How To Use A Staging Environment For Testing And Developing WordPress Websites

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Imagine working hard on your WordPress website for hours, only to realize that the new update you just installed has broken your site. All your hard work goes down the drain, and your website no longer functions as it should. Sounds like a nightmare, right? This is where a staging environment comes into play.

A staging environment is a separate platform where you can safely test and develop your website without worrying about breaking the live site. This article will show you how to create and use a staging environment for testing and developing WordPress websites.

Before we dive into the setup process, let’s take a closer look at what a staging environment is and why you should use one.

WordPress Staging Site: What’s That?

A WordPress staging site is a separate platform or environment where you can safely test and develop changes to your website without affecting the live site. Essentially, it’s a complete copy of your live website that allows you to experiment with new plugins, themes, or design changes without breaking the live site.

Staging sites provide an isolated environment where you can troubleshoot and fix issues without negatively impacting your website’s user experience. It’s a critical tool for website developers, designers, and content creators who want to ensure their website functions correctly before making any changes live.

A staging site is usually hidden from the public and only accessible to the website owner and team members. Once you’re satisfied with the changes you’ve made on the staging site, you can push them to the live site, ensuring a seamless and efficient development process.

The Benefits of Using a Staging Site

Staging sites offer a variety of benefits that make them an essential tool for any WordPress website owner. Here are just a few of the advantages:

Debugging and Troubleshooting

A staging site is an excellent tool for debugging and troubleshooting any issues with your website. You can test any new features or changes without involving your live site. If there are any issues, you can identify them and fix them before going live. This can save you a lot of time and effort, as well as prevent any negative impact on your site’s performance or user experience.

Practicing and Testing

It is also a great way to practice and test new features or changes. You can experiment with different layouts, designs, and functionality without worrying about the consequences. Since it lets you see how your website will look and behave with the changes, you can make informed decisions about what to implement on your live site.

Collaboration and Feedback

It can also facilitate collaboration and feedback among your team members or stakeholders. You can share the staging site with others so that they can review and test any changes or updates. This can help you get valuable feedback and insights, which can improve the quality and effectiveness of your website.

Security and Stability

A staging site can also help you maintain the security and stability of your website. You can test any updates or changes for compatibility with existing plugins, themes, and configurations. This can help you avoid any conflicts or issues affecting your site’s performance or data security.

Different Ways to Setup WordPress Staging Site

There are different methods to set up a staging site for your WordPress website. Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.

Setup a WordPress Staging Site With Your Web Host

Many web hosting providers offer staging tools that allow you to create a staging site with a few clicks. Some popular hosts that provide staging tools include SiteGround, WP Engine, Hostinger and Bluehost. If your web host offers this feature, you are in luck since this is the easiest and most convenient way to set up a staging site.

The process of the setup varies from one host to another, but generally, it involves the following steps:

  • Log in to your web host account and navigate to the staging site feature. For some hosts like Bluehost, and WP Engine, you will need to log in to your site’s admin dashboard and click on the Hosting name from the left panel, and then you will see the Staging option.
  • Once you are in the staging section, click ‘create staging’ or the relevant button.  This will clone your live site and create a  staging environment for you.
  • Once the clone is ready, you will be given a link or button to access the staging site. You can make changes on the staging site and check if everything works properly after each update.
  • Once you are satisfied with the changes, you can push them to the live site by pressing the ‘Deploy All Changes’ or “Deploy All” button available in the staging section.

Note that the process may vary slightly depending on your web host. Here are the full guides to setting up a staging site on popular web hosts.

  1. Bluehost
  2. Hostinger
  3. SiteGround
  4. WPEngine

Utilize a Staging Plugin

If your web host doesn’t provide staging tools, you can use a staging plugin like WP Stagecoach, WP Staging, BlogVoult etc. These plugins create a copy of your live website and allow you to make changes without affecting your live site.

To use a staging plugin, you will need to install it on your WordPress website. Once installed and activated, you can create a clone of your live site with just a few clicks. Each plugin has its own process for creating a staging site, so you will need to follow their instructions to set it up.

Here are  the official tutorials for setting up staging sites with popular staging plugins:

How to Create a Staging Site for WordPress Manually

If you prefer to set up a staging site manually, you can create a subdomain or subdirectory on your hosting account and install WordPress on it. This method requires technical knowledge and can be time-consuming, but it offers complete control over your staging environment.

To manually create a staging site, follow these steps:

  • Log in to your hosting account and create a subdomain or subdirectory for your staging site.
  • Install WordPress on your subdomain or subdirectory.
  • Use a migration plugin like Duplicator or All-in-One WP Migration to copy your live website to your staging site.
  • Once your staging site is set up, you can start testing changes and updates.

Here is a detailed guide on how to manually create a WordPress staging site:

Conclusion

Setting up a WordPress staging site can save you a lot of time and effort in managing your website. Hopefully, this article has helped you understand how to set up a staging site on different hosting platforms. Please let us know in the comments below if you have any questions.

Thank you for reading!

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