Insider Tips from WordPress Experts: Problems with Pre-Built Themes

WordPress experts share hacks and strategies for WordPress developers and DIYers

Resolving critical errors caused by pre-built WordPress themes and page builders

In this installment of our WordPress expert series, we take a look at a critical error caused by a pre-built WordPress theme and page builder with Pulley Support Manager Nikki Dombi. 

Nikki Dombi WordPress expert

Pulley Support Manager Nikki Dombi

Nikki has been working in web design and development for over 12 years and has been working with WordPress professionally for over six of those years. While she’s not a huge fan of the Gutenberg block editor, Nikki otherwise considers WordPress to be the best CMS because it is “open source, has a lovely community around it, has a great UI, and is accessible.”

But, as everyone who has worked with WordPress knows, its extensibility can often cause issues. In this case, a Pulley client had an issue with the pre-built WordPress theme and page builder their website was built with. Here’s how Nikki and the team solved it. 

Q: What was the issue you were working to resolve?

We inherited a client website that used a pre-built theme and page builder. The client needed to make a large list of copy changes quickly due to regulatory reasons. As we began making those changes, the website would crash regularly upon saving. It was an odd issue we don’t see often and it wasn’t easily identifiable from the dashboard or the back end.

Q: How do you discover the theme was the issue?

We tried all of the regular troubleshooting methods: updating all of the plugins, themes, and WordPress itself. After digging into the theme updates a little more, we discovered that the theme subscription hadn’t been kept active.

The updates tab itself wasn’t saying the theme needed to be updated because the support license for the pre-built theme wasn’t active. So, at first glance, you’d think everything was up to date, when in reality, the theme was years out of date and causing all of the problems. So, even though it wasn’t saying the theme needed to be updated, it very much did and showed us by crashing the site every time we hit save.

Q: What was the solution?

We renewed the license for the theme and updated it and its page builder. We also had to build a workaround for some errors that persisted even after updating. That resolved the issue quickly.

Q: What did you learn from the experience?

There is something to learn from every support case and WordPress issue. This one was a reminder of the importance of regular updates to WordPress and all of its add-ons like themes and plugins.

Q: What advice would you offer others dealing with this issue in the future?

While buying pre-built themes from somewhere like Theme Forest can be cost effective, I would recommend using a custom-built theme. For small businesses and mom-and-pop shops managing their own websites, the support that comes with custom-built themes is worth the investment.

Prebuilt themes often come with lots of bloat and unnecessary plugins and features that can slow down the website and cause issues like this one when they aren’t actively maintained. And in this case, we saw that the troubleshooting and WordPress experience it took to resolve the issue is not typically within a small business owners’ or DIYer’s abilities to fix it themselves.

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