We support as wide of a variety of blog configurations as possible, but there is a limit to what's reasonable to expect from support, which we restrict to specifically theme issues. A theme can only reasonably offer 10%-20% of the total effort required to run a successful food blog.
What theme issues are, can be difficult to identify for anyone non-technical, and even sometimes technical people with experience in different ecosystems.
Only developers familiar with a given setup are really qualified to identify what is and is not a child theme issue. This is because, going from narrow to increasingly more broad and complex:
- Child themes are developed to provide aesthetic blog changes, and use customizations and features implemented by the Genesis framework, which is installed on approximately 500,000 blogs worldwide
- Frameworks remove, add to, and modify the WordPress core to provide best-practices out of the box (and come with their own sets of challenges)
- The WordPress core fundamentally changes how PHP operates, re-ordering and re-structuring code flow
- PHP relies on different server environments and settings, which can be poorly set up by cheap bottom-barrel webhosts (anything under $15 USD/month), or locked-down and well managed by more premium hosts (generally $30+ USD/month)
To compound this complexity even further:
- Plugins can add, remove or change how the child theme operates in unpredictable ways
- There are various HTML elements that can be used to achieve the same result, depending on developer preference
- CSS controls how the outputted HTML is visually styled, and can add elements, hide elements, re-order certain elements, and sometimes make things behave how they weren't intended to
- Caching can occur at the server level, DNS level or browser level and can make changes either "not appear" in real time, or suddenly appear hours or days later, making the true cause of the change difficult to identify
This is why generic hosting companies (especially the cheap ones) aren't qualified to troubleshoot and identify issues with our themes. Even technically knowledgeable people in some ecosystems can have difficulty nailing down specific issues and causes. Further, even between developers, there's some disagreement about how certain things should be handled and certain methodologies.
This is why themes often get blamed for issues that are not actually theme issues and why we require customers to submit issues through the support ticket page.
WordPress offers perhaps too much customization ability for the average blogger, allowing them install conflicting and unnecessary plugins without proper guidance on where to stop.
Not only does caching sometimes hide issues, but other issues (such as Google Search Console warnings) can take days or weeks to appear, depending on the severity of the issue and the crawl rate for a site.
You're also not constantly auditing your site and layout. Just because you noticed your footer had a formatting issue after a specific plugin update, doesn't mean that plugin update caused the issue. It may have happened hours, days, or weeks before, without you noticing.
Because of this, bloggers often misidentify of cause and effect, incorrect identifying the source or timing of an issue.
The interactions between various plugins and services is incredibly complex and requires a deeper understanding than a blogger can reasonably be expected to have. That's why you have professional assistance.
This is where webmasters come in - people who specializing in managing and maintaining blogs. For a fee, webmasters will keep your site running well and provide guidance on how to structure the website and plugins, based on their years of experience and what's worked well with similar blogs.
Like all things in life, there are varying levels of webmasters and support - good webmasters knowledgeable in food blogs charge in excess of $1000 per month. We recommend Andrew @ NerdPress for WordPress management.
There's a simple solution to all this: if you run a food blog, stop fiddling unnecessarily with technical and stylistic changes, which is not going to earn you more revenue. Our default configurations get you 99% of the way there, and are based on thousands of hours of testing and modifying to set you up with best practices.
Spend your time cooking, taking pictures and creating beautiful food recipes - that's what earns you income.
If you want to take a stab at learning to troubleshoot yourself, here's a few resources.
- Learning even the basics, like using inspect element, can go a long way
- If you want to upskill yourself, you could take Carrie Dils' course on troubleshooting
- The Query Monitor plugin is gives great insight into different parts of the blog that could be going wrong
- Did you know there's a hidden settings page? You'll find this at /wp-admin/options.php (no link, it must be typed in)
- Use the Health Check & Troubleshooting plugin following this video from WPRM
Like all things, you'll get better at this with practice. It will take hundreds of hours of trial and error and Google-fu to get competent. Use your time wisely.
Performing updates on a staging site is key to avoiding unnecessary stress and downtime. Staging sites are provided by quality hosting companies and should be used regularly.