I can’t tell you how many times I have heard one of these two things from clients:
“Someone told me I should have the XXX plugin because it will help with [fill in the blank.]. Do you think I need that? Can you install it for me?”
“I would love it if my theme could [fill in the blank.]”
I go in and find that the plugin is already installed. Or I discover that their theme can do that thing they wanted it to do.
So why didn’t they know?
Well, somewhere along the line, there might have been a little miscommunication—or maybe forgetfulness on the part of the designer. Someone didn’t tell someone. Or someone didn’t pay attention. I’m not laying blame, it just happens.
Many designers and developers have a set of standard WordPress plugins that they install on every site. Or sometimes they find one that would fill a specific need for their client. They might install it. Maybe they activate it.
But there are plugins that, in order to be active, need more than initial set-up.
The same thing can happen with themes. Now I understand that sometimes a designer will keep certain theme functions hidden from the client, or not really explained, so they don’t go in and accidentally “muck things up.” But, on the other hand, lots of people have chosen WordPress because they want to manage their own site and make changes themselves.
You could ask questions. But sometimes that’s hard to do that you don’t know which ones to ask.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
So what’s the answer?
Obviously education and more communication between users, designers and developers would help.
But what else can you, the WordPress user, do?
1. Look at all of your installed plugins.
2. If you find some that aren’t activated, and no one has ever shown you how to use them, delete them. If needed, you can always reinstall them.
3. Look at your activated plugins. You may be surprised to find that you already have the one that someone told you that you should get. If you are not sure what it does, simply click on the “Visit Plugin site” for an explanation.
4. Don’t mess with any settings unless you totally understand the plugin.
5. Don’t deactivate and delete just because you aren’t sure why you have it. It’s probably there for a reason.
This is where you can really screw up things. Before you mess with your theme, if someone has designed or set up your site, it’s best to go back and ask them:
1. Did you do any customizations to the theme?
2. Or is everything set up by only using the theme features?
Get clear answers from your designer or developer so you know just what you can do—and what you shouldn’t touch. If they are evasive or uncooperative, consider finding someone who can help you to understand your features.
There is nothing wrong with having someone maintain and update your site. Just arm yourself with knowledge and have an escape plan ready in case that person is abducted by aliens or suddenly moves to Kazakhstan.
Because, after all, it is your site.
Just don’t be left in the dark about your WordPress blog.