I want to display an error message to a user when a php POST form fails. The form lets a user create a new team on my site. If the team name is not unique, the query fails. I want to display a generic error message when this happens.

Here is my form:

        <form method="post" id="create_team" action="">
            <p class="form">
                <label for="team_name"><?php _e('Team Name:', 'profile'); ?></label>
                <input class="text-input" name="team_name" type="text" id="team_name" value="<?php the_author_meta( 'team_name', $current_user->ID ); ?>" />

            <p class="form">
                <select name="team_type" id="team_type" class="styled-select">
                    <option value="" selected disabled >Team Type</option>
                    <option value="School">School</option>
                    <option value="Neighborhood">Neighborhood</option>
                    <option value="Organization">Organization</option>
            <p class="form-submit" id="create-team-submit">
                <input name="create_team" type="submit" id="create_team" class="submit button" value= "submit" />

Here is the handler in functions.php:

function mytheme_insert_new_team() {

      $name  = $_POST['team_name'];
      $type  = $_POST['team_type'];
      global $wpdb;
      $table_name = "wp_teams";

      $wpdb->insert($table_name, array(
                                'team_name' => $name,
                                'team_type' => $type
                if($wpdb->last_error !== ''){

And here is my function to show the error, also in functions.php:

function mytheme_print_error(){
        //append the error message after the form
        echo "<script>

                        var error = document.createElement('div');
                        error.class = 'error';
                        error.value = 'There was an error. Please try again';
                        var element = document.getElementById('create-team-submit');


I get the following error:

Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property 'appendChild' of null

I have double checked for typos but I can't seem to fix it. Any advice?

  • That is a JavaScript error, which happened most likely because the submit button wrapper (which has create-team-submit as its id) was not found on the page when the appendChild() method is called. Second issue I see, is that you should use error.innerHTML and not error.value since you're creating a div element and not a form field (e.g. <input>) that has a value.
    – Sally CJ
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 3:32
  • 1
    @SallyCJ Thank you. I changed .value to .innerHTML.
    – ellen
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 4:04
  • I am not sure what to do about the element not being found on the page - it should exist when the method is called because it's called after the form loads, right?
    – ellen
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 4:05
  • Yes.. but is the mytheme_insert_new_team() called after the form is displayed on the page, or is it before the content of the page loads? I'm asking because I could see that upon successful submission, the user is redirected (to the same page?).
    – Sally CJ
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 4:33
  • If after the form is submitted, and there was an error, and the form hasn't been displayed yet, and you called the mytheme_print_error(), then that would result in the JS error there.
    – Sally CJ
    Commented Sep 26, 2018 at 4:43


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