The Art and Science of Getting Good WordPress Support
Imagine this: it’s been a productive WordPress weekend. You’ve been busy puttering away on the new website you put together for your cat-lovers’ club and you’re pleased with the progress so far.
You found an adorable kitty-friendly theme, snagged a memorable site address, added some snazzy widgets in all the right places, and you’re finally ready to introduce your baby to the world.
But, wait! Just before making the site public, you notice that the header isn’t displaying your site title and tagline along with the header graphic.
What could be causing the problem? You check under Settings → General, but the title and tagline are there.
You ask friends with WordPress sites to have a look but they have no idea how to fix it. You search the WordPress.com support documentation, to no avail. You’re truly stumped.
You remember that one of the reasons you chose to build your site on WordPress.com is there seem to be a whole bunch of people willing to help out folks stuck on a problem, from community volunteers to staff Happiness Engineers. All you have to do is ask — or is it?
Before you get to your question, you want to make sure you’re headed to the right place for help.
You’ve heard about being able to submit a question through a contact form, but that route is open to folks who have a paid upgrade on their account. Since you don’t have any upgrades at the moment, you head over to the public support forums.
You learn that there’s a specific set of message boards for premium themes, where each theme has its very own forum, and developers answer theme-specific questions directly.
This also reminds you that each theme in the Theme Showcase, including the free ones, has a dedicated information page, explaining how to use its special features. You peek at the page for your site’s theme, Pachyderm, which explains how to set up a wide-page template and how to add a custom header. Alas, nothing about getting a title and tagline to display.
Take me to the forums
Since you’ve already read all the documentation you can find, you do a Google search in plain English (“missing site title tagline wordpress”) to see if anyone else has reported the same issue. There are a bunch of results, but nothing that helps solve your problem. You really need some outside help, so back to the support forums you go.
Information to provide when asking for help
- A link to the site
- Screenshot of the issue
- Browsers you’ve checked
- Platform (Mac? PC? iOS? Android?)
- Your level of technical skill
- Anything unusual about your setup
- Anything you’ve already tried to fix the problem
- Exact steps to replicate problem if it’s not apparent
- Actions taken just before the problem started
You click the “Add New” button and are faced with an empty text box. Hmm…how can you formulate your question in a way that’s likely to get a helpful answer?
How about something easy to start off. ☺ You add a descriptive topic title to your post so that anyone scanning the list of topics will know right away the nature of your problem: “Site title and tagline missing in header” should do nicely.
Here are some other things you do:
- Mention that you’ve checked your site on your Mac in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari browsers, so it’s clear to anyone reading the post that this isn’t a problem specific to just one browser.
- Provide a link to your site and set it to public so forum volunteers can easily take a look at it.
- To be extra-sure folks see what the problem is, you take a screenshot of the header area to illustrate where the title and tagline should show up but stubbornly are not. You use CloudApp to upload the image to the web so anyone can view it.
- Point out that the title and tagline both went missing right after you added your last widget to the sidebar, though you aren’t sure whether the timing is related or just a coincidence.
You also realize it’d be a good idea to let folks know you’ve already run a fine-toothed comb through the Settings area — double-checking that your title and tagline are present and accounted for in the General Settings section — and poked around the theme’s info page for clues. You even specify you’ve done Google and forum searches for similar issues but were stymied. (It’s not like you haven’t tried helping yourself first!)
Because you know that forum helpers volunteer their time because they enjoy helping people — and are also WordPress users just like you! — you’re polite in wording your forum post, and express your appreciation for anyone who might be willing to take a look.
You’re nearly done! Before hitting Submit, you add a few tags and check off the “Notify me of followup posts via e-mail” box so you’ll get an email whenever someone replies to your thread.
Whew, composing forum questions is hard work! Now that you’ve submitted your post you need a break. You go cuddle with one of your kitties and sip a cold glass of iced tea to reward yourself for your efforts.
Fifteen minutes later, you head back to the computer and wouldn’t you know it, there’s an email letting you know that someone has answered your plea for help.
It’s one of the regular forum volunteers, who seems to know exactly what’s up. Thanks to all the information you provided, especially the link to your site and the screenshot, the volunteer realized right away that you must have forgotten to do one crucial thing: check off the box under Appearance → Header, that says “Show header text with your image.”
Bingo! You knew you must have overlooked something simple. You head over to your dashboard, check off the box, and refresh the front page in your browser. All is right again: like magic, your title and tagline show up. You thank the volunteer profusely for their time, sink back into your chair, and hit publish on your first blog post.
It’s been a fruitful day. The next time you run into an issue with your site, you’ll know exactly what to do.
In the meantime, you’re getting a hankering to try your hand at answering someone else’s forum question — you’re no longer a beginner, after all! It’s time to give back.
Appetite whetted for more troubleshooting ideas? Keep your eye on this blog for an upcoming post with advanced hands-on troubleshooting tips.