Takunda Muzondo

Web Designer

Graphic Designer

UI Designer

Problem Solver

Blog Post

WordPress Tunnel Vision Lesson

Feb 28, 2024 Wordpress , Freelance
WordPress Tunnel Vision Lesson


I was tasked with updating a client’s website originally built and last updated in 2018. This included updating WordPress, PHP, themes (Enfold and all default WordPress themes from Twenty Seventeen to present), and plugins.

The Problem:

One of the client’s goals involved integrating the Envato platform for stock imagery and plugins. However, while testing this integration on a cloned version of the website (to minimize disruption to the live site), the Envato plugin consistently crashed.

The Tunnel Vision Trap:

Determined to resolve the Envato plugin issue, I became consumed with finding a solution. This led me down a path of focusing solely on updating everything to the latest versions, hoping it would magically fix the compatibility problem. This approach, while seemingly logical at first, turned out to be a classic case of tunnel vision.

A Shift in Strategy:

While discussing the issue with a friend, a simple question sparked a crucial realization: was I neglecting alternative approaches in my pursuit of the seemingly “best” solution? Recognizing the potential dangers of tunnel vision, I decided to take a step back and re-evaluate my strategy.

Moving Forward Strategically:

I adopted a more methodical approach, prioritizing the following:

  • Compatibility testing: Individually testing theme and plugin updates on the cloned site to identify potential conflicts before applying them to the live site.
  • Gradual updates: Implementing updates in a measured manner, starting with PHP and WordPress core, followed by theme and plugin updates. This allowed for easier troubleshooting if issues arose.
  • Thorough testing: Testing every step of the update process meticulously to ensure website stability remained intact.

Lessons Learned:

Although the initial focus on updating everything to the newest versions seemed sensible, it ultimately led to tunnel vision and delayed progress. Stepping back, re-evaluating strategies, and prioritizing a more controlled approach proved critical in successfully updating the client’s website.

Key Takeaways:

  • Incremental updates: Gradual updates minimize the risk of major disruptions and allow for easier troubleshooting.
  • Test relentlessly: Comprehensive testing after each update step is essential to ensure website stability.
  • Beware of tunnel vision: Recognize the potential for getting fixated on one solution. Take a step back and consider alternative approaches.
  • Seek external perspectives: Discussing challenges with colleagues or friends can provide valuable insights and help break free from tunnel vision.