Almost since I started using WordPress I found and installed what I think is a very handy plugin, which I now use on all my sites, called Display Widgets. What this plugin does is provide you with very simple drop downs and check boxes for you to select what page(s) you would like to display or not display your widgets on. This is a great plugin indeed and it has worked so well for me. (More on this plugin here.)
Recently though I was finding that I had lost the plugin functionality for any new widgets I added to my first bottom widget area. The selections displayed, I could check and uncheck as much as I liked, however the new widgets did not behave like they were supposed to, or like the ones I had already set up a while ago. This was only happening in the bottom widget areas, and the plugin was still working fine for all the other widget areas.
At first I thought it may have been my theme, since I had recently did some updates to it, so I reinstalled an earlier version. That didn’t fix the problem.
Then I activated the twenty-ten theme that came with WordPress. Still no change. The twenty-eleven theme didn’t correct the problem either. So what could it be.
Next, I imported a backup of my live WordPress site in to my local testing site, on which I also was running the Display Widgets plugin. I duplicated all the widgets I had on my live site into my testing site and Viola! The plugin was behaving exactly as it was supposed to, in every single widget area.
Ok so what was different between the 2 installations I asked myself next.
Theme was exactly the same. Data was exactly the same because it came from my live site. I had just finished copying and pasting all the widget data so it was the same and they were in the same place as my live site. So again I was asking myself what could be the problem.
At which point I started comparing the list of plugins installed on my live site and in my testing environment. There were quite a few installed on my live site that weren’t installed on my testing site. I figured then there must be a conflict between the Display Widgets plugin and another.
I tried first installing all the plugins to my test environment and activating them one by one, but I couldn’t get the Display Widgets functionality to fail at all. So I moved on to my live environment.
I went through my entire list of plugins and deactivated all of the ones I knew for sure I had fairly recently installed. (I also took a few minutes to do some house cleaning and get rid of the ones I am not using.) After every 2 or 3 I did a refresh of my site to make sure I hadn’t really broken something. At the end it still looked pretty normal, with just a few things out of place because its plugin was deactivated, but all my widgets were displaying exactly where and how I wanted them. Only on the pages I wanted them to be. I had just proven to myself that there was a conflict somewhere.
Back to the plugins page. Now the tedious task of activating each one separately, refreshing my site after each reactivation to make sure all was well. This one works, that one works. I was going down the list pretty quickly and nothing had broken yet. Then suddenly I activated another, refreshed, and my widgets were no longer where they were supposed to be. Eureka!!
I immediately deactivated that one again, refreshed, and my widgets were all fine. Activate, refresh, check, widgets gone. Ok you little devil, now I know you don’t play nice with Display Widgets. And reading about you again I really don’t need you. You don’t enhance my site like Display Widgets does so good bye to you!
Just in case though I did finish going through the list of my plugins to make sure there wasn’t another enemy in the bunch. No, all the rest seemed to like Display Widgets. Which was good because I found the other plugins quite useful too!
Morale of the story… if suddenly your WordPress site loses functionality it had before, it may not be your theme or recent updates of WordPress. It just may be that new plugin you recently installed. They don’t all play nice together I have learned.
Oh and the plugin that was causing me all that grief was called Popularity Contest. It added no real value or extra functionality to my site at all. I just thought it was cool to see some numbers behind the reads I get of my blog.