First, let’s take a deep breath. For whatever reason, your website is down or isn’t working the way it's supposed to. Before you sound the alarm and declare a national emergency, let’s triage this issue. Your website problem might not be as bad as you think.
Is your website down?
The website you wish to access just might be down right now. To find out, visit Down For Everyone Or Just Me and enter the problematic website URL. If the site tells you that “It’s not just you,” then, well, it's not just you.
This typically means one of two things. One, there could be an Internet outage that everyone’s experiencing. These types of outages are common and tend to make headlines. Remember that time we all almost died when Facebook and Instagram were down for two hours? This is similar, and can be just as painful, but just know that eventually we’ll all make it through just fine.
Additionally, it could also mean there’s a maintenance issue with your content delivery network (CDN). To put it simply, a CDN is a network of servers that are distributed across the globe for faster content delivery, which allows someone in Ohio and someone elsewhere the ability to both see your content, like a logo or image. Again, the only thing you can do in this type of situation is wait it out.
Is it a CMS issue?
When changes are made on a website—a new image, word, etc.,―those changes sometimes won’t be immediately reflected on your screen. You go back in and check to make sure you saved the changes in the CMS, and behold, the changes are there! If you can see the changes in the back end, then why aren’t they showing up on the front end of your website?
If you're having an issue seeing changes to your website in the browser window, try conducting a hard refresh. If you have a PC computer, press both Ctrl and F5 on your keyboard. On a Mac, hold down the Command and Shift key and then press R.
You could also try clearing your cache. A web or browser "cache" is where your program and website assets are stored, and your browser's history may simply be preventing your new website content from showing up on your computer. On Google Chrome, you can clear your cache by going to your browser history, clicking on "clear browsing data," and clearing your browsing history, download history, cookies and other site data, and cached images and files.
Or maybe you have no idea how or why changes have been made to your website. Are you wondering where that image went, or who published this blog? Before you point your finger or go on a hacker witch hunt, check in with your own team first. Chances are, this could be a classic case of internal miscommunication. You’d be surprised at how fast you can get to the bottom of these issues by sending a quick email or message around the office.
Is it a network issue?
Are you receiving some sort of "blocked" message when you try to access your website? There may be an Internet issue, network security setting, or firewall that's preventing you from accessing your own website. Your IT department can unblock a URL in the network’s security settings as well as help with an internal Intranet issue.
Is it a DNS issue?
Your IT department should be able to troubleshoot any DNS issues. A DNS, or domain name server, translates websites domain names to IP addresses. DNS issues occur when the web address is outdated or there’s an issue with the server. Typical fixes for this kind of website problem is by clearing the DNS cache, disable extra connections, and resetting your router.
Is there an SSL/TLS mismatch?
You know how Google is cracking down on security lately? Well, not only do you need to make sure you have an SSL/TSL certificate for your website, you also need to make sure it’s configured properly. SSL/TSL mismatches, also referred to as "handshake errors", will return an error message and means that your browser won’t serve the site. The company that hosts your website can help you in troubleshooting this issue.
Is it a third-party issue?
An API, or application program interface, is the language that lets a third-party product or service, like Google Maps, talk to your website. However, these API integrations sometimes change, causing applications like social media feeds, weather updates, and Google Maps not to show up on your website. While a little heads up when these changes occur would be nice, you shouldn’t hold your breath waiting for one. For this website issue, you’ll likely need a web developer’s help to fix the broken code.