget_text’,’do_shortcode’) into your theme’s “Functions.php” file or into a specific plugin. If you’re scared about entering it manually, install the Shortcode Widget Plugin and let it do the work for you. You’ll soon find you have a lot more options for customizing your WordPress text areas.
  • The general rule for distinguishing a “good “ plugin from a “bad” plugin is that good ones get updated regularly. However, many people don’t take the time to make sure their plugins are getting those regular updates, and that’s when problems occur with security leaks, malware intrusion and the like. So to automatically install updates for WordPress plugins add the code “add_filter (“auto_update_plugin” , “___return true”) to your theme’s “functions.php” file or to a specific plugin. This will tell your WordPress program to automatically search for and install updates when they’re available. You can also install the Automatic Plugin Updates plugin and then activate it by visiting “Settings, Automatic Plugin Updates” and establishing the configurations. Here you can choose to only update certain plugins automatically or have all them auto-update. You can also set up email alerts so you know when an update is coming.
  • Spam is an unfortunate reality in the comment section of many WordPress sites, and although the program comes with built-in moderation that allows you deal with the spam, it can quickly grow to the point where you don’t have time to handle it all. To begin, install the Akismet plugin, a spam filtering service that culls your comment sections for spam and then establishes rules that help it block future spam. Developed by the creators of WordPress, it’s said to have captured more than 100 billion spam comments in the past four years! There are different pricing plans—from a free basic version to a premium package which only costs nine dollars a month—and it will save you a lot of time and hassle, especially if your site is one that thrives on comments and back-and-forth dialogue.

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