I have been meaning to write this for a long time, but something that happened this morning forced me to stop to write it now.
Last week a friend asked me to help her set up her new self-hosted WordPress blog. Being a huge fan of StudioPress and the Genesis Framework, that was a no-brainer. I showed her a few child themes and we selected Foodie Pro. I got everything up and running. To allow her time to get her feet wet, look at the free video tutorials that came with her Godaddy Managed WordPress Hosting and to get a few blogs in there – I placed the site in maintenance mode.
Everything should be fine right? Nope!
Laying in bed this morning, I looked at my phone and saw I had been tagged in a Facebook post. Tagged to what? Letting us know that her blog is LIVE…ONLINE! Ack!!!!!! I immediately clicked the link and Foodie Pro was gone! POOF! And in it’s place was a…yep, I am about to say it… 🙁 a Free theme from the repository!!!! Good thing I was still laying in bed because I almost fainted! And, guess what? The bottom was all wonky and there was something wrong with the colors. SMH! Well.. she didn’t know any better.
I got up, pinged her via Facebook Chat to let her know there were issues and then logged in to begin troubleshooting.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with using free themes from the repository or anywhere else to get you started. But.. you do need to know ahead of time that there are things that can happen and if you don’t know how to look for them, you’ll be “stuck like Chuck!”
So the issue with the theme was the home page layout and the footer areas. The footer area I can fix with CSS, no biggie. But the home page was a different story. I looked in the Customizer…no answer. I looked under Appearance…no answer.
I then went to the Theme Support tab on WordPress.org. There were two ladies there asking the same question, “How do you set up the different home page layouts?” One entry was from 4 months ago and the other was from 1 week ago. Both UNANSWERED.
So what next?
Since her theme was installed from the dashboard, I immediately downloaded the free theme file to my desktop. When it was done, I unzipped it and looked for the Readme.txt file.
Hold it, the answer isn’t in there 🙁 but… it does lead me to the answer. Inside that Readme.txt file is a link to the documentation on that theme.
Clicked it. Okay…hummmm still no answer 🙁 . Then I clicked the tabs and… Oh! There’s that little booger…hidden under “Features”! Got the answer and was able to go fix it. Note: I went back over to WordPress.org and provided the answer to the ladies 🙂 .
Read me, read me, read me! No, Seriously README!
Most bloggers, non-developers and even some newbie developers don’t know about the Readme.txt file. And I have to say, I know about it and forget to look there sometimes…especially with plugins. Plugins should also contain a Readme.txt file.
What are Readme.txt files?
Well, to see one in action with the details of what it should contain – click here.
The file basically lists out things like:
- Name of the theme or plugin, along with the developer, version, compatibility etc.
- Description what the theme or plugin does.
- Installation instructions describing how to install it and get things working.
- Frequently Asked Questions are questions the theme or plugin developer may anticipate a user to ask. They provide those answers ahead of time.
- Screenshots of what the home page of the theme looks like or for the plugin.
- Changelog which indicates all the changes that has happened with the plugin by version.
- And a few other things that you can see if you clicked here.
When planning out your website and selecting a theme – make sure you look for themes that provide good documentation…documentation should be easily accessible and clearly written. This will save you a lot of time.Documentation should be easily accessible and clearly written. #WordPress #bloggers #newbloggers #wordpressthemes #genesiswp Click To Tweet
Troubleshooting can be tedious and if you don’t know how to fix it or even how to research fixing it…reach out to me via the Tech Support tab or contact another developer. I am sure we can find the answer for you.