When your website has an issue, whether it is a visual bug (the text and images alignment are off) or it is a functional bug (customer can’t checkout on the product page), you can follow the standard procedures for reporting issues to web developers. Then you just have to sit back and wait for the developers to work their magic until the issue is fixed. Sometimes you wonder why something that seems like such a simple fix takes so long to finish. In this article I will explain the standard procedure to debug an issue so you can understand how the best web developers debug websites.

1. Download the Existing Website From the Hosting Server to the Development Server

The first step that web developers need to do is to download your existing website and set it up on their development server. During the fixing period, your website might not look correct or it might even be completely broken due to the developers’ attempts to fix it (it usually takes more than one try). You don’t want visitors to go to your website and find it unreadable or unusable. Our development team will always strive to keep the downtime of your website as short as possible (sometimes you might not even notice!). Hence, our development team would perform the fixes on your website that are sitting on the development server first before uploading them back to your hosting server.


2. Locate the Issue Within the Code

If your website uses a content management system, the number of files that make up your website can easily be in the hundreds or thousands. The HTML website days where a page consists of only one file are gone. If your website has a lot of plugins installed and/or it is custom built, the file structure of the website will be a lot more complex because of the different plugins and because website developers each have different coding styles. Codes are spread among these hundreds and thousands of files and in order to fix a bug. Our team would need to locate the exact location of the bug in the code first before making any attempts to fix it. The time to locate the bug varies greatly depending on the type of bug. A visual bug usually involves one or two files and there’s no extra logic behind the code inside. However, if it is a functional bug, it usually involves many files where a code from one file is dependent on a code from another file and it takes a lot of time to locate the root of the problem.


3. Performing the Fix

The time to perform a fix also varies greatly depending on the type of bug. A visual bug (margins/alignments issue) usually involves only HTML and CSS and shouldn’t take too long to fix. A functional bug, however, often involves a server side and a client side scripting language in addition to HTML and CSS. In order to fix a functional bug, our web developers would need to understand the logic behind many lines of code across many different files and think of a solution that would fix the issue without breaking or inadvertently disabling any functions.

4. Uploading the Fix

After you have confirmed the issue has been fixed on our development server, our web development team can move the fix back to your website hosting server. This is generally a simple process where we use a FTP client like FileZilla to upload and overwrite the modified files. Sometimes a bug fix involves a database modification. If it is an e-commerce website or a website that updates information constantly, we would need to schedule a time with you where your website will be unavailable to everyone except for our developers so that we can perform a database update without any information loss. The downtime may vary from an hour to several hours depending on the scope of work.


Hopefully you can understand the process and the work involved in order to fix a website issue a little bit better after reading this article. Something that looks like a simple fix may involve multiple steps and attempts to fix. If you have a broken website and are in need of a fix, contact us for a quote!