Working and making updates on a reside WordPress web site could be harmful. And it’s not a matter of whether or not you’re a talented sufficient coder to do it. That’s the place staging environments can assist – find out how on this article.
There are any variety of issues that might go improper if you problem a brand new replace to a plugin, or try and code a brand new function in by hand.
Something you try this impacts the code of a web site presents a possibility for one thing to go improper on the frontend. And that’s not one thing your purchasers or their guests shall be too understanding of.
This is the reason we use staging environments. If you happen to’re within the enterprise of growing WordPress websites, then staging environments should be a part of your course of.
On this article we’ll take a look at the advantages of utilizing staging environments, when you must use them, and how one can simply get began with them – inside and out of doors of WordPress.
Proceed studying to study extra, or soar forward utilizing these hyperlinks:
Let’s kicks issues off with…
Table of Contents
The Pluses of Using a Staging Setting for Your WordPress Web site
A staging setting is often hosted on a non-public subdomain of your WordPress web site for the needs of constructing and testing.
Why do it this manner? There are lots of causes.
A clean canvas from which you construct a brand new web site or create new pages you intend so as to add to an current web site. This manner, your purchasers, managers, or anybody else who appears like weighing in before it’s appropriate to do so are prohibited from seeing your work until you’re ready to share.
Test new WordPress, plugin, or theme updates on a mirror image of a live website. Updates are first handled on the staging site. Upon confirming that no issues are present, you can move forward with them on the live site.
Implement code or design updates on a mirror image of a live website. This is especially helpful if you’re attempting to code a new feature on your own and are nervous about the repercussions of something breaking as a result.
Clone a live website to save time developing a similarly structured WordPress site from scratch.
Stage a website pre-launch in order to conduct QA and testing. Team members, clients, and other project stakeholders are then given a link to the frontend of the staged site for review.
Test new coding techniques. You can use a copy of a website that already exists or use a sample website to test out theories or to hone your implementation process before adding it to your workflow. You can also use this as a training platform for new developers on your team.
Build basic prototypes for the purposes of demonstrating a suggested design or feature to the client. This way, you don’t have to try to explain the idea you have for a landing page or a new checkout process or whatever it is you’ve thought of. Instead, you mock it up here and give them a way to experience it first-hand and avoid any potential miscommunications.
There are also a whole lot of other benefits in using staging environments for these purposes:
- They lend to safer coding practices, in general.
- They give you privacy to build and update websites without a bunch of prying eyes checking in on you.
- If something wonky gets introduced into the code, it won’t take down the live website or prevent complete access from the WordPress admin, which would reflect poorly on you as well as your client (if visitors were to notice).
- They save time you would otherwise spend repairing the white screen of death or troubleshooting other issues caused by cowboy coding on the live installation.
- They protect a live website’s search ranking as you prevent bots from encountering an error-ridden website, an offline website, or one that’s in transition and sending mixed signals.
Bottom line: staging sites are meant to maintain the integrity of the live sites displayed to visitors, allowing you to safely and privately work behind the scenes.
How to Set up a Staging Environment for Your WordPress Site
A staging environment setup largely depends on what its purpose will be.
If you intend on using it as a training or experimentation platform, you have freedom to do whatever you want.
If you intend on using it for a different, specific purpose, such as implementing WordPress updates, revising design and code, or adding new pages, then what sits in staging needs to be identical to the website.
This means having the same:
- WordPress version
- PHP version
- Theme version
- Plugin versions
- Any configurations that are essential to how the site works on the live server
To set up a mirror image of your WordPress site in the staging environment, you can use one of three means: the manual method, through a managed WordPress host, or by using a WordPress plugin.
We’re gonna take a look at all of these, starting with…
Like it sounds, the manual method is very hands-on, and consists of the following steps:
- Save a backup of your WordPress site.
- Create a subdomain from your control panel where this staging site will sit.
(This will automatically create a subfolder on your WordPress site.)
- Install a fresh copy of WordPress on it.
- Copy files from your current site into the new WordPress installation.
- Copy your database from the current site over to the new installation.
Refer to this post for full details, instructions, and screenshots on how to set up a staging environment manually.
#2 Through Managed WordPress Hosting
While the manual method has you working within the control panel to set up a staging environment, Managed WordPress Hosting handles the job for you.
This is without doubt, the speediest and most stress-free method of the three. It cuts out pretty much all of the work on your part.
It also means you’ll incur the cost of procuring the services any host provides. But chances are good if you run a site or agency, you already know the value of managed hosting. Of course perspective is unique, and it’s always up to an individual to decide.
Most managed WordPress hosting plans with the providers above come with one-click or pre-made staging areas.
Creating a password-protected staging site on your server generally requires little more than logging into your hosting account and proceeding to the appropriate page.
Pushing updates from a staging site to the live server is beyond easy with this option. Just one click and your staging environment will go live.
Here’s an example of how the process works with WPMU DEV Hosting.
Creating a Staging Site Through WPMU DEV’s Hosting
This process could not be simpler or quicker.
1. Starting in The Hub―WPMU DEV’s unified command center―click on the Sitename for which you’d like to create staging.
2. Click on the Hosting header, then the Staging header.
3. Click the blue Start button from the Setup your staging environment screen.
You’ll see the bouncing ellipses while it does its magic, generally in under a minute. Then you’ll get a popup that the sync to staging is complete, taking you to the Staging options page.
Stage creation in four clicks and one minute; no glitches or gaffes.
Done, fini, finalizado, finito, samapt.
Fewer clicks than words in that last sentence, and less time than it took to google the other language equivalents.
Not only did we accomplish an otherwise burdensome task quickly and easily, everything we might want to do for or with our staging site is accessible directly from this Hub page.
From basics to biggies, WPMU DEV’s Staging options page is fully loaded.
Move Staging to Production? Check. Reset or Delete the current Staging environment? Mmmhmm.
Manage Database–Manage Files–Reset WP? Yes–sir–ree. All of these settings and more are gathered together here in Staging options.
I wasn’t kidding when I sang the praises of managing staging environments in this way. Brewing a single cup of coffee in the morning takes more time and effort than this.
If you are more of a DIY-er, or don’t have managed hosting because you’re saving your benjamins, continue on for the WordPress plugin method.
For those of you who would like an option that requires less work on the server, without the expense of managed WordPress hosting―you can use a WordPress plugin.
We’re highlighting two options here, and really, the difference boils down to your comfort level in setting up WordPress Multisite, and budgetary considerations.
Without Multisite: All-in-One WP Migration Plugin
All-in-One WordPress Migration plugin
All-in-One WP Migration is a plugin with a number of makes use of. It really works as a backup plugin, a migration plugin, and as a staging plugin.
AIO WP Migration comes with newbie-friendly capabilities that can help you migrate your WordPress web site with little to no technical data or expertise.
Let’s undergo the way to use this for staging.
1. Set up and activate All-in-One WP Migration on the WordPress web site you wish to export.
2. Navigate to the plugins’ menu on the sidebar, and click on Export.
Non-obligatory: From the Superior choices dropdown arrow, you may choose any variables you don’t need exported/changed. (This can assist cut back file measurement.)
3. From the EXPORT TO dropdown, choose File.
Give it time to compile the information (how lengthy relies on the scale of the location recordsdata you might be exporting).
There are lots of export location choices; File is the one one obtainable within the free model.
4. As soon as compiled, you’ll get a size-fluctuating inexperienced field with the filename and file measurement. Click on on that to reserve it to your pc, then click on the purple CLOSE button.
The exporting course of isn’t sophisticated.
6. Subsequent, log into the WordPress web site the place you need the set up of your staging setting to be, and set up the identical plugin.
7. From the plugins’ menu on the sidebar, click on Import.
Use the Import From dropdown choices, or just drag & drop your file.
Be aware that if the file you wish to import is bigger than the utmost allowable quantity, AIO WP Migration presents some choices on rising this.
Principally, these are: buy the paid model of their plugin; contact your internet hosting supplier for a restrict enhance; or do some coding your self (examples of which they supply―see above hyperlink).
8. Add the file you simply saved to your machine, then click on the inexperienced PROCEED button on the warning popup.
PROCEED provided that you’ve created your backup.
Be aware: The file you downloaded must be wherever your default obtain folder is, with a .wpress extension. Nevertheless, you too can simply seize it from the plugins Backups part, which is accessible by way of their dashboard facet menu, beneath Export and Import.
Backups supplies a unified place for exported recordsdata, and choices for managing them.
After the transient course of runs, you’ll get a profitable import message, confirming the method is full. You now have a mirror picture of your reside web site sitting in your staging subdomain.
To push your staging setting (and any modifications made there) reside, merely repeat the method in reverse.
Subsequent, we’ll take a look at doing this with multisite.
With Multisite: Shipper Plugin
Ahoy there, mateys! Shipper will steer your migration in the proper route.
Among the finest perks of making a staging setting this manner is that you just get to maintain your reside WordPress web site and its personal and non-indexable staging subdomain inside one WordPress set up.
So, you don’t have to maneuver forwards and backwards between your management panel and varied WordPress cases to handle each.
Shipper is a robust, one-stop-shop migration device. It handles multisites, subsites, and single web site migrations.
You are able to do bundle or API migration, exclude sure recordsdata and folders, discover and exchange hyperlinks―all with a centralized dashboard offering clear explanations and estimated instances previous to doing any migrating.
We have already got a improbable, detailed tutorial on the weblog for migrating a multisite to a single web site utilizing Shipper Professional, so I’ll refer you to that as an alternative of repeating all of it right here. (Shipper is professional solely presently, however you are able to do a free trial if you wish to give it a go, risk-free.)
As all the time, it’s clever to create a web site backup previous to migrating. I can suggest two choices for this job: Snapshot (additionally coated by the identical money-back assure & free trial as Shipper Professional), and Updraft Plus (which is available in each free & premium paid variations).
If you happen to run into any points utilizing Shipper, you may reference its full documentation. Or in the event you’re a WPMU DEV member, avail your self of our extremely rated, knowledgeable tech assist, standing by 24/7/365 to assist with ALL issues WordPress.
To maneuver the staging setting to the reside server, you’ll merely have to reverse the method. There shall be no have to create new websites or subdomains. Merely clone the subdomain to the reside web site upon getting finalized every thing and verified that content material is nice to go.
When you’ve accomplished the migration, you may go forward and get to work in your staging setting. All settings, recordsdata, and databases will mirror what exists on the reside web site.
Take into consideration on a regular basis you’re going to save lots of through the use of staging environments in your WordPress improvement workflow going ahead. Heavens to Murgatroyd!
Whether or not it’s stopping unwarranted suggestions from purchasers, or implementing updates/coding new options in a separate testing house, staging environments protect the integrity of your reside WordPress web site till you’re 100% certain revisions could be mirrored on the frontend.
It’s undoubtedly the best way to go!
Editor’s Be aware: This put up has been up to date for accuracy and relevancy.
[Originally Published: June 2018 / Revised: January 2022]