Oh No! A Business Owner’s Guide to Fixing Your WordPress Website’s Problems


Minimalist Poster by H. Svanegaard, via Flickr

As a web developer, I can be on the receiving end of some quite panicked emails/calls. “My website is suddenly not working! Can you fix it?” My first response is always the same: Don’t Panic. Most of the common reasons for a website not working can be fixed fairly easily.

In fact, there are quite a few times when you can actually fix it yourself – without even getting your web developer involved. Here are a few common problems, what to do to fix them yourself, and at what point you should call in the developer.

I can’t log in!

This issue is generally a pretty easy one. But first, you’ll have to describe the actual issue of logging in:

  1. The Username and/or Password don’t work
  2. The wp-login.php page doesn’t come up
  3. I log in, but it won’t take me to the admin page

Option 1. If the username and/or password doesn’t work, contact other people who have the password to confirm that you have the correct ones. If you still can’t get the right one, you can ask WordPress to reset the password and send it to the email “on file”. Is your email not “on file” or WordPress won’t send the email? Contact your web developer.

Option 2. If you navigate to yoursite.com/wp-login.php and the login page just doesn’t show (or you get a 404 error), you’re looking at something a little weirder. First, double-check the URL. Did you put it in correctly? Second, clear your cache and try again. Still not working? Contact your web developer.

Option 3. If you log in correctly but it won’t take you to the admin page, first try typing in the admin page directly: yoursite.com/wp-admin . Still doesn’t work? There’s probably something that needs to be edited in the database – contact your web developer.

The website doesn’t show in ________ browser!

Generally speaking, this is a pretty outlandish problem to have. It might not display correctly, but it will show in all browsers in some way or another(unless you’ve got fancy coding that’s messed up – super rare, by the way).

First, clear your cache so you don’t have anything messing with it, and reload the site.

Second, check your internet connection. Can you pull up other sites? If yes, the issue is with your site.

Third, and final, is your page just endlessly loading? If you have a good internet connection, the problem is then most likely with your hosting. Call your hosting account directly, since that’s what your web developer will probably end up doing anyway. If you don’t know your hosting account, contact your web developer and get the credentials. Keep them in a safe place – you will need them again.

Nothing work? It’s time to contact your web developer.

My Videos, Instagram, or Pinterest items are suddenly not loading!

This might be a shock, but Youtube/Vimeo, Instagram, and Pinterest can have issues too. They’re just like us!

First, clear your cache, then choose below:

Option 1 – If your site hasn’t had any updates recently, then most likely the original site (ie. Youtube, Instagram, or Pinterest) is having issues. Give it some time to resolve. You can also check with the companies themselves. If there are issues going on, they’ll use Twitter to communicate with their users. Want to be proactive? Tweet a direct message to the company to see if there’s any problems. If you’ve given it time to resolve (think 2-4 hours) and it’s still down, and there’s nothing on the twitter account, contact your developer.

Option 2 – Were there any updates/changes done to the site recently? If so, these might have effected the loading of these items. Contact your web developer as soon as possible and make sure they know if you’ve updated any plugins.

I’m getting a lot of weird new users?

WordPress is a content management system that’s focused on letting your users interact with you. One of the ways they do this is by allowing new users to sign up at will. If you don’t like people signed up, you can stop people by logging in and going to SETTINGS -> GENERAL and un-clicking the “anyone can register” box.

If you don’t want to shut it off, you’ll have to manage the users or pay your web developer to manage them for you.

To view the current users, go to USERS in the menu. Most of the time your users should be Subscribers (except of course those who should have Administrator access). But before you go changing people, confirm with your web developer on any special setups your website has.

If you think the new users are weird or fake, you can simply delete them under the user menu. Usually these are pretty easy to spot: things like weird emails or names that sound fake.

If you’re unsure, contact your web developer.

My Site is down and/or hacked!

This is by far the most panicked call I get. Before you call your web developer in a panic, though, check out the options below.

If your site is down (you get a blank screen or a “cannot load” screen, here’s a few things you can do:

First, confirm your internet is working by visiting other sites. Then try reloading your site.

Still down? Log onto Twitter and check for tweets from your hosting company. If there are no recent alerts, call up your hosting company to ask what’s going on with your site. They should be able to tell you what’s wrong. It might be that you’re on the front end of an issue (you found it before they tweeted about it) or maybe your account isn’t paid up.

If everything’s ok with your hosting or they’re telling you something you don’t understand, it’s time to call your developer.

If your site is hacked, that’s a different matter all together. There’s not much you can do on this one – call your developer right away.


Wouldn’t it be nice to set your website and never have to deal with it again? Unfortunately, with today’s technology moving at such a fast pace, that’s just not realistic anymore. I’d highly recommend going with a web developer who offers a monthly maintenance package that includes monitoring your site. That way, you can focus on what you do best – running your company – and us geeks can keep your website running smoothly.

“[The Hitchhiker’s Guide] scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects. First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.”