What I Learned From My Website Crashing That You Don’t Have To

For anyone who’s versed in code, these suggestions will be no help or be such no-brainers that you should just skip this. But if you’re like me and more of the content-idea person and can do enough on a website to keep it running, then this might help you avoid this.

Having a crisis plan in place can help in stressful situations.

Having a crisis plan in place can help in stressful situations.

1. Have a Crisis Emergency Plan

I had no crisis plan, so when the site went down, I felt terrified, depressed and was unsure. And that was just the first five minutes. But as the hours stretched on, I had no idea what to do. As someone who touches every aspect of the website, not being able to act was frustrating.

I realize now that I need to have a crisis plan in place for something like this. What do I do if the site crashes again? Who will I call? Within the next few weeks, I will have a list in place of numbers to call.

2. Learn Basic Coding

As I mentioned above, I have always been a content-idea person. I can generate content and come up with ideas, but never learned the depth of coding that could have helped in this situation.

But, I do speak some digital language and can understand some of the errors that I read and, maybe, more importantly, understand what the GoDaddy representatives were telling me on the call. I’m lucky that I’ve had excellent customer service, but knowing the questions to ask helped me get the help I needed. I was able to explain my situation and describe what I was seeing on my end. This hammered home to me when I was telling a co-worker about my situation and realized he had no idea what I was saying. Having some, even rudimentary, knowledge of coding language can help get your resolution faster.

3. Keep A Detailed Log of Changes

This is my No. 1 goal for 2019. Among the first questions, I get on every support call is “have you made any changes and/or updates?” I update plugins once a week and might make some tweaks to my WordPress theme, but I’ve never kept a log of those changes. This has been fine — until now.

I updated to WordPress 5.0 and updated Plugins at the same time, but I don’t know what was updated. It’s possible that one of these updates were not compatible with another plugin or the theme was not supported. Knowing what I updated and when would help me on my support call.

4. Update Your Audience

This is one thing I knew before, but it’s worth sharing. Among the first things I did once I discovered the website was down was sent out a tweet alerting everyone. I send out my weekly newsletter every Sunday morning, so I know my traffic spikes. I needed a way to let people know that it wasn’t them. I sent out several updates through the first day and continued to provide updates.

It’s frustrating to know that a lot of people will go directly to the site and not be able to load it, but at least with some information out there, it can ease the burden. Plus, my followers know I do this alone and are supportive. I feel as if I have to keep them up-to-date.

Communication is always key.

Having a sense of humor and a positive attitude can help when everything seems to be going wrong.

Having a sense of humor and a positive attitude can help when everything seems to be going wrong.

5. Stay Positive and Have a Sense of Humor

I’d be lying if I said my immediate reaction didn’t include a few F-bombs, but after a few rants I calmed myself and went to work on fixing. It’s disheartening to see years worth of work disappear, literally overnight, and it was easy to think that it’s never going to get fixed. But I had to believe that it’s fixable. It’s 0 and 1’s, and some people understand how that works. It’s math, so just because I don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s hopeless.

I used humor to alleviate the stress. It was the perfect time to reference IT Crowd and crack some jokes at my expense. It helped me take a step back and realize that it will take time, but it will get fixed.

I hope it helped my followers too. I know seeing me rant and rave on Twitter would not have made a positive impression on existing or new followers, so what could it have hurt?

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Mike Loveday

I started my journalism career in college as an entertainment writer and eventually moved into the Sports Editor position. After graduation I worked as a Stringer for the Wilmington Star-News and covered Track & Field and Lacorsse. After eight months I was hired as a General Assignment Reporter for the Topsail Voice. In 2006, I was hired by Student Sports as a general assignment writer and moved into the role of Editor for MDVarsity.com. Purchased by ESPN in July 2008, Student Sports relaunched as ESPNRISE.com and I was promoted to the Contact Sports Editor in charge of football and lacrosse. In 2009, I took over lacrosse full-time. I am currently the Founder and COO of LaxRecords.com and the Mid-Atlantic reporter for US Lacrosse and where I manage the Nike/US Lacrosse Top 25 voting panel and a staff of four freelance journalists.