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How WordPress 5.2 Allows Non-Geeks to Fix Websites

WordPress has always run smoothly most of the time, but when something did go wrong only developers could fix it in many cases… until now.

You may have heard about the WordPress 5.2 version features but didn’t realize what it actually means.

With WordPress 5.2, the world’s leading website CMS now allows mere mortals to not only run the software successfully and update it risk-free but also to check and fix it once there are actual issues.

WordPress Works Fine Unless You Update Things Incorrectly

WordPress works well most of the time. While updates always pose a risk, in most cases you can update your WordPress installation, themes, or plugins without any issue.

Minor updates even happen automatically. Most updates are minor yet sometimes you have to decide and push the button yourself when WordPress introduces significant changes.

Ideally, you back up your content every time you update something manually. When an error occurs, one of a few things could be happening:

  • usually, a theme or plugin does not work with the latest versions and something breaks.
  • Sometimes a transfer stops in the process because of network problems or slow Internet connections.
  • In some cases, your WordPress may be incompatible with the PHP or MySQL on your server. (It won’t happen on EasyWP though as we always use the latest stable versions.)

When sh*t hits the fan, most people can’t deal with that. They need support from geeks. The “white screen of death” or “Internal Server Error” are the worst. They don’t tell us what happens at all.

As people expect things to break like this they often do not even start using WordPress because they are afraid to be at the mercy of developers they can’t really afford. At least they assume they can’t. Luckily doing things wrong on WordPress has become much more difficult now. Fixing things, in contrast, has become much easier.

Non-Geeks Rejoice! WordPress 5.2 Allows You to Check Your Site

update WordPress notice

Now this problem has been solved by the WordPress makers. Mere mortals can finally see and deal with such errors themselves ideally.

WordPress 5.2 nicknamed Jaco introduces so-called “PHP Error Protection”.

What the heck is PHP? It is the actual coding language WordPress is built on. The errors it showed were rarely human readable. They needed an experienced developer to understand.

php error protection

With PHP Error Protection the site does not literally break anymore. It also doesn’t simply throw errors only web developers and programmers can decipher or fix. Instead, site visitors see in the worst case—when the error is on top of the file—a matter of fact sentence saying: The site is experiencing technical difficulties.

this site is experiencing technical difficulties screenshot

This type of down to earth is more prone to restore confidence in your site once it’s down than actual PHP errors saying “fatal error” or downright empty pages. It may also obscure the actual origin of the error though and users may wonder whether their hosting experiences some issues even though the title of the page says “WordPress Error”.

Like many simplifications, this is in a way a double-edged sword. For the end user, it’s beneficial because the site looks less broken than in the past.

At the same time, the administrator of the WordPress software gets a mail message with a link leading to the issue and its potential solution.

The messages feature a one-time link to the WordPress recovery mode that looks similar to this one:

http://example.com/blog/wp-login.php?action=enter_recovery_mode&rm_key=grojCCZibuAJwwlVsmXVQe

We tested that by adding PHP errors manually. Apparently, it takes a while until WordPress sends the message—approximately two hours—to allow you to fix the issue before you get notified:

example of WordPress error message email

When you click the “enter recovery mode” link you will be sent to the WordPress admin and there you will also see that the theme or plugin that caused the error has been disabled.

WordPress users can also look for the actual error cause in the WordPress backend, in the new and enhanced Site Health report. It offers plentiful data and some straightforward suggestions on improving overall website stability and security. The Site Health report has been already introduced in WordPress 5.1 but also has been further improved in version 5.2 Jaco.

The Underlying Code is Almost Unbreakable Now

Most errors won’t happen at all anymore in the first place simply because WordPress won’t let you install plugins that do not work with your installed versions of

  • WordPress
  • PHP
  • MySQL

Even in case an issue occurs, you are able to deal with it yourself by deactivating plugins and themes one by one with ease.

Even accidentally editing and breaking code is almost impossible now as WordPress will automatically check the correct syntax upfront. Instead of saving faulty code it will be “rolled back”:

your php changes have been rolled back

As you see the “force is with you” and even those who aren’t tech geeks can use WordPress now without being afraid to break things.

Even if you prefer to finally call for a spectacled geek with sagging eyes who hasn’t seen the sun in months, you will be able to provide the information needed by looking it up in the Site Health interface.

No Need to Go to the Doctor! Check Your Site Health Now!

The Site Health feature provides a wealth of information that will make the heart of any nerd beat faster. Just go to Tools in the left vertical menu and then click Site Health to view suggestions on how to fix and improve website security and performance (speed):

site health status panel

Above you see a screenshot showing some issues from an actual site. Even the critical issues won’t break the site immediately. You just need to take care of those rather sooner than later.

What more do you need to feel more confident about using WordPress for your next project?

WordPress is ready for prime time now so anybody can use it. When you are still scared of using a content management system it’s not because a CMS like WordPress is scary but because you are underestimating your expertise. Are you still afraid to use WordPress, or confident enough to give it a try?

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Tadeusz Szewczyk avatar

Tadeusz Szewczyk

Tadeusz Szewczyk—who is rather known as Tad Chef—helps people with blogs, social media, and search. He has created and optimized websites since 1999 and has used WordPress since 2004. More articles written by Tadeusz .

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