Last updated - February 24, 2020
If you are managing a WooCommerce store, you know the importance of plugins. Plugins help you incorporate additional features and capabilities to your store. In most scenarios, plugins are a boon to WooCommerce store owners, as they are pretty simple to set up and manage. However, there are times when plugins can create quite a headache for site owners. That is when they conflict with other plugins or your theme. This can get even worse if your technical knowledge is minimal. So, in this article, we will discuss some of the basic strategies you can adopt to identify and prevent plugin conflicts on your WooCommerce store.
How to identify plugin conflicts on your WooCommerce store?
Here is a set of things you can do to avoid plugin conflicts on your WooCommerce store.
Test on a staging site
Experts are unanimous on this tip. You should not activate a plugin on your live site. Even if you have previously used a plugin, the next time you need it, test it on your staging site. This will help you identify any plugin conflicts before it creates problems to the smooth functioning of your site.
How to get a staging site?
Most hosting service providers offer a staging site, which is actually an identical copy of your live site. You can test a new plugin on this site before activating it on your production site.
If you are not able to get a staging site from your hosting service provider, you can try this plugin. It helps you get a clone of your website by installing it into a sub folder of your main WordPress installation. This also includes a copy of your database. In fact, this is a simpler solution if you have limited technical knowledge to handle the site management aspects of your WordPress site.
Another option you can try is Jetpack Rewind.
When you are testing a new plugin, you need to be really thorough with it. That is because a lot of plugin conflicts might be hidden while you are doing a quick, cursory check. The solution for this is to thoroughly check all the primary functionalities of your site. Aspects like checkout and payment options need to be checked promptly to avoid unnoticed issues that can potentially affect your sales.
Identifying plugin conflicts
Even if you have followed some of the fundamental aspects of testing for plugin conflicts, you might still encounter some. When you have a lot of plugins installed on your site, it might be a bit tough to spot the exact issue. Here are some guidelines you can follow in case of an issue with your site.
Determine which plugin is causing conflict
This is one of the important steps that you have to take to resolve a plugin conflict. A common strategy for this is to deactivate all plugins and then reactivate them one by one. Here are the steps you can follow:
- Switch to a default theme of WordPress like Twenty Seventeen. See if you are still facing the issue. If issue is resolved, it means your theme was causing the issue. If the issue persists, the issue is not with the theme.
- Deactivate all your plugins temporarily except WooCommerce. Check for the issue you previously noticed by going to the same page, or by recreating the process with the issue. If the issue has disappeared, that means the conflict was caused by one of the deactivated plugins.
- Reactivate the plugins one by one. After activating each, you need to check for the issue exactly the way you did on step 2. When you notice the issue right after activating a plugin, you will be able to determine that it was causing the conflict.
- Check the plugin documentation to understand conflict-related information, or contact the plugin support team.
- In case, the issue persists after step 3, it might be caused by some pre-installed plugins that you could not deactivate. In this scenario, you might need to contact the hosting service to deactivate such pre-installed plugins.
- If the problem persists even after step 5, the problem can be with your WooCommerce installation as well. In that case, you can contact WooCommerce support for help.
WordPress plugins to help you identify plugin conflicts
There are a few useful plugins that can help you in identifying conflicts. Here is a look:
This plugin helps by performing a set of tests to understand issues with your WordPress installation. It will check your PHP and SQL versions, ensure all WordPress services are accessible to you, and even suggest some extensions to improve site performance. From the debug section of the plugin, you can collect valuable information that you can easily share with plugin or theme developers for easy resolution.
You can identify plugin conflicts when you log in as site administrator. It presents a basic WordPress install with a default theme and no plugins.
This plugin helps with altering the order with which plugins are loaded on your site. You can also disable specific plugins by WordPress post type or managed url. It can also helo create plugin grouping on your site backend. If you are a beginner to WordPress and does not have basic coding knowledge, it is not advisable to change the order of loading for plugins. It is advisable to get help from an expert in that case to use this plugin.
You can also use Meks Quick Plugin Disabler to get some assistance in identifying plugin conflicts. Primarily, it helps you identify if there is a currently active plugin on your site that is causing an issue. With this plugin, you can temporarily deactivate all the active plugins in a single click. After the check, you can simply activate them back as well.
How to prevent plugin conflicts?
Though you might encounter a few conflicts irrespective of the care you take, you can still follow some guidelines to ensure there aren’t many problems. Here is a quick look at some of the preventive measures you can try to avoid plugin conflicts.
Avoid installing plugins on the production site
Make it a rule to not activate a plugin first on your production site. As discussed above, always use a staging site or a clone of the site to test new plugins.
There might be certain hidden conflicts that you might not notice at first. To avoid missing out on plugin conflicts, always make sure to test a plugin thoroughly before installing it on your production site.
Use plugins only when they are absolutely necessary
One of the important things you need to follow in the WordPress ecosystem is to apply some restraint while installing plugins. Due to the large availability of free plugins, it might be really tempting to try out several plugins. However, for a busy WooCommerce store this is definitely not the way to go.
Ensure the quality of the plugin
It is important to evaluate the need for a plugin carefully before deciding to use it on your site. Try and see if you can use other options like a code snippet to get the same functionality. If you figure out the plugin is absolutely essential for your store strategy, you can research more about the plugin. Check if the plugin is consistently updated before installing it. Also, check the reputation of the developer in WordPress forums and understand how the support system works.
Another aspect that would help you understand the plugin’s quality would be the availability of documentation. If going for a premium plugin, checkout the reviews by other users. On WordPress plugin repository, you can understand the popularity of a plugin by checking the star rating and the number of active installs.
Do plugin audits regularly
Another important point to note is to do periodic plugin audits. Plugin audits would help you understand how the plugins are performing. It would be a chance to check the availability of updates and the future plans of the plugin. There are several scenarios where developers discontinue plugins after a period of time. It will be of great help if you will find any such instances before it creates trouble on your site. If you notice that the plugin is not getting updates regularly, it might be a good sign to checkout for an alternate option.
Test before updates as well
Most good plugins will get consistent updates. However, before updating a plugin, you should do the same testing steps to be absolutely sure. Also, while updating plugins, it is better to test them one by one to avoid any unexpected outcomes. For plugin updates on the WordPress repository, you can checkout the changelog to understand what changes are expected. That way you will be better prepared with an update.