9 Reasons Why Your WordPress Website Magically Changed

By admin.dsm | Oct 2, 2018

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Here at Design Source Media, we have experienced unexpected changes on our websites and we wondered why. So over time, we have compiled 9 reasons on why this magic may have occurred.

1. Browser Caching

This is probably the most common problem that we have experienced and its very simple. Browsers like to store the information on the computer so when it goes back to the same page it will continue to reload the content. The problem arises when the latest updated data doesn’t get applied to the website and that is when the website looks funky. When this happens, hit Ctrl + F5 on your keyboard (applies to most browsers) to force the browser to get new content.

browser-caching

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2. Website Caching and Optimization

WordPress plug-ins, such as, WP Rocket uses caching and other techniques to speed up the website. When this happens, changes to the site or sections of the site may not load correctly. For example, one of the ways to optimize a site is a technique called Minification. With minification, it saves bits and bytes of data by getting rid of whitespace, new lines, and comments in a code file. So, small file = shorter download = faster site.  However, certain plug-ins and themes do not play well with this technique and that’s when errors can come up or lost of functionality.

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3. Website Updates

In this day and age, updating websites for new features, security updates, and compatibility is absolutely necessary.  Going with the proverb, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t work.

website-updates

From WordPress.org:

When a new major version of WordPress is released, such as WordPress 2.1 or 2.2, you may find that your Themes and Plugins no longer work the way you are used to. It could be that they are completely broken, because something in WordPress that was fundamental to them changed, but it’s also possible that you can get them working again by updating some settings, or maybe just a small edit.

Source: https://codex.wordpress.org/Migrating_Plugins_and_Themes

  • WordPress Core – These are updates to WordPress. Most of the time, the small updates x.x.# are minor, but the major ones x.# can really have a big impact to the site.
  • Plug-ins – It all depends on the types of plug-ins used. Each plug-in usually has a change log too on what the developer did to add functionality or fix a bug.
  • Themes – Depending on how the developer modified the theme. Upgrading the theme can potential cause a lost in all changes! Yikes! Here a guide on properly making modifications to a theme site to prevent this from happening and always backup the website.
  • Security – Securing is to keep the bad guys out, but sometimes it keeps everyone out. Or there maybe a false positive in code that was applied. Ex. Wordfence would automatically block embeded youtube video links because it’s considered a script. Those will need to be whitelisted.
  • Auto Updates – WordPress and it’s plug-ins can be configured to be updated automatically, so what you’re telling the site to do is automatically accept the updated code from the developers.

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  • Backup before making any updates
  • Review Change Logs

4. Computer Malware and Spyware

Malware and Spyware is bad software that gets installed on a computer and can run behind the scenes without the user knowing. It can cause webpages to load differently, computers to go slower, and even steal personal information.

 

Tips:

  • Have anti-virus and malware protection
  • Double check the URL of the site you’re going to

5. Website and Server Firewall

The purpose of the firewall is similar to a bouncer. Their job is to monitor the traffic and only let in the good traffic. However, the firewall can block everything out. Example: A user mistypes their login multiple times and the firewall triggers thinking its a hacker trying to break in. So at that point, the firewall blocks the IP and the user cannot even see the page load at all.

 

Tips:

  • Talk to your web host / administrator
  • Check logs
  • Whitelist your IP

6. Coding References

 

Code languages like CSS can cause a lot of unexpected results. Editing one area may have an impact on many areas of the website. Example: editing the H1 tags in CSS will impact the whole website that has content tagged as a H1 tag.

CSS Family Guy

Tips:

  • Understand the website structure and theme
  • Minimize the custom section and standardize the overall site as much as possible
  • Look through the site after making changes

7. Hacked

Ouch, I hope the website was backed up. Hackers are getting more sophisticated and the hack doesn’t even have to be targeting the website itself. Because everything is connected, it could be the computer, smart phone, tablet that has information.

Clearly this is what a hacker looks like when they’re hacking.

Tips:

  • Proactive Security Updates
  • Harden WordPress
  • Backup the website

8. Server Changes

Changes to the server technologies can also impact the website, because the website may be relying on a certain versions of the technology (Ex. PHP) and without the new version of the code, the software will not work.

Tips:

  • Make sure the upgrades of the server and software is compatible

9. Running out of space

This is the simplest but the most overlooked because users don’t normally think of running out of space and the error messages don’t tell you that they are out of space.

diskspace

Tips:

  • Keep an eye on the storage usage
  • Backups can easily double or triple your space usage

Need help?

Contact us for assistance!


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