Resolving the Customizer error "There has been a critical error on your website."

Occasionally, following successful theme install and activation, some customers may see a critical error message when they try to load the theme Customizer (under Appearance > Customize). This may also occur if trying to load the Customizer without activating the theme, to view a theme preview.

These errors are almost always due to conflicting plugins you are running via your WordPress dashboard. Review the troubleshooting tips below to resolve the error, so the Customizer will properly load:

Troubleshoot: Was your previous theme using the Genesis framework?

If your previous theme ran on the Genesis framework, it is common for Genesis related plugins to cause issues when a Genesis theme is no longer active. 

1. Begin by navigating to the Plugins tab of your dashboard, and deactivating ALL plugins that mention Genesis or are related to Genesis. You can delete them once you have customized your EmPress theme and are sure you won't be switching back to your old theme! 

2. Try loading the Customizer again. If it loads properly without the error, you know that one or more of the Genesis related plugins was causing the issue.

Troubleshoot: Did your previous theme use any other theme-specific plugins?

Some themes—including those that do not rely on the Genesis framework— may have installed plugins specific for that theme, which can cause issues when that theme is no longer active. 

1. Navigate to the Plugins tab of your dashboard, and look for any plugins that mention your previous theme vendor. Deactivate those, then test to see if the Customizer loads properly. 

2. You can delete these deactivated plugins once you have customized your EmPress theme and are sure you won't be switching back to your old theme! 

Troubleshoot: Still getting the error? Do a full plugin audit.

If deactivating Genesis or other theme-specific plugins does not work, you may have to complete a more comprehensive plugin audit, which is straightforward, but can be time consuming if you have a lot of plugins installed. 

1. Navigate to the plugins tab, and first deactivate any plugins that you are certain you no longer use. Often times, customers installed and activated a plugin ages ago for a specific purpose, but then either changed themes or found a plugin they liked better, without removing the old one. Once you've audited and deactivated plugins you don't want or use, check to see if the Customizer is loading.

2. If it's not, move your way down your plugins list, and deactivate one by one, checking between each deactivation to see if the Customizer loads. If after deactivating a specific plugin, the Customizer properly loads, you'll know that's the one that was causing the issue. You can delete the plugin that was causing the issue.

Still not working?

If you still need assistance after this, no problem. Please contact us at, and submit a support ticket. We can assist you further there!

Additional Tips
  • You may have noticed that all our troubleshooting tips above related to plugins. Managing and maintaining your plugins is an important part of running your WordPress site. Read our article on why here.
  • Are you running a caching or performance plugin on your site? Even after deactivating the responsible plugin, you may still run into issues with the Customizer if you have not cleared cache. Learn more here.