How Do You Test for Theme and Plugin Conflicts?

What are theme and plugin conflicts?

A conflict is an error or malfunction caused by two (or more) parts of code giving conflicting signals. For example, plugin A gives the signal to display some content on a specific section of a page, and plugin B tries to display different content in the same section of the page.

Themes and plugins can provide additional functionality and features on your site — it also means more code is running on your website and the risk of incompatibility is higher. In this documentation page, we will explain how to conduct a theme and plugin conflict test.

While reviewing your site’s error logs can sometimes be helpful they will often only tell you where the error happened and not actually what caused it to happen. If the conflict is causing a fatal error in a default WordPress function, you’ll see that WordPress function listed in the logs. However, it’s not actually that function causing the error. It’s other third-party code on your site that is negatively interacting to cause an error in WordPress. For this reason, it’s often necessary to test for conflicts.

Even though deactivating and reactivating plugins or themes doesn’t cause lasting issues, we never recommend doing this testing on a live site. At Pressable we do automated backups of your files and database on a regular basis, but it’s still best to do this type of testing in a staging environment.

At Pressable we give you the ability to quickly clone your site to a staging environment. This gives you an exact duplicate of your site that can serve as a safe place to make changes, without impacting your live site. If you aren’t sure on how to make a staging site, please see our help guide on how to clone your website to staging.

To troubleshoot theme and plugin conflicts:

  1. Switch to a default WordPress theme, such as Twenty Twenty-One to see if the issue persists.
    • If yes, go to the next step.
    • If no, your theme is causing the issue. You can: a) change your theme; b) contact the author of the theme and ask them to fix it.
  2. Temporarily deactivate all plugins to see if the issue persists.
    • If yes, go to the next step.
    • If no, there could be issues with your site’s setup, either caused while migrating your site to Pressable or through third-party customizations. In this case please contact our support team.
  3. Confirm the source of the conflict. This can be done by starting with all plugins disabled, then slowly reactivating plugins, one at a time.
    • As you reactivate plugins, try replicating the problem. If the conflict only happens after a certain process, recreate and follow those identical steps. For example, the error may only happen when you edit a specific page, buy a specific product on your site, or submit out a form on your site.
    • Keep in mind that you may need to clear your site and browser cache in between tests for accurate results. If you aren’t sure how to clear your site’s cache, please see our help article on Purging Cache in WordPress and CDN in Pressable.
    • Once you think you may have identified the source of the conflict, check if the conflict happens with only that plugin active. If it does, the plugin is causing a conflict with WordPress itself and you’ll want to contact the developer of the plugin to have them fix the issue.
    • If that plugin works correctly when only it’s active, you can slow reactivate your other plugins until the conflict returns. When you find which other plugin is involved in the conflict, you’ll want to contact the developer of both plugins. They will be able to look at their own plugins to see if the issue is something they are doing incorrectly, or if they don’t intend to make their plugins compatible with one another.

As we offer quick and easy-to-set-up staging environments, you likely won’t need these tools. However, they can be helpful in certain situations.

  • Health Check is useful for debugging and requires an official default WordPress theme such as Twenty Nineteen . With a few clicks, it deactivates all plugins and changes the theme while you’re logged in to that session and normal visitors to your site are unaffected.
  • Meks Quick Plugin Disabler remembers what plugins you had active when you’re done testing.

Should nothing change/resolve with issues and/or errors you’re experiencing after testing for conflicts, it could mean there is something else causing a problem. In those cases please get in touch with our Customer Support team and provide as many specific details (including steps to replicate the problem) as you can.