How To Be Your Own Tech Support Person
When you're designing and building your own web site, there are going to be problems. It's just a fact of life.
But usually they're not major computer crashes. It's stuff like: That photo just will not align properly no matter what you try. You're getting a 404 error when you try to go to your newest page. You've placed an ad block in your sidebar but it's not showing up for some reason.
It's always something! You have technical support questions but who are you going to call? (Sorry, Ghostbusters will not help in this instance.)
I've encountered a lot of people who immediately freak out and start spewing panic in all directions. They have not even identified the source of the problem, so they're calling their Internet Service Provider and saying "The header on my web site is all squished, I think the Internet is down." What the …?
When you're having web site problems, stay calm and use common sense. Can you navigate to other sites without a problem? If yes, then it's not the Internet. Good, that much is settled.
If something on your web site is not behaving as you expect it to, try loading your site in another browser. If it works there, then you're probably experiencing one of the many differences in the way various browsers render code.
Did something work a minute ago and now it does not? What did you do in between? It may not seem related, but it probably is. Do not call Dell; it's more likely to be something you did inside the software than your computer itself.
Once you have it narrowed down at least somewhat (is the problem the Internet, your computer, your browser, your site-building software, or your brain?) Then go to the next step.
Very often you can solve the problem on your own in far less time than it would take to contact and get a reply from someone else. Do not be afraid of the Google, people! If you're having a certain problem, then there's a 99.99999% chance that someone else had the same problem and has asked the question already, often in a forum related to the subject. And if someone helped them figure it out, then there's your answer.
It's amazing what you can find on Google. Or Yahoo or Bing, whoever. Just type your question, in full sentence form if you want, into a search engine. I can almost guarantee that you'll get pages and pages full of other people with the same issue. If you do not, try asking it another way. Not everyone will have used the same wording.
If you're getting some sort of error message on your site, type the error message itself into Google. Lots of people have already posted their confusion over that message, and it's highly likely that one or more of the ensuing discussions will help you solve your web site problem.
At the very least, you'll find leads that you can investigate. Sometimes the very first one will do the trick! If the first one does not fix the problem, go back to the results page and try another lead. Many, many times I have been able to figure out the problem this way, and it's extremely satisfying, not to mention way faster than the alternatives.
Plus, you learn a lot. When you're forced to track down the source of a problem and then the solution, you add to the store of knowledge that will come in handy again and again in the future. Pretty soon, you'll be getting calls from friends with their tech support questions! (Better change your phone number …)