Finding Help When You Really Need It

By Patty J. Ayers

lifesaverAnyone in this business knows all too well that there are times when we run into a problem we just can’t solve on our own. I learned a long time ago how important it is to know how to find the help I need when I’m in that situation.

Googling for WordPress information. For WordPress-specific problems, I find that judicious Googling is the most useful. Yes, there are the WordPress.org Forums, but though I know they’re run entirely by volunteers and I respect and appreciate that, I have almost never found an answer there. Unfortunately many questions aren’t answered at all, and many answers are so old that they are of no use. So I tend to Google-search, and almost always can find an answer among the thousands of blogs dedicated to discussing WordPress.

Dedicated support forums. If the problem is with software such as a WordPress theme or plugin, there may be an active support forum; naturally that’s the first line of defense. It’s important to learn how to have impeccable manners on these forums, if you want help, that is. Most forums post their rules, and you should read them before posting. But almost every support forum will want you to (1) search their forum for answers to your problem before you post, (2) in your post, provide full, detailed information about the problem, including a URL to the problem site if at all possible, (3) be extremely courteous, and (4) be patient – it may take a day or two to get a reply.

Geeky colleagues. Wherever you can find them and make friends, do it! There’s nothing better than a friendly associate who does similar work and doesn’t mind looking at your problem and offering help if possible. Try to get out there in cyberspace and meet people who produce websites and work with WordPress. You can find them via blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Be nice to them and keep their contact information. And when they ask you for help, do your best.

Paid WordPress support. Companies offering a leg-up to people working with WordPress are sprouting up all over. WPMU-Dev offers a package of WordPress themes and plugins as well as live support from experts, all for a monthly fee. There’s also WP Engine, a WordPress hosting company which provides some extra levels of support. Depending upon your needs, these services could be a big help.

It’s important to develop the skills to find the solutions you need, because there’s one thing you can count on when developing websites: problems!