My sister in-law was recently having trouble with her Mothers club website. It’s not that she has any experience in managing websites, she was just in the wrong place at the wrong time so to speak; having stepped out of the room at a very vital time during committee elections, she is now their webmaster.

Not really knowing where to start to fix the issue, she decided to give me a call to see if I could help her out. Being an owner of several small businesses over the years I’ve had my fair share of experience with websites, web developers and hosting companies. I certainly can’t claim to be an expert in HTML, CSS or PHP but sometimes a little knowledge can go a long way and other times it can get you into big trouble…

So being the kind hearted sort of guy I am, I offered to take a look at the problem for her. After immediately logging in, the problem was obvious, the WordPress dashboard was all over the place and not displaying properly.
As you do, I jumped straight onto Google and started poking around for the answer. After several forum threads later I found the solution; update the WordPress version. My sister in-laws website was version 3.9 where the latest version was now 4.1. How simple was that?

Even though the dashboard was messed up I still managed to find the upgrade button. Only one click away from glory I thought. So away I go and upgrade the WordPress version. As the progress bar rolled around and around I was thinking, YOU GENIUS. However I was a little premature in celebrating my technical prowess. All I had managed to do was make things worse. The dashboard was now more messed up than ever…

“Don’t panic” was my first thought, and my second thought was “it’s time call in the professionals”. So again I hit Google and start looking around for WordPress support. There was no shortage of options but I was specifically looking a for a local Australian based service and one that had a live chat so I could do a little learning along the way.

I managed to come across WP Butler, an Australian based dedicated WordPress support service based in Brisbane. They had a live chat feature built into their website so I gave it a go. Within seconds I had a customer service rep online ready to help me out.

From the very start the whole experience was friendly and professional. I explained that I wanted them to hold my hand through it all so if ever this issue came up again, I’d know how to fix it.
The first step was to update all the old plugins. My guess was that the plugins had never been updated since the launch of the site along with the WordPress version. After updating the plugins the dashboard looked a little better but was still missing its usual formatting.

The second step was to make a note of all the active plugins and then deactivate them. Presto, all is good again with the dashboard but unfortunately most of the features on the site were now missing.

The third step was to activate the plugins one by one until we found which plugin was causing the dashboard to go wild. One by one, I activated the required plugins until BAMM… down goes the dashboard again. Found the culprit. A plugin called “Admin Drop Down Menu” had been installed and was messing with the CSS of the admin page. I deleted the plugin and all was back to normal.

There is also another work around which I found on YouTube which shows you how to fix this issue if ever your admin screen goes completely blank. This method requires access via FTP so make sure you have your cPanel or FTP login details handy.

Good luck.

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