WordPress is my number one choice of blogging platform and I get a lot of requests for 1-on-1 support but unfortunately, I don’t have the time and resources to help everyone directly.
So the next best thing I can do is put together a detailed guide on the best WordPress Help & Support resources.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or advanced user of WP at some point you will need some help or technical support as it’s difficult to learn everything about this beast of a CMS.
With a self-hosted WordPress.org install you are essentially responsible for the maintenance of your website and the software it runs on, that means WordPress core software and also includes your WordPress theme and any plugins you have installed.
In 9 out of 10 cases, your hosting company will only offer support for server related issues and not be able to help you with WordPress.
Some hosts like WPEngine are unique in that they will offer some additional assistance with WordPress as they are specialists with the software but there are limits to what they will help with, this is when you need to start getting your hands dirty.
So what are the best ways to get your WordPress questions answered?
If you have any WordPress related issues the best places to research and ask questions are:
WordPress Support Forums
The official WordPress support forums are a great place to start and if you don’t already have an account you should definitely sign up for one.
This is one of the best places to engage with other WordPress blog owners, designer, and developers who might be able to help with your query.
Visit WordPress.org Forums.
WordPress Stack Exchange
Stack Exchange is a popular site for developers and those looking for help.
This questions and answers site is one of the highest quality for learning anything related to programming and WordPress is no different. It might take you a while to get used to but once you do you will quickly realize what a vital resource this is for any WP site owner.
Visit WordPress on StackExchange.
The WordPress Codex is the online manual for everything WordPress and includes everything from get started guides, how to upgrade WordPress and a whole series of lessons on how to administer and manage a self-hosted WordPress install. Definitely a site to bookmark for later.
Visit the WP Codex.
As I am sure you have guessed this is the official video education platform from WordPress.
If you are more of a visual learner and find watching video walkthroughs works better for you then give this a try and see if there is a video covering your pain point. If you are just starting out, consuming the content on this website will equip you with superpowers!
Just kidding, but you will know a lot more about WordPress if that’s any consolation?
Watch the videos.
Reddit is one of the best locations online to ask questions and find useful information on a wide range of subjects.
Of course, they also have a Subreddit for WordPress that features questions, answers and other interesting discussions. If you run a blog or website on WordPress this is a site you should have bookmarked.
Go to Reddit.
CSS Tricks Forums
The CSSTricks website is one of the best out there for budding WordPress designers and what’s even cooler?
They have an awesome forum full of helpful and friendly fellow designers and devs willing to answer questions and lend a hand.
Check out CSS Tricks Forums.
WP Questions is a site where you can list your question and a prize for the person who solves it. This is a micro-working platform where most questions are listed for between $5-20 with lots of smart devs using this site as an opportunity to help others, gain authority and make a little bit of pocket change on the side.
If you don’t get your question answered on one of the free forums or websites then maybe try this out and offer an incentive.
Visit WP Questions.
Paid Support & Maintenance?
If you don’t want to get your hands dirty or you have exhausted all of the options available you might want to try a WordPress maintenance package from the professionals over at WPBuffs.
If you are unable to follow the instructions provided on support forums and need someone to take over and show you how things are done then this a great option and a service many of my customers have used in the past and I haven’t heard a single complaint yet.
For a set monthly fee you can have access to professionals that will dedicate the time to fixing any problems you have and offering guidance, answering questions and basically being your full-time support and safety net.
Tips on Asking for WordPress Help and Support
Okay so we have covered the best places to go online to get help but there are some important points to cover in relation to getting free help and assistance with WordPress.
If you want to get helpful responses and not be ignored there’s a certain etiquette you should follow.
Keep in mind WordPress is an open source piece of software and for the most part supported and developed by volunteers. When you find yourself on any of the free support forums and websites mentioned above these people are helping out of nothing but good will.
If you want to encourage people to answer your questions and provide as much help as possible you should first be well mannered and polite, adding “Thanks in advance” at the end of your question is just one simple way to show that you aren’t a #%$*. Nobody likes a #%$*!
So be respectful and you are more likely to get a good answer and more assistance with your site.
Secondly, you should provide as much detail and context as possible about your issue.
Details like the version of WordPress you are using, the active theme, any other plugins that might be causing an issue will be helpful to people willing to answer your questions.
Also, anything you have changed recently that may have introduced the problem you are asking about, explain to the developer and community what you are expecting to see and what you are actually seeing.
Remember to do a sufficient amount of research on Google and by checking through the support forum before asking anything that has already been answered. Nothing frustrates developers like being asked the same question over and over when it’s clearly available online or in their FAQ.
And most importantly don’t forget to share your URL if possible as that will make it much easier for any dev to actually see the issue first-hand.
Certain plugin and theme developers may ask for additional information, especially if their tool provides a bug report within WordPress.
It’s always important to learn how to help yourself and avoid wasting any time by going to ask questions about things you haven’t properly checked yourself.
There are some common WordPress errors that can happen and sometimes you may not be seeing the most up to date version of your website.
Always make sure you
- Do a hard refresh (Ctrl + F5 on Windows Cmd + F5 on Mac) this should clear the browser cache and show you the most up to date version of your website.
- Clear your cache fully – If you are using a WordPress caching plugin or you host with a service that is applying server-side caching you want to login to your dashboard and find the relevant section that allows you to clear all caches.
Doing the above can help if you are seeing unexpected results and not sure why. If after doing these steps your website is still broken or the issue persists you can then move onto doing some basic research on the error you are facing based on the evidence and information available to you.
Common error messages you might see include
- Error establishing a database connection.
- WordPress white screen of death
- Memory exhausted error
- Internal Server Error
If you are getting any of the above messages it might be worth contacting your hosting support to find out if they can spot an error. If you have Cpanel available within your hosting dashboard you should be able to access an error log which might also give you some information as to what errors have occurred recently and around the time of you noticing a problem.
If you are still able to login to the dashboard of your website but have an issue on the front end the next step is to switch to a default WordPress theme and see if that fixes your problem.
If after changing your theme you still have the same issue then you can switch back to your original theme and begin systematically going through your plugins and deactivating them and checking to see if it makes any difference, then continue to the next plugin.
Retrace your steps to try and find any events that took place or changes you made before the error began.
If none of the above resolves the problem it’s safe to assume you need to seek professional help with your site.
Help with Plugins
If you need help with a specific plugin, rather than go to the main WordPress.org Forums homepage you want to navigate to the plugin’s page on the WordPress plugin repository.
On this page, you will see a support tab along with an FAQ tab. To ask a question or report a bug you think you have found go to the support tab, it’s always worth reading the FAQ first though in case it’s a common problem or question as it may save you from typing out a question that has already been answered and then added to the FAQ for increased visibility.
Since all plugins on the WP plugin repo are free and these developers are likely making nothing from their plugin unless they have a pro version, make sure to be well mannered.
If you paid for a plugin and it didn’t work sure you have a good case for recourse but when it’s a free plugin make sure to respect the developer and if you need help that goes beyond their capabilities offer to make a donation to their cause, if it’s a good plugin and the developer is helpful it should be money well spent.
If you don’t hear back try and find the Twitter account for the plugin or developer and send them a polite tweet asking for help. You could also try and find their website since that is usually easy to find as most plugin developers are also offering services and plugins are a great way of marketing them.
Premium Themes & Plugins
If you have purchased a WordPress theme or plugin from either CodeCanyon or a third party company then your approach to getting support will differ. The mass majority of plugins and themes offer an annual or lifetime support option that gives you access to their forums and email support.
Some plugins and themes will opt for a bug ticketing system if so you can easily find the available methods of support by visiting the official website.
Studiopress for example who create the popular Genesis framework have their own dashboard that includes documentation, FAQ, a community and if that doesn’t answer your question you can submit a support ticket.
Always be polite when reaching out for help or with any questions you might have. You have a much higher chance of finding a solution fast if you show gratitude. Try and solve the solution yourself and do the necessary research before reaching out and expecting others to share their valuable time and expertise.
Do you have any favorite WordPress resources for getting help and support? Beyond the obvious of Quora or Yahoo Answers.
Feel free to share them in the comments.