Spend any time online — especially as a blogger — and something is bound to go wrong. Whether you're installing a new plugin, tweaking your design or adding new features, at some point you will inevitably encounter the infamous,"Ah!-What-have-I-done-?" or, "Ah!-Look-what-this-dumb-computer-has-done!" (depending on your personality) error or warning message.
When it happens, here's what to do:
1. Don't panic.
As I like to say, most things in life are fixable. It might be costly (in time or money or both), but hey, lots of times most of the time it's not. A cool head is key.
2. Step away from your keyboard and mouse. I repeat, step away…
In other words, don't start madly pressing buttons and clicking links because you are in freak-out "NO! NO! NO! NO! DON'T BREAK ON ME!" mode. (You know who you are! LOL!) Just stop and take a deep breath.
3. Undo the last thing you did.
Think of the last thing you did before things went haywire. Now, retracing your steps and working backwards, undo it all. Installed a plugin? Delete it. Took something out of your stylesheet? Put it back in. Tweaked your theme? Untweak it. And so on. This will often take care of the problem.
4. Take note of the error or warning message.
If the warning or error message is still assaulting you (it feels like that right?), copy it. Someone, somewhere down the line will most likely want to know exactly what it said.
5. Google it.
Even though every I-have-such-bad-luck bone in your body is certain this has happened to no one else in the entire world, I guarantee you, you are not the first one.
This is where copying the error message and then pasting it into a Google search can be really handy.
- Open a new browser window or tab. (That is, don't close out the window your error message is in…just in case you need it again later.)
- Go to Google.com.
- Enter your search query like this: "Error: Great job Einstein, you just broke your site." (Notice I put quotes around the error/warning message. This is important as it tells Google to return results with that exact wording only.)
Once you get a list of results, browse through to see if you can't find a solution to your problem. It's likely someone else has asked how to fix said problem in a forum or another place online. It's also likely someone else has offered an easy answer.
6. Contact support.
(Feel free to bump this step up to the beginning and save yourself some time and stress.)
If the problem you encounter is directly related to a product for which you have paid cold, hard cash (i.e. hosting, a paid-for theme, a premium application, etc.), contact support. Hopefully the product in question comes with some decent help and they'll have it fixed for you in no time.
You might also try the Help page, FAQ page or User Forums.
7. Pay a professional.
If you've exhausted all your other options, this is probably a good time to bite the bullet and pay someone to help you. Of course, I probably don't have to tell you that all help is not equal.
The best way to find a reputable techy professional is via word-of-mouth. So, I suggest you send out a Facebook status update, a tweet or a short, kind (non-freak-out) email to another blogger you know and simply say something like, "Hey, I need some help with my design/WordPress/plugins/etc. Anyone you'd recommend?" Hopefully you'll get a response in short order and you'll be back on track in no time.
So fess us, are you the freak-out type, the paralyzed-with-fear type or the calm-cool-and-collected type?
Me? I'd definitely say calm and cool…I suspect my family would say freak out.