3 Unexpected Ways To Break Your Website

There are a lot of pitfalls to fall into when building, redesigning, or updating a website. No one wants to see the white screen of death instead of the login page. How do you avoid breaking your website by accident?

Here are 3 things that you probably didn’t know could break your website.

1. Updating the PHP version

PHP an open-source software that allows websites to talk to a database. Like any software, PHP is updated occasionally to reduce vulnerability and improve functionality. While it is true that an older PHP version can make your website more susceptible to hacks, PHP version updates must be approached with caution. Some plugins and theme files are incompatible with newer PHP versions,. How do you avoid breaking your website when updating PHP? Research which PHP version works best with existing plugins, update PHP in a test environment, and be prepared to hack at plugins to ensure compatibility. Don’t just hit “update” and expect everything to work.

2. Modifying theme files

Theme files are PHP templates that define your website’s appearance. Any changes made to a theme file can affect the appearance and functionality of your entire website. The most sensitive and crucial theme file is functions.php, which defines functions, classes, actions, styles, and more essential website functions. Even when installing noninvasive pieces of code like Google Tag Manager, it’s easy to accidentally add a space or delete a closing bracket. Modifying theme files should be done with intentionality: one misplaced character can break a whole website.

3. Plugin, WordPress, and Theme Updates

Have you ever logged into your website and seen an error message about outdated plugins? It is tempting to hit the update button without asking any questions. However, even simple plugin updates must be approached with care. Newer plugin versions may be incompatible with some versions of WordPress and theme files. Research to ensure that all plugins, WordPress, and theme files are compatible with each other.

Also, if you have a Managed IT Services provider who works on your email or other corporate platforms, make sure they are careful not to change DNS settings while working on internal systems. While these are some unexpected ways to break a website, there are many more simple mistakes that can impede your website’s functionality or ruin its appearance. If you have questions about website design and development, contact our team of website experts.