Making content changes in WordPress for the non-coder

The premise here is simple. I’m going to outline a few steps for making changes to your WordPress pages in the Text view. Depending on what you’re working with, making edits in Visual view can sometimes be more frustrating so I tend to stick with Text view and show my clients accordingly.

This is aimed at WP users who are not coders, people who already feel a bit uneasy about using the Text view. In my experience with my clients, they prefer these steps to using the built-in WP revision comparison page. So here is how you can feel more confident about not breaking your page if you are going to make some changes.

1) You may not have noticed this before, but your history of page revisions is available in your dashboard. Look below the content edit module (that’s where you have your page content), you should see a list of revisions with the most recent at the top. It lists the author, date and time revisions were made. Before you make any changes to your content, make a note of the most recent properly functioning revision. If you’re page is functioning properly, the one at the top will be the one you want to remember – but don’t rely on your memory. Write it down, take a screenshot, record it somehow.

Revisions module

Revisions module

If you don’t see the revisions module, you probably have to select it in your screen options. Click on the screen options menu in the upper right-hand side of the page. A section revealing the many modules you can display will appear. Click on the Revisions box. That’s it. The revision history should now appear at the bottom.

If you still don’t see it, that is likely being caused by the theme you are using. Unfortunately, that is beyond the scope of this post. You may need to contact the theme creators, see if they offer support, search online if anyone else using the theme has solved the issue, or change themes.

2) Next thing to do is copy all the code in your content edit module. Click your cursor anywhere in the text view, click “command” button and “A” button at the same time to select all the code. Click “command” button and “C” button at the same time to copy all the code.

Copy the code before editing

Copy the code before editing

3) Now paste that beautiful functioning code in a safe place. If you have a Mac, try Notepad. There are also plenty of free, online options if you prefer. For this example, I’m using Shrib I wouldn’t recommend Word or other word processing apps since unintentional reformatting can cause problems with the code. The idea here is simply to have an easily accessible copy of the functioning code in case the changes you make lead to accidentally breaking your page.

Paste the code in a safe place

Paste the code in a safe place

4) Ok, now you are ready for content changes. You have a copy of your functioning code and you’ve made a note of the revision that you can fall back to if something goes awry. Edit your content and test to see that it’s functioning and looks as expected. Publish and check again. If everything is working properly, great! You don’t need to do anything else.

(FYI, You’ll notice that the Revisions module has a new entry at the top. That’s because you just published the changes you made).

5) If the edits caused a problem, you can compare the copy of the functioning code (which you have safely waiting in another place) with what you just changed in the content edit module. I have my copy open in another browser window so I can easily compare one to the other. Perhaps you accidentally deleted or added something to the code that caused it to break? Comparing the two will help you find that error and make the correction. Syntax is key, so any extra or missing slashes, brackets or many other symbols can cause a problem.

Comparing code

Comparing code

6) Hopefully, you catch any problems before you publish and are able to review exactly what you are trying to accomplish or seek outside help. If you discover a problem after you publish then you definitely want to review your code and possibly seek outside help. While that is happening, however, you don’t want your page to sit there broken for all the world to see.

This is where you revert back to the previous functioning version of your site. Go to the Revisions module and click on the version you noted earlier. This will take you to a new page where you simply click on the blue Restore This Revision button on the top right of the page. All the edits you just made will be removed.