ISSUE: Something in my theme stopped working suddenly
If something in your theme which you know was working previously has suddenly stopped working, the culprit is usually something external that has changed with your site (and not the theme code itself — unless, of course, you just ran theme updates!). That's because once your theme files are uploaded and working on your site, they don't change until you run theme updates. Another factor has to change somewhere along the way, making the theme code incompatible with the change that's been made (or vice versa).
We know when you're trying to figure out why something has gone wrong, it can feel a little overwhelming to guess where to begin troubleshooting. Our checklist below includes the most common culprits for why things suddenly look different on your site, or randomly "stop" working. See if any of these items solve your issue. If not, please submit a support ticket through the My Account area, and we can continue troubleshooting!
1. Did you recently install any new plugins, including any to enhance site performance?
Remember, plugins are like apps for your website. Some are very lightweight and well-maintained, meaning the developers take care to build and update them so that they'll function seamlessly across WordPress sites. Other times, plugins contain so much functionality, they include code which might interfere with something already on your site. When troubleshooting an issue, consider whether any recently installed plugins duplicate functionality already on your site. A few common examples:
- Installing a plugin to control mobile layouts, if your theme already has mobile functionality
- Installing a plugin to assist with site loading and/or cache, if your server already has this and/or you already have other plugins that are doing this for you (more on this here)
- Installing a plugin that edits images, adds new media sizes, or impacts how your images load (these may impact how featured images appear, or how images load within your feeds)
- Plugins from a previous theme maker that are still live on your site, which may be interfering with a new theme
2. Are your plugins up to date?
Keeping your plugins updated is another important task to ensure your site runs smoothly. Believe it or not, outdated plugins can impact functionality for certain features!
To see which plugins require updates, simply navigate to the Plugins tab in your Dashboard. Plugins that need updating will have a highlighted notification beneath their name and details; you can also look for the Update Available link near the top of the plugins list to sort by all plugins in need of updating.
When updating plugins, we always recommend updating one by one if you can, so that if any updates are incompatible with your theme or WordPress, you'll be able to easily identify which plugin is causing the issue!
3. Is your theme up to date?
Have you been keeping your theme up to date? Pending the nature of the issue you're encountering, it may already be addressed with a product update.
- How can I tell if I need to update my EmPress product?
- Updating your EmPress products
- View all recently incorporated updates, via our product changelog
4. Do you have caching active on your site, either via a plugin or via your hosting plan?
Here’s the number one thing to remember if you’re making site updates that don’t appear to be working or publishing:
If you have caching plugins or performance plugins activated, start by disabling those first when things aren't working as expected. Then, clear your browser cache. 90+% of the time when changes don't seem to be working on your site, it is due to cache. Please read our full Help Desk article about cache and how you can clear it here.
5. Are you running Jetpack?
While recommended and extremely useful due to its powerful features, the WordPress.com JetPack plugin also includes a lot of functionality which may interfere with theme code, because it will often overwrite native theme settings. If any of the below issues feel familiar to what you're experiencing, please check your Jetpack settings.
- Share buttons that don't match the theme are appearing on post pages > ensure Sharing buttons are not enabled (under Sharing)
- Images don't seem to be rendering properly > The Site Accelerator features may impact this. If you already have another cache or CDN features enabled with your server, you can leave this off (turn it off under Performance)
- Images aren't loading > Occasionally, the Lazy Loading feature may interfere with image loading sitewide (turn it off under Writing)
- The mobile version of your theme looks weird > Ensure that the Jetpack Mobile theme is not enabled (under Writing)
- The Related Posts at the bottom of your blog posts look odd > Ensure that related content is not turned on in Jetpack (under Traffic)
6. Are you making changes in the Customizer, but they don't seem to update on the live site?
Again, most often, this is due to caching settings turned on either with your host server, or via a plugin you have activated. You can also try clearing the cache in your browser, as occasionally, your browser is storing an older version of your site, which would prevent you from seeing the updates. Please read our article about clearing cache, here.
7. Did you add new code to Additional CSS, or did a plugin install new code?
We love when our customers are willing to experiment and try their hand at adding their own customizations in the Additional CSS tab! (and we hope our Code Hacks program inspires you to do so!)
However, keep in mind that if you've gone off the beaten path and have added your own CSS not provided by us, it's possible new code you have added has impacted other areas of your site that you weren't anticipating. One easy way to check is to copy the code, remove it, and see if it resolves the issue. If it does, you know the code (which you can then paste back in) contains language that is impacting a surprise area of your site.
If the code in question is from our Code Hacks program, you may need to try re-adding the code to make sure all characters have been included.
8. Are you experiencing site performance issues and your host keeps saying to check with the theme provider?
For customers who experience slow site load times or strange performance issues with their WordPress Dashboard, we always recommend calling your theme provider and asking about your current resources and storage usage level with your existing plans. 9 times out of 10, issues with slow load time and site performance can be eliminated by upgrading to a better hosting plan.
Be aware that the entry-level, inexpensive plans with the big providers are often insufficient for sites with significant traffic needs, or those who send big bursts of traffic to their sites via another platform (like Instagram). We also find that the cheaper your plan, the more likely the provider will blame the theme developer, and/or other plugins you have running. If you've been on the phone countless times with your hosting service and feel like you get a different answer every time, or you're not getting good answers at all...chances are, you're on a plan that's not going to give you great customer service. We advise you ask for specific stats on your server usage, and if you appear to be near the limit (and definitely if you're over), it's time to switch or upgrade your plan.
We typically recommend customers look for a managed WordPress hosting plan, such as one on Flywheel*, SiteGround* (*affiliate links), or GoDaddy. We've also written more about how to choose a web host here.
When it just might be the theme code...
Occasionally, we do uncover bugs in our themes often related to styling features. If you think you've uncovered a bug, please let us know! We can email you a Code Hack if possible, and we'll definitely add your bug to our list of fixes for future theme updates.
The other instance in which it might be the theme code is if we've released a theme update, you installed it, and are now experiencing issues. Again, in these cases, please email us or submit a support ticket, so we can investigate what may have gone awry.