Yesterday a client of ours rang in panic to alert us that their WordPress website had weird text on the homepage.
Their first question invariably was, ‘Was the website hacked?” – and our less than humorous reply is “No, you BROKE IT!”
After loading the site up, we noticed that one of their WordPress plugins (a WordPress image slider) was outputting text on the pages it was loading on, and was no longer working correctly.
Was the WordPress plugin hacked, or broken and in need of an update?
We logged into the WordPress admin area, and then tried the usual deactivation, clear settings and reloading it, but the same error was appearing.
I then asked the client if they had received any emails from their web hosting company recently and they told me they had, and forwarded the email across.
In the email, it let them know the website hosting was changing the PHP version to 5.6, and to check their websites were still functioning correctly.
So after our “Ah, Ha!” moment, we then logged into the cPanel area and changed the PHP version back to the older 5.5 and the plugin went back to working correctly.
As this was a paid WordPress plugin that was purchased many years ago, the license had expired and as a result, the version they were using didn’t support the new PHP version.
Fun Fact. PHP version 7 is available to use on some website hosting platforms, and we are using it on Kinski & Bourke, but there isn’t the widespread support for it just yet.
So the temporary fix is to push the PHP version back, but the ideal solution would be for them to purchase a new license for the plugin so it can be updated and the rest of the WordPress website isn’t limited by one small part.