What To Do When You Can’t Figure Out How to Fix It
What To Do When You Can’t Figure Out How to Fix It
You know the feeling: you’re just sailing along, doing your own thing, scrambling from one task to another as you try to keep your business afloat (and thriving). And then you open your inbox and stumble into a dire situation. Something on your site is broken, and you now have hundreds of angry emails asking you what the deal is.
Sound familiar? If not, then you’ve at least had nightmares about this.
The real question is, what should you do about it? It could be an easy fix, in which case you don’t want to feel like a novice when you return to your web designers. But… you could also be on the brink of destroying your entire website in a few casual clicks. What to do? Let’s take a look.
Recognize the Problem
First things first: you’ve got to know you have a problem before you can ask for help. The email apocalypse scenario above may alert you of a general problem that’s easy for you to spot for yourself on your site, but it may only alert you of surface level symptoms that are indicative of a deeper problem. In this case, it’s time to open a Google Doc and start compiling all of the complaints to see if there’s any logic, pattern and order.Another complicating factor is that you may have to sort out user error from site error. The complainant may have, for instance, blocked the ability to run certain plugins and forgotten that they’ve done so. More likely, that pressing “error” is just someone operating in an ancient platform or browser. If this is the case, try not to roll your eyes and sigh when you probe deeper and they let you know that they’re on Internet Explorer 6.The last difficulty in recognizing a problem is simply that ignorance is bliss. Business owners who get caught up in everyday tasks don’t regularly check for errors or even load their site on the go. This can be remedied somewhat by setting up alerts like a broken link checker, but if you find yourself checking out a lot, it’s best to set up regular reminders on your calendar to do a brief site audit, and ensure everything is still operating as it should. If you really want to set-it-and-forget it, consider hiring a professional company to handle your website maintenance.
Do a Little Research
Once you’ve pinpointed the problem or at least the symptoms, it’s time to do a little research. A Google search is a great place to start, as long as you have enough knowledge of the correct lingo to turn up the results you’re seeking. If the problem is common enough, you’re sure to find an article or comment board thread addressing it. If that fails, check troubleshooting boards directly, or post a question of your own and see what other website owners have to say. At the very least, this will help you feel like you tried. It will also save you from that embarrassing moment when your hired expert clicks three things in your backed and says, “Done.” Whoops.
Know When to Throw in the Towel
All of that said, it’s time to know when to call it quits. This is really a matter of personal expertise and preference. Some people prefer to tinker around for weeks before finally calling in higher powers, while others have had it in ten minutes. The truth is, DIY-ing your site fixes can be incredibly time consuming. While you want to be somewhat literate, it’s important to note that it is it’s own kind of language, and there is a reason why you paid specialists to set the site up for you. Even if you use a relatively intuitive, self-managed platform like WordPress, it can take countless hours to troubleshoot what’s gone wrong in a system you don’t totally get, especially if the error is in a third party theme. And you know what? You have a business to run — and to do that, delegation is absolutely key. Think about it this way: sure, you could waste time — and risk your life — trying to fix say, an electrical issue in your home, but in the end, you’d call an electrician, right? The same is true here, especially if a problem is pressing enough to break your site — or worse yet, if the only solution you can rig up is an unprofessional workaround that degrades the quality of your site and therefore of your business in the eyes of your consumers.So know when to throw in the towel, and let the experts do what they do best.
Identify the Right Professional Help
How to find those experts is another question altogether. Much to the chagrin of many website owners, maintenance help isn’t something that many professional web designers or firms offer. This is due to financial reasons — they will receive far less for fixer upper jobs than they would for an entire site design, and if they take too many maintenance jobs, they will have to work more for less. It’s also due to, well, a polite way to say it is “artists being artists.” Many web designers just want to work on the big, creative stuff, and site troubleshooting and maintenance is more on the level of “those unpleasant things that need to be done in order to ensure it all looks and behaves like we envisioned.” What’s more, once complete, many web designers just like to move on to the next big thing.This is not true of all web designers (ahem), however, so be sure to check back with yours before seeking elsewhere. If they do not take this kind of work, ask them if they know someone who does. Another great idea is to inquire with bigger web design firms, rather than with a sole practitioner, as they are more likely to have up and coming designers looking to gain experience on these kinds of projects. And of course, ya know, Alt Creative offers these services too (just saying!). You can check out our packages here.
Spotting a major error in your site is downright heart attack inducing, but even a minor error can decrease the professionalism and perceived value of your site. It’s worth reaching out to professional web designers to fix what you can’t, so that you can focus on what you do best, and your website can return to being the best thing sliced bread!