When Your Theme or Plugin “Dies”

There are many reasons that your WordPress theme or plugin might cease to be actively developed, maintained, or supported. In my case, the developer of the theme I used for this website (Atelier) apparently passed away a while ago.

How Do You Know Your Theme or Plugin is no Longer Supported?

Often your only signal that a particular theme or plugin is no longer supported is either:

  • updates are no longer available
  • your theme or plugin simply quits working properly

In my case, it was the latter situation and a little investigation into the Atelier theme support area on ThemeForest the revealed the above post explaining the situation.

What Next?

That’s the $64 million dollar question, right?

Hopefully, you can find a new theme or plugin that closely replicates either the functionality or look/feel of your no longer functional plugin or theme. Fortunately, with the huge user and developer communities of WordPress, that is often quite possible.

Once you have found a replacement theme or plugin, the hard work begins. Now you need to rework your website to be compatible with the replacement theme or plugin. This is often tougher than it might seem at first glance.

For themes, often the layout of posts/pages is not quite the same and you can speed inordinate amounts of time trying to replicate the exact look/feel of your prior website. If you have the technical knowledge, this can be done; however, in most cases its simply more expedient to settle for “good enough” or to take the situation as an opportunity to make a break (either major or minor) from the look/feel of your prior website.

If your theme included a “page builder” of some kind (examples include Divi, Elementor, WPBakery, etc) and the replacement theme doesn’t support the same page builder, you’re going to have to do some work to convert all your current pages/posts/etc. from the old page builder format to the new page builder format. This is one reason to stick to the WordPress “classic” or “block” editors as all themes support those editors and you avoid this issue entirely. That said, some of the 3rd party page builders do have significant advantages over the built-in WordPress editors. Just be aware of what you are potentially setting yourself up for when you use a 3rd party page builder…

Abandoned plugins can have a similar issue if they implement, say, a shortcode, custom Gutenberg block, etc.

What If I Just Don’t Update Anything?

Often, an abandoned plugin or theme quits working due to a WordPress core or plugin update that includes a change in functionality that the abandoned plugin or theme hasn’t been modified to accommodate. A short-term work-around can be to just freeze your site at working versions of WordPress core, all your plugins, along with your theme. This will get you by for a short period of time.

But reality is just around the corner and you will inevitably need to update something to patch a security vulnerability, maintain compatibility with external resources (like the PHP software that WordPress runs on), etc. This is not a long-term solution.

At the end of the day, you’re going to have to “bite the bullet” and replace the abandoned theme or plugin. If you need assistance with that, Cardinal Acres Web Development is ready to help. Just reach out to us via the Contact page.