Troubleshooting a WordPress Site: Where Is My Sub-Menu?

How our members worked together to resolve an issue on a WordPress website

At our September 2016 meetup, we held a Q & A workshop where our Metro Detroit WordPress members can get answers about their WordPress site from other members. Or they can ask specific questions about WordPress features and functionality.

Because it’s community-focused, the Q & A workshop is one of my favorite meetup formats. It’s where we learn about each other sites and what members do.

Our Q & A workshops are casual, with people moving from table to table to help each other. Or just listen in to hear what other people are doing on their site.

What’s the Issue?

One of our members was having issues with her self-hosted WordPress website, where the sub-menu wasn’t displaying.

She was using the Divi theme on her site, one of the drag-and-drop premium WordPress themes, which has a lot of built-in functionality that’s usually provided through plugins.

Divi recently released version 3.0, which none of our Metro Detroit WordPress members had worked with.

Nevertheless, several people stepped up to the challenge to try to find a solution. Which they did!

Troubleshooting

Knowing others go through similar situations, trying to figure out why some feature isn’t working as expected on their site, we wanted to document the steps.

1. Backup the Site

Before making any changes, backup your site. That means backing up both the files and the database.

You can find lots of free backup plugins in the WordPress repository. Additionally, there are many premium backup solutions.

WP Beginner recently published a review of several WordPress backup plugins.

Luckily our member already had a backup plugin installed on her site, so a backup was quickly completed.

2. Update WordPress

You always want to have the most current version of WordPress installed on your site.

WordPress releases major updates and security updates regularly, it’s important that your site has the latest version to stay secure.

One of our members helped to get the latest WordPress version updated on the site. Still, the problem persisted.

3. Update Themes and Plugins

As with WordPress, you want to make sure you have the latest versions of the themes and plugins installed.

Developers update themes and plugins to incorporate new features from the latest WordPress version, to fix bugs, and to add new plugin functionality.

If you’re having an issue that is theme- or plugin-related, it’s possible the latest version will fix your problem. Why waste time searching for a solution when an update will resolve the problem?

Her site themes and plugins were updated, but the sub-menu still wouldn’t display.

4. Activate the Latest Twenty XXX Theme

This is a tried-and-true solution to many issues.

The latest Twenty XXX theme is the default theme installed with every new WordPress installation (at the time of this post, the latest is the Twenty Sixteen theme).

These themes are used to rule out any issues that might be theme-related.

Review in Other Browsers and Devices

At times, a browser or device might be the culprit.

Checking the site in different browsers or on different devices (tablets, smartphones, etc.) can help narrow down the cause of the issue.

This wasn’t the case for our member’s site.

Unfortunately, the sub-menu wouldn’t display in other browsers, nor in other devices.

Theme Options

Many free and premium themes have Theme Options that control fonts, CSS, menus, and other features in the theme.

Voilà!

That was where the issue was, a custom CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) setting was the reason the sub-menu wasn’t displaying.

The existing CSS code in her site was copied to a text file for safe keeping. The CSS was updated, saved, and the sub-menu displayed.

In Conclusion

Troubleshooting the WordPress theme on our member’s site only took a few steps. We were lucky it wasn’t a more involved issue, with conflicting plugins or an issue with the web host.

If you find yourself needing to troubleshoot your site, always start by:

  1. Backing up the site, both database and files
  2. Updating to the latest WordPress version
  3. Updating to the latest theme and plugins

Shoutout to our members Angela Samuels, Randy Wright, Andy Melichar, and Eric Malcolm for their help in troubleshooting the issue!

Photo credit: Randy Wright

WordCamp Cincinnati 2016 – Call for Speakers, Sponsors and Volunteers

WordCamps, which are held each year across the globe, are informal, community-organized events that are put together by enthusiastic WordPress users to share information regarding website design and best practices within the WordPress ecosystem. WordPress Cincinnati, 2016 is the first WordCamp to ever be held in Cincinnati.

WordCamp attendees will include website developers, bloggers, and business owners that cut across a broad spectrum of interests and experiences. During WordCamp we will discuss how WordPress can be used to build websites, blogs, and apps. Because WordCamp is run by a dedicated group of volunteers and subsidized by generous sponsors, we are able to offer two days of knowledge based sharing for just $40. Comparable events range in price from $400 to upwards of $1900.

We invite the local and regional community to contribute to the success of this first event by participating as outlined below.

Invitation to Speakers:

If you would like to support the WordPress community by sharing your WordPress insights, please submit your proposal at WordCamp Cincinnati Speakers. Application deadline is August 14, 2016. We look forward to hearing from you!

Invitation to Sponsors:

Sponsorship of WordCamp Cincinnati 2016 will provide exposure to a broad assortment of WordPress users – from agencies, businesses, developers, bloggers, and designers. We invite you to support the local WordPress community. Enroll to be a sponsor at WordCamp Cincinnati Sponsors.

Invitation to Volunteers:

If you would like to support the WordPress community by volunteering, please sign up at WordCamp Cincinnati Volunteers.

Invitation to Attendees:

If you’d like to guarantee a spot at this popular event, register to attend at WordCamp Attendees.

We look forward to your participation and support of WordCamp Cincinnati 2016!

Takeaways from Fixing a Hacked Site

Seth Alling

At last month’s Metro Detroit WordPress meetup, Seth Alling presented on hacked sites, discussing the causes and what you can do to prevent your site from being hacked.

Members shared some of their own stories of hacks as well as useful resources. It was a great discussion at the end of the talk; thanks to Seth for his presentation!

And thanks to new member Christine Zheng, we have a recap of Seth’s presentation. Here are Christine’s notes:

Fixing a Hacked Site

Hack Types

There are three common hacks:

  • WordPress plugin hack
  • Malware hack
  • Themes hack

There are many causes of hacked sites, including:

  • Poor hosting
  • Bad or poorly coded plugin
  • Out of date software, which can be targeted by malware
  • Improper file permissions

To find the cause:

Step 1: Use Shell commands

List file with improper file permissions
find .–perm 777

List php files modified within last day
find .-name”.php” –mtime 1 -print

List general-template.php files with base64
Find.-name “general-template.php” – exec grep –H”base64”{}\;

List general-template.php files with base64 in text file
find.-name “general-template.php” –exec grep-H”base64{}\;”>hacked.txt

Step 2: Establish Your Game Plan

Don’t just dive in, figure out the best solution. For example, if your host doesn’t provide shell access, contact your web host customer support.

Step 3: Remove Hack and Change Passwords

Find out what is really causing the problem.

Manually fix:

  • Take full back up if possible, of all files and the database
  • Delete unwanted corrupted files and replace hacked files
  • Search through pages and/or database for additional corruptions and remove
  • Change password of admin users(and possibly users with other role as well)
  • Test, test, test
  • Take full backup when complete

Use the Force Plugin Updates plugin when you reactivate plugins.

Fix in bulk:

  • Manually remove hack on 1 site
  • Write script to do what you need
  • Run script on one single site
  • Test, test, test
  • Run script across multiple sites
  • Example scripts from Seth you can use on a host with cPanel (you’ll need root access to your server)

Step 3: Increase Security

  • Make sure everything is upgraded
  • Make sure backups are working; run a test first to insure
  • Have a security plugin
  • Use a password manager, LastPass, Dashlane
  • Send passwords/logins with Onetime Secret, or keep info in a notebook or offline
  • Do not sent the passwords via email – but message
  • Use Two-factor authentication (2FA), Clef, Duo, Google Authenticator
  • Remove unused sites
  • Check file permissions-don’t set it to 777 permission
  • Use strong passwords
  • Consider changing WordPress structure, because most hackers are trying to hack in bulk
  • Depending on your time, or if all else fails, hire security company (such as, Sucuri Security)

Summary

Be prepared for hack. Consider using the iThemes Security plugin. Another option is to set up Cloudflare security.

You may want to consider not turning on all the features, IP login. Whitelist log in IP.
When you’re adding a new plugin to a site, validate the plugin. Read reviews and check star rankings.

Check out the slides from Seth’s presentation.

Thanks to Larisa for taking and sharing photos from the meetup.

Additional Resources

February 2016 Developer Code Share / Show and Tell

Attendees seated waiting for meetup to begin

For our February 2016 developer code share/show and tell, four Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup members shared their tips and insights on WordPress development. Continue reading “February 2016 Developer Code Share / Show and Tell”

January 2016 WordPress Q & A Workshop Recap

At last night’s Q & A workshop, we had lots of great questions about WordPress, how to use it, set it up, configure plugins, style, and troubleshoot issues.

Glad to see so many new faces interested in learning about WordPress! Continue reading “January 2016 WordPress Q & A Workshop Recap”

Recap: WordPress Social Media & Security Basics

April’s Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup at United Way – Campus Martius included a pair of presentations on two popular WordPress-related topics; security and social media. Eric Malcolm delivered a crash course titled, “WordPress Security Basics” where he dove into the finer details of the iThemes Security Plugin. Following Eric, Angela Samuels explained how to take charge of social media with WordPress in her talk titled, “WordPress, Social Media and How it All Fits Together”. Here are my notes from those two talks, WordPress Social Media & Security Basics. Continue reading “Recap: WordPress Social Media & Security Basics”

Recap: WordPress Presents! How to Boost (or Even Replace) PowerPoint With WordPress

In his talk for Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup at United Way – Campus Martius, Jim Luke walked us through several different methods for embedding and displaying slide presentations in WordPress. Here are my notes from his talk, WordPress Presents! How to Boost (or Even Replace) PowerPoint with WordPress. Continue reading “Recap: WordPress Presents! How to Boost (or Even Replace) PowerPoint With WordPress”

What’s New with WordPress 4.1 and the Twenty Fifteen Theme – January 2015 Meetup

Monday, January 12, 2015
6:30 PM to 8:00 PM

For our January meetup, we’re taking a look at the recent WordPress 4.1 release and the new Twenty Fifteen default theme. Join us as our Metro Detroit WordPress leaders give an overview of the features and updates you can expect to find in WordPress 4.1 at the first meetup of 2015. Continue reading “What’s New with WordPress 4.1 and the Twenty Fifteen Theme – January 2015 Meetup”

Recap: VaultPress – A Plugin for Your Backup Needs

In her talk for Metro Detroit WordPress Meetup at Grand Circus, Jacklyn Stachurski, a happiness engineer at Automattic, walked through the history and details of the VaultPress plugin and how it compares to similar solutions on the market. Here are my notes from her talk on VaultPress: A plugin for your backup needs: Continue reading “Recap: VaultPress – A Plugin for Your Backup Needs”