Understanding WordPress Breakages
Why does WordPress Break? To understand the need for WordPress Site Repair, we must understand why WordPress breaks to begin with. There’s not one easy answer, but we’ll explore the basics below and help in understanding the reasons a WordPress site breaks.
- Understanding WordPress Breakages
- The Power of Plugins and Themes
- So Why Does WordPress Break?
- Why Pay for a Plugin/Theme License?
- Updates and Compatibility Challenges
- The Impact on User Experience
- The Importance of Applying Fixes
- Challenges Developers Face in Predicting Issues
- Budgeting Time and Funding
- Other Alternatives
- In Closing
The Power of Plugins and Themes
WordPress’s strength lies in its extensive library of plugins and themes, which allow website owners to customize their sites and add multitudes of custom function. However, this flexibility can sometimes lead to issues…and we’ll explain why in this article.
So Why Does WordPress Break?
Ah yes, the initial question opening the post, Why Does WordPress Break?
WordPress itself is Open Source. The entire codebase is available for free and can be freely modified by following a few caveats. Believe it or not, the vast majority of plugins are the same. Allowing and embracing this flexibility is also allowing people and developers to “do things their way.” You may have heard the phrase “there is more than one way to skin a cat.” Well, that certainly applies here as although WordPress offers the backbone and development is typically done with all of the same programming languages and there are adopted general standards, it’s more likely than not that two different developers would solve the same problem the same way. Due to the many ways to write code doing the same things, it can take a slueth to figure out.
Why Pay For a Plugin/Theme License?
Most site owners don’t realize that technically, you don’t have to pay for an Open Source plugin. As part of being an extension of the WordPress Open Source codebase, plugins are also required to be Open Source. That means if you can get your hands on it, you can technically install and use it.
It has become common to sell “licenses” for plugins. This is a deep topic that we won’t go into on this blog post, but there are certain things (such as photographic assets) that may not be covered by being in the Open Source/GPL environment.
Plugins, although Open Source, are not required to be made readily publically available. As a result of such, you basically can’t easily get your hands on them (or the updates or premium features) easily. Most licenses being paid for are for “support,” which in essence is gaining access to the availability of these updates in a rapid fashion, which can be important as they often contain security fixes.
These licenses have become the lifeblood of the ecosystem, allowing developers to build a business around them, giving a reason to continue supporting the plugin. Such support seems simple, but depending on how advanced the functionality is or how many users there are for the plugin, just providing support can be a tremendous challenge, which is why we see many plugins cease to be supported, while those who have managed to utilize their funding successfully continue and grow.
Updates and Compatibility Challenges
The WordPress core team regularly releases major version updates to enhance security and add new features. At the same time, theme and plugin developers also release updates to align with these core updates, address security vulnerabilities and add specific features to their plugins to aid the usership of the plugin based on feedback or a roadmap.
When a site owner updates WordPress or a theme/plugin, compatibility issues can arise. This is because different developers may use different coding methods or have varying approaches to writing code, albeit on the same platform with the same programming languages and this can lead to potential conflicts in some cases.
The Impact on User Experience
These compatibility challenges can result in interruptions in the user experience or impact to some function on the site. Websites may become broken or experience function loss, causing frustration for both site owners, visitors and developers and designers.
The Importance of Applying Fixes
To address these issues, it is crucial for site owners to apply necessary fixes. This many times can involve seeking professional assistance or utilizing troubleshooting techniques provided by developers of the plugins or design themes or the WordPress community.
By understanding the potential causes of WordPress breakages and taking proactive measures to address them and account for the fact that they may happen (in some cases more than others), site owners can ensure a smooth and less interrupted user experience on their websites.
Challenges Developers Face in Planning and Predicting Issues
WordPress developers and designers face significant challenges in anticipating issues that may arise, individual plugins can have thousands of lines of code and be utilizing multiple libraries (other separately supported bases for function). Due to the sheer volume of what it takes to create these features and functions (programming language wise), it’s not possible for developers to exhaustively review the extensive codebases (which vary site to site depending on which plugins and design themes are being used), predict problems.
To add to this, depending on where the site is hosted (what hosting provider), there can be issues related to the hosting server environment itself. These can even vary by a Staging and Live site setup on the same host.
Sometimes issues crop up once updates go live, often from complex interactions in the codebase. Agile plugin and theme development teams (the third party plugin and theme providers) listen closely to user feedback to quickly patch bugs. Even as such, it’s not uncommon for issues to have to be dealt with by site owners and site designers/developers.
Perfect foresight is impossible, but given the alternative to having access to just about any feature or function necessary by site owners, this is the price to be paid in order to achieve this function where the alternative of custom development on another platform would be totally cost prohibitive.
Budgeting Time and Funding
In order to address these in a timely fashion, site operators must both budget time and money to addressing issues that may arise and paying for support in many cases by way of license, which may or may not cover the complexity of the issue. It often doesn’t and it’s very common for site owners to utilize site developers and designers in order to fill this gap.
It comes as a “cost of doing business.” To weigh this out, you must look at your success (sales or otherwise) and attribute that success to the fact that these pieces exist to you in an obtainable fashion (as many of these features and functions would cost thousands and thousands of dollars individually to custom develop and likewise, the same for supporting them around the ecosystem)
Establishing and maintaining relationships and a budget to deal with the unexpected is part of the program as a site or shop owner using WordPress.
Aren’t These Fixes Included in Plugin/Theme Support I Pay?
In some cases, if the fix is simple or known as an issue to the plugin/theme developer, yes. If the conflict is more complex, involves things like other plugins and themes, it may not be. Additionally, the fix or implementation of patching can be above the level of the site owner. There are other cases where you may not wish to allow access to your site that contains your customer database. There are a lot of ifs in this question, which is the reason many turn to obtaining professional assistance. Even if they are covered, it often requires a professional for implementation.
We’re often asked by site owners why they don’t switch to other alternatives such as Wix, Squarespace or Shopify to avoid these unexpected issues. These can be good alternatives in some cases, but what separates these services from WordPress is that you are funneled into what and how they decide features are going to work…if they even support the feature needed. Those utilizing WordPress typically need things to operate a certain way and are in the environment for that flexibility.
To close, yes, these breakage issues can be frustrating, but you have to look at your overall program and presence and give a value to what is being achieved by the added flexibility versus how being limited to pre-packaged features with no or limited flexibility might impact your sales or overall goal with the website.
Fortunately, there is a vibrant community of WordPress professionals who can handle breakage and WordPress repair and this is additionally why people choose to use WordPress as these communities and this volume of professional assistance do not exist in such a readily available form.