If there are issues in your WordPress website or you want to test something new, it is best to set up a WordPress staging website.
A staging website will duplicate your live shop to a staging site, allowing you to test things without worrying about the live environment. You can test your pages’ plugins, themes, features and other functionality before going live. That way, finding any errors and fixing them without messing with the live site is easier.
Want to learn more about the subject? Keep reading the content below and see how this functionality can improve your page architecture!
What is a WordPress staging site (staging environment)?
A WordPress staging site is an offline duplicate of your live environment to which only you have access. If you want to try something new, you can change the staging environment without affecting your live environment. The staging is very useful for general plugin updates, theme changes or installing whole new plugins.
It is worth mentioning that the staging site is not available to its visitors and is not found by search engines. That’s because it serves exclusively for development purposes.
Why set up a staging site?
Before putting your website live, it is important to test everything completely beforehand. In this case, you can do this perfectly by setting up a staging site.
Here you will try out things like your WordPress themes or various plugins to see if they run well on your online shop and if it meets your requirements. Also, you’ll see if the themes or plugins make your site run slower or faster. Should your site run slower, you can easily troubleshoot and solve this.
In short, the main reasons to use a test environment are:
- Makes it possible to make changes to the page without causing damage to the online site;
- Ensures that the user experience will not be degraded while modifications are made to the staging test;
- Allows the real page to work normally while you work in the test environment;
- Offers the possibility to fix any errors related to themes, plugins, access codes and other aspects without affecting the online site;
- You can monitor the impacts of each change without rushing.
And what are the disadvantages of the staging site?
Just like any other solution, the test environment also has its drawbacks. Are they:
- makes the site take longer to update as it requires testing features first;
- some hosting services charge for creating a staging test;
- there are cases where the test environment does not create a replica of the online page.
However, there are ways to get around these obstacles. One is configuring the test environment locally, manually or with plugins.
Set up WordPress staging site
There are three ways to get a staging environment for your WordPress site:
- Manual creation;
- Through your hosting company;
- Using a WordPress plugin to create a test environment.
Let’s discuss these three options in more detail.
1. Manual creation
The manual creation is the most difficult way and is not so functional. A manual approach means a greater chance of errors creeping into your workflow. There is no way to sync location data between installations, and you cannot move selected data, tables or files between installations. You are creating a manual duplication version of your website.
2. Getting a test site through your hosting company
You can first ask your hosting company to create a staging environment for you, and most hosting companies can do this for you. If your hosting company cannot create a staging site for you, you can use a WordPress plugin to create a staging site yourself.
Read more: Recommended WooCommerce hosting Providers.
2. Using a WordPress plugin to create a test environment (WP StageCoach)
If your hosting company can’t set up a WordPress staging site for you, you can use a WordPress plugin to do it yourself. Follow the steps below to create your staging site.
The first step is to make a backup of your website. It’s important to back up your site regularly, especially when you want to make major changes. You can learn more about backing up your website (WordPress) here.
Once you’ve backed up your site, you’re ready to create your staging site.
WP StageCoach plugin
We will use the WP StageCoach plugin as an example to show you how this works.
It is very easy to set up a staging site using WP StageCoach plugin! With a few clicks, you can set up a staging site without overwriting your current database.
- Go to https://wpstagecoach.com/
- Choose 1 of the packages (5-day trial period)
- After registering, log in to your account
- In your account overview, click on Download WP StageCoach
- Upload and install the plugin in WordPress
- In the left navigation bar, click on WP StageCoach > Settings
- Fill in your Username and API Key and click on Submit
- Click on WP StageCoach in your navigation bar
- It has automatically set a staging URL, but you can also customize it to your liking
- Choose whether or not to set a password
- As a final step, click on Ride the StageCoach!
After you click Ride the StageCoach, the plugin undertakes several steps to set up the staging site and is displayed by messages.
Once the staging site is created, you’ll be shown its URL and the /wp-admin credentials to log in. You can use the same credentials as your live site, so separate credentials don’t need to be created! The staging site is a fully-functional WordPress environment, so you can do anything you normally do in your live environment.
Push changes to live site
It is possible to carry forward the changes you have made to your staging site to your live environment. In your WordPress backend, go to WP StageCoach -> Import Changes. Then click on Check for changes to see what has changed. This will take a few minutes to complete. When this is complete, you will be presented with three import options:
- One-click: this is the most simple Import. Do you want a file, database changes or both? Then click on Import.
- Advanced: if you don’t want to import all the changes and only some selected
- Manual: if the One-click and Advanced options fail, you can choose this option. It is a bit more work, but more reliable.
Once the Import is complete, you can view the live site and see if all changes have been made as desired. If so, you can choose to:
- Clean up and delete staging site: choose this option if you are done with your staging site and want to delete it
- Clean up: choose this option if you still want to use the staging site and only want to delete temporary files
Now you understand the main thing about the WordPress staging site, its benefits and how to create them or maximize the productivity of your page.
I hope this article has helped you to create a staging environment for your WordPress site.
FAQs about staging site
What does a staging plugin do?
A staging plugin creates a copy of your WordPress site on your web space, where you can edit pages, try out plugins, themes or any other changes. In this case, if there is any issue with the theme or the plugins, you can rebuild the staging site again and create another copy of your live website.