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Common website bugs or problems

Common website bugs or problems
– and how to fix them

by David Söderström

There are some common issues website owners run into that can cause minor or major problems. We’re not going to go into problems with loading speed or content, but typical issues that a lot of websites have encountered the last few years or are experiencing right now.

If the information below is not enough, just let us know if you need help solving any of them for your website.

1. Google Maps not loading

Did the map on your contact page suddenly stop working? Maybe instead of a map, showing something like this.

 

Not great, but don’t worry, it’s easy to fix.

This is happening due to a change in Google’s pricing model in 2018. In short, each website map needs to belong to a “project”. Each project needs an API key and also a billing account linked to it.

How to fix it?

While there are plenty of websites providing a guide on how to get your API key, the safest bet is to check Google’s own guide to make sure you don’t get outdated information. You can find that here.

As for billing, it’ll probably not cost you anything. You can have tens of thousands of map views each months for free and if your website starts generating more traffic than that, there’s likely room in the budget for a small map cost anyway.

 

2. PHP 7 (lack thereof) and WordPress cannot be updated

PHP version 7 has been around for several years, but shared hosting alternatives are generally a little slow to provide update options to it. Besides the hosting providers, many website owners don’t know about the possibility to update and what it means.

PHP is a scripting language used for web development. It’s widely used due being open-source and quick to start small to medium-scale projects. It’s also sometimes the only option on shared hosting environment. Lastly it’s the language used for the world’s most popular CMS WordPress.

If you run an old version of PHP, besides getting unhappy developers you’re missing out on performance and security. Just upgrading from PHP 5 to PHP 7 can greatly increase the speed of your PHP-based website.

If you use a WordPress site and run a very old version of PHP (such as PHP 5.3) you are not even able to upgrade WordPress anymore as PHP 5.6. is required (7.2 recommended) to even upgrade. If you cannot keep WordPress updated, you’re putting your site at much greater risk of being hacked.

While most sites have updated to PHP 7, according to stats on wordpress.org, roughly 25% of all WordPress-sites are still running PHP 5.

How to fix it?

If you have access to the widely used control panel cPanel, search for “PHP” to find “Select PHP Version”.

Click it, and in there select the PHP version you want.

If you have another typ of control panel, still try to look for a “PHP Version”-setting. If you don’t find it – contact your hosting provider who should be able to help you.

Note: Before you change anything, take a look at problem 3. below!

 

3. PHP 7 update broke my site

Upgrading to PHP 7 is great and you should do it if it’s not already done.

That said, we know many website owners don’t know about it and will only get the update once their shared hosting provider updates automatically for them. We’ve had several companies who contacted us saying their site was suddenly broken and where we found the reason was their hosting provider had upgraded to PHP 7.

The problem

PHP 7 makes certain code that was previously fine now invalid. This can cause anything from minor errors displayed on the screen in text to the site not loading or loading partially.

While the shared hosting probably contacted the site owner to let them know in advance of the upgrade, many owners won’t know what it’s about and therefore will not act on it. Then, suddenly the site is broken.

How to fix it?

This one may be a little hard to do yourself depending on what site you have. If you have a standard WordPress site, you may be able to at least pinpoint the location of the problem. Try disabling your plugins and see if that solves the issue. If it does, one of those plugins are abandoned and not compatible with PHP 7. Then you can enable them one by one to find out which one is the problem and hopefully find a replacement.

If not a plugin, it might be the theme causing the issue so if possible, try another theme.

If you have a lot of custom coding on your site or a custom web application, you’ll need to contact the developers to have them update the code to make it compatible.

The good news is that such updates are usually quick and easy.

 

4. Emails are not sent from my website forms

It might seem strange for things to just stop working, but from our experience emails from forms not being sent are not uncommon. Since these forms may be critical to your business, it’s important to keep an eye on and have a plan if something happens.

The most common reason for problems is when a dedicated account is used for the sendout and the account has been changed. For example, many companies use Office 365 and use an account from there to handle the emails from their WordPress site. Now, Office 365 always has a password expiration policy defaulting to 90 days. That means that by default, after 90 days the current password will be invalid.

How to fix it?

If the account is used for emails from WordPress, that means the password will need to be updated on the WordPress site too. Alternatively, you can set the password to expire on another interval or never.

Another reason for email issues is when you do not use a dedicated email account but just use the PHP mail() function to send emails which is the default behaviour in WordPress. Some shared hosting providers may determine to disabled the mail() function to prevent spam email being sent from their servers. Of course, they “should” warn you about this, but it’s not not an uncommon problem. To be safe, it’s generally better to use a dedicated account.

 

 

5. Outbound links are broken

This is a short and easy one. When you want to link to another website, please remember to use “https://” (or “http://”) in the link to make it complete – otherwise it’ll be interpreted as a relative link to a page within your own website.

For example, let’s say we want to link to our Twitter page. The full URL is https://twitter.com/RedOnionDev.

If we just put twitter.com/RedOnionDev or www.twitter.com/RedOnionDev into the link, it’ll work like this. Not great.

How to fix it?

With the full URL, it’ll work as intended.

That said, some content managers will handle this for you – just be aware when the do not!

 

6. The flying footer

This last item is not really a bug, but a common issue on websites. The “flying footer” is a footer that doesn’t always stay at the bottom of the page.

It may not be crtical functionality, but it’s an obvious detail that gives your site an overall better impression when the footer stays at the bottom.

How to fix it?

Check out our previous blog post where we talk about it in detail.

 

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