As you get more confident using your website day-to-day, you’ll find you become comfortable making your own small changes and fixes. When you opt for a WordPress website, there are lots of places you can turn for help deciding what to do.
Whether you’re asking about a paid theme, a free plugin, or have a general WordPress question – there’s likely to be someone, somewhere in the world who can give you an answer. Or at least point you in the right direction.
At WordCamp Brighton recently, I spent half a day answering support questions. So I thought it would be useful to share with you the various places you can find help for free, and how best to structure your questions for accurate answers.
WordPress.org vs WordPress.com support
It’s important to make the distinction between WordPress.com and WordPress.org.
WordPress.com is a fully managed website package, run by the company Automattic.
WordPress.org, is the highly customisable, open source, self-hosted version of WordPress. If Callia Web has built your website, it’ll be using the WordPress.org software. WordPress.org support is often provided by unpaid volunteers.
This post focuses on getting help with your WordPress.org website. If you’re looking for WordPress.com help, head over to the customer support page here.
Where to find answers
One of the many benefits of having a WordPress.org website is being part of a community who are more than happy to answer your questions.
You don’t even need to have a premium theme or plugin to get free help from WordPress experts.
But with so many different people willing to help you, sometimes it can be tricky to figure out exactly who to ask in the first place.
So where are the best places to find answers to your WordPress questions?
The WordPress.org support forums are packed full of answers to all sorts of WordPress questions. Chances are your question has been asked before, so it’s a good idea to search the forums for a solution.
The easiest way to search the forums is using Google. Read on to find out how.
General WordPress.org support
Perhaps you’re using WordPress for the first time and need some general advice on how it functions. Or maybe you want to know something a bit more specific like what the best colour is to cater for people with colour blindness.
In this case, you can type this query into Google:
site:wordpress.org/support/ color blind best colour
This searches within the WordPress.org support forums and returns the following result:
Plugins and themes support
Rather than a general question about WordPress, you may have a question about a specific plugin or theme installed on your website.
Finding plugin answers
To get answers for a specific plugin question, you can browse the plugin documentation and FAQs, or search the WordPress.org support forum.
First, go to the Plugins section of your website Dashboard:
From here you can click on “View details” for the plugin you’re having trouble with:
This brings up details about the plugin, which can include FAQs, documentation and support:
If you can’t find an answer to your question here, click on the “WordPress.org Plugin Page” link in the right hand column.
This takes you to the support forum for this plugin where there are often answers to very specific questions. Here you can also ask your own question (see below for the best way to do this).
You can also try browsing the plugins and hacks forum.
Finding theme answers
The WordPress.org forum is also an excellent place to find help with specific themes.
Alternatively you can also browse the themes and templates forum, for answers to your theme questions.
Paid/premium themes tend to come with support when you purchase them. In this case, you can contact the theme creator directly, instead of browsing the support forums. For example, the StudioPress (makers of the Genesis Framework) support portal is access through your My StudioPress account. There is also the StudioPress Community Forum where you can ask the wider Genesis community questions.
Easily search the WordPress.org support forums for plugin and theme answers
Just like your general WordPress questions, you can easily search the support forum for answers to your plugin and theme questions.
Remember to include the name of the plugin or theme in your search query. It can also help to include the version number.
Say for example you had a question about the free WordPress theme, Twenty Sixteen. Perhaps you’re trying to find out how to change the h1 colours.
If you Google the following:
site:wordpress.org/support/ twenty sixteen h1 colour change
You’d find this resolved forum question with the answer to this question:
How to ask a question to get the best answer
If you’ve had a good look around and find your WordPress question hasn’t been answered elsewhere, it’s time to ask for help.
The following advice on structuring your support questions will improve your chances of getting accurate answers.
This applies to all questions – whether it’s about a theme, a plugin or something more general.
1. Make your subject title specific
People scan the support forums looking for questions they can knowledgeably answer. That’s why a specific title is more likely to attract the person with the right experience to be able to help you.
In the Twenty Sixteen support query above, the subject title, “Change h1 color in Twenty Sixteen” is nice and specific. Someone looking through the support forums will quickly know whether or not they’ll be able to help.
Vague subject titles such as “Help me” or “Theme problem” don’t provide any idea of the problem at hand. This means you could wait longer until your question is answered, or you might not get the specific answer you need.
2. Make your issue clear
Describe exactly what you were trying to do, what you expected to happen and what actually happened. Include plugin, software or theme versions where relevant.
3. Show your problem
Provide a link to your website and any specific pages, images or items you’re having a problem with.
To be completely sure the person helping you is viewing the correct page, it’s best to copy and paste these links from your browser.
And if you know where the problem is in your website code, you can paste code in too.
4. Describe what you’ve tried
Have you already tried to troubleshoot the issue? If so, describe what you’ve done so far. That way you won’t go round in circles trying the same fix again.
5. Watch out for your security
Remember your support query is public and can stay online indefinitely. So it’s very important not to post sensitive information such as login details for your website.
Other places you can find help
There’s a whole community of people out there willing to answer questions and offer advice. Many share insight on their own blogs and on Twitter. WP Tavern is a great place to start if you’re keen to learn more.
You can also meet WordPress experts at your local WordPress meetups and at WordCamps across the world.
Pay it forward
Everyone was a WordPress beginner once. Even though you might think of yourself as a beginner now – one day you too could answer support questions.
Much of the reason WordPress.org is such a success, is because of the generosity of those willing to give their time to help others.
When the time comes, consider paying it forward by giving back to WordPress too.
Take a look at Make WordPress to see all the different ways you can get involved. Even if answering support questions isn’t your area, there are many other ways to help out – from organising a WordCamp to translating WordPress.
Lastly, here’s a video from WordCamp Montréal walking through getting help from the WordPress support forums:
Need help taking care of your website day-to-day? Find out more about our WordPress site maintenance service.