As with all such questions, the correct simple answer is, it depends. Obviously as a web support company, its in my interest to sell you WordPress help as a service, which I am more than happy to do 😉 However, the level of help you might need and where you should look to get it is going to depend on a few things:
What You are Trying to Accomplish
Is what you trying to accomplish something simple like figuring out how to change a color within a WordPress template or is it more complex like adding eccomerce functions to a site for the first time? Simple tutorials may guide you through small fixes and enhancements while you may want to take advantage of paid services if the task is much larger.
Your Technical Skill
WordPress is famous for its ease of use and plug-in environment whereby you can add relatively complex functionality by pointing, clicking and installing a plugin. Not everything can be solved with a plugin though. I often advise my clients that are seeking an exact experience on their website, that WordPress plugins may provide 80% of the functionality they are looking for. The question then becomes what to do with the remaining 20%, do you have the technical skills to modify the application to work exactly the way you want, the budget to pay someone to do it for you or do learn to live with the solution the plugin provided?
Whether You Are Interested In Learning or Just Getting it Done
In business time is always a factor. However on a more personal project, maybe its worth taking a little extra time and making the challenge a learning process. As a professional web developer and someone who provides WordPress help and support as a core service, I am always learning. I’m not afraid to admit that hardly a task goes by that I don’t have Google open in another tab. In fact I would argue that is one of the greatest things about being a developer, you never stop learning. The catch here is that, we don’t always have time to learn on the job and sometimes we simply need to get things done.
Everything comes down to money and time, right? If you are operating your site on shoestring budget, you may put more effort into online research or working with the web support channels discussed below versus simply paying someone to make your problem go away. On the flip side if this the challenge is a critical issue and budget allows, it might be worth everyone’s time and money to hire a professional.
Where to Go for WordPress Help
Duh! Seriously?! This would obviously be a lame article on how to get WordPress help if all did was tell you to sue Google… So lets just leave the obvious alone.
Not only does WordPress provide this amazing CMS as open source, but they also provide a great forum at https://wordpress.org/support/ where you can find help with almost everything WordPress related. This is truly where you can see the open source community working hard to help each other out and live up to what open source is supposed to be all about.
Do a search and see if your question has been asked before and if not, don’t be shy, setup an account and ask away. I have found that the simpler the question is the faster it gets answered but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask complex questions, its more about how you phrase them. Don’t forget to pay it forward, if you see someone in need of help that you may have the answer for go ahead and chime in, it will be appreciated.
The beauty about these forums is that it is a conversation and not just an FAQ. Any issue can have many posts to it and a running conversation as the challenge is stepped through by the community.
Plugin and Theme Support Forums
WordPress.org also provides support forums for each plugin and theme that is published and distributed through them. WordPress help in these forums can come from the community but it is usually thought to be the plugin or theme publisher’s responsibility to monitor these forums and provide support for their product. In fact before I commit to using a plugin, I will often visit the forum and see what kind of activity there is. Is the plugin author active and providing help, are people reporting a lot of serious issues, etc?
Commercial Theme and Plugin Developers
Sometimes we download or buy themes and plugins outside of the WordPress.org market place. If this is the case you can often visit the publisher’s website and find support resources such as FAQs, forums, contact forms etc. Any good plugin or theme should come with some level of support. In fact support is often a differentiator between the free and licensed versions of WordPress themes and plugins. The level of WordPress help you can expect from these vendors varies greatly. Before buying a commercial theme or plugin check what your support options are, see what current issues users are reporting and how fast it takes for a response to any reported issue that come up as part of your pre-sales evaluation process.
This is where Google comes back into play because you’ll often find blogs and tutorial sites amongst the listings as you search for an answer to your question. However I recommend that you pick a few go-to’s that you trust and know to be good resources. Visit these guys first to see if a well written tutorial or discussion has already occurred regarding your issue. Two of my favorites are WPBeginner and Tuts+.
WordPress Support Companies
And of course the sales pitch, right? You knew it was coming, but I’ll keep it light.
For those that don’t want the learning curve, time waiting on support forums and simply want their issue addressed, there’s a number of companies that provide WordPress help as a support service. Each one is a little different so evaluate them and make sure they provide the kind of services you are looking for. From quick fixes to web consulting, ensure they have the in-house skills to meet your needs. I have said before and I’ll say it again, it’s why I founded FatLab Web Support, I highly recommend that you work with a company that provides support as a core service and not just as an add-on. I have written about it before, but it is my belief that it is hard to provide quality website support services when your primary business objective is to sell new websites.
When seeking WordPress help, first determine the urgency of your issue(s), your budget and your own willingness to learn. Doing so will allow you to determine the most appropriate channel for support.
photo by: marc falardeau