Blog Troubleshooting: “Uh oh! My blog won’t display!”

Back out recent changes to get to a version that works, and rebuild from there. I started by reloading the original theme files for Cutline 3-Column Split. I created a WordPress page for Petitions and moved the petition boxes into it. To cut back on the load time and reduce visual complexity, I also decided to move the IT and Computing Links and the Mobile Web Links into separate WordPress pages also. Links to all of the blog’s pages are prominently displayed under the Pages header in the sidebar (see Resources).

So what are the take-home lessons here?

  1. If you notice that someone else’s blog isn’t displaying correctly, don’t automatically assume that the blog owner is already aware of the problem. Maybe not! You can help by sending an email or other message indicating what browser you are using, and describing exactly what happened (or failed to happen).
  2. On a regular basis, look at your own blog in several different browsers, including the mobile web interface if you have one. Be sure to view the blog before you have signed on as a blog admin. In addition, check your feed output and any other features that involve user interaction, such as polls and response forms.
  3. It is not worthwhile to hack or tweak your blog template just to squeeze an odd-sized widget or graphic into a sidebar or other page element. You’ll end up with a lopsided theme that might not load properly. It’s better to find an entirely different place to display that item. And if you do any WP theme-hacking, be sure to test your new or modified theme in as many browsers as you can before releasing it for use in anyone’s blog!
  4. Track your stats and check them often. It’s a good idea to use several tracking tools. For example, Google Analytics gives you a breakdown of visitors by browser type as well as by referrer (i.e., the site that the visitor came from). If visitor counts, and time spent on your blog, decline for a particular type of browser, that may mean that your blog performs poorly for that browser. If you stop getting traffic from a certain referrer, perhaps you are being blocked in some way. Other utilities, such as Google Webmaster Tools, can tell you whether search engine spiders are able to index your site’s pages so that the public can find you.

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