It was late Friday afternoon and I had tweaked and tinkered long enough to break the WordPress site I was building. “Error message 500 – Internal server error. There is a problem with the resource you are looking for, and it cannot be displayed.”
Lesson number 1: I knew I should have taken that one incredibly valuable Providence Word Camp session on fixing a broken site. “Expletive me!”
Lesson number 2: Learning from experience, and having my own site broken and down for over a month, I immediately emailed my client and told her the unfortunate news.
“I did something I should not have done. Please phone GoDaddy right away (her host) and tell them the following:
I went to Settings > Permalinks
Tried to change the “Common Settings” from “Default” to a “Custom Structure”
I clicked on the Custom Structure radio button and typed in /%category%/%postname%/
Everything went down: 500 – Internal Server error.”
Fortunately my client understands the challenges of technology, which is why she hired me to do the dirty work. To our surprise, the person she spoke to at GoDaddy told her that GoDaddy does not offer support on WordPress sites. They only offer a one-click WordPress install because so many of their customers have requested WordPress sites. I was now beginning to appreciate my former hosting company, aSmallOrange. At least they finally fixed my site after a customer service rep unsuccessfully talked me through moving my site from a subdomain folder to my main domain folder. ASmallOrange head tech even gave me his direct e-mail for further questions. Ah, it’s like missing an old boyfriend on a Saturday night…but it was only Friday night and I was still feeling a little hopeful.
Lesson number 3: Before signing up for hosting a WordPress site, ask your web host if one of their techs will help you get your site back up and running if/when you break it.
Unwilling to throw in the towel just yet, I checked the WordPress Codex for how to fix 500 Internal server errors, which prompted another phone call to my client. “Can you please give me your FTP information?”
“Oh, my husband has that, and he’s out of town on a business trip.”
Lesson number 4: If you design a WordPress website for someone else, do not begin their site without this information which they would have received from their web host when they first signed up:
• Renewal due date (Yes, I learned the hard way on that one, too! = Lesson number 5)
• Login Username and Password
• Server Information: Server Name, Server IP, Nameserver 1, Nameserver 2
• Temporary FTP Hostname
• FTP Hostname
• Webpage URL
• Pop3 Email settings
• SMTP Email settings
Lesson number 6?
Fortunately I also own a copy of ServerPress which allows me to build a WordPress site on my desktop. Unfortunately my client can’t see what it looks like until it’s uploaded to a hosting company’s server, or in a subdirectory of my own website, but for now, I can quickly re-create the site I spent the last week building. This time, however, if I tweak to disaster I can fix what’s been broken because all the site files reside on my desktop; not on some server far, far away, who’s customer service person responds with, “Oh, we don’t do that.”