Setting Up a WordPress Staging Site: A Beginner’s Guide
Why Creating a Staging Site is Essential?
As a professional web developer, it is imperative to ensure that your client’s website works seamlessly without any disruption. Any direct changes made to the live site’s production environment could pose a risk to your client’s business. Therefore, it is essential to create a staging site to develop, test, and deploy changes before rolling them out on the live site.
Step 1: Choosing A Suitable Environment For A Staging Site
The first step in setting up a WordPress staging site is to find a suitable environment to host the new website. You can either use a local development server on your computer or a web hosting platform that provides built-in staging environments.
Local Development Environment
Using a local development environment has its advantages, such as speed, privacy, and complete control over the setup, configuration, and maintenance of your staging site. To create a local staging site, you need to install the necessary software and tools like a local development server software, a code editor, and a web browser.
Web Hosting Platform with Staging Environment
Using a web hosting provider with a built-in staging environment can save you time and resources, especially if you’re not comfortable with technical server administration. Most hosting companies offer one-click staging sites, allowing you to clone your live site to a staging environment with a single click.
Step 2: Creating a Staging Site
Once you’ve set up your environment, the next step is to create a staging site:
Using a Web Hosting Provider with a Staging Environment
If you’re using a web hosting provider with a staging environment, you can create a staging site by following these simple steps:
- Log in to your hosting account and navigate to the Staging area.
- Click the Create Staging button, and the system will create a new site for you.
- Once the process is complete, you’ll receive a fresh set of login credentials for the staging site.
Using a Local Development Environment
If you’re using a local development environment, you need to follow these steps:
- Install WordPress on your local machine.
- Create a new database for your staging site.
- Download the Duplicator plugin and install it on your WordPress site.
- Use Duplicator to create a package of the live site and move it to the local development environment.
- Install the package on your local server and configure it accordingly.
Step 3: Configuring the Staging Site
Once you’ve created a staging site, you need to configure it to match the live site’s environment. Start by installing the same theme and plugins used on your live site. This ensures your staging environment looks and behaves precisely like the live site when testing your changes.
To do this, you can either:
- Install the theme and plugins manually by downloading them from their official sources and uploading them to your staging site.
- Use a plugin like WP Staging or All-in-One WP Migration, which allows you to copy your site entirely, including the theme and plugins, with a few clicks.
Additionally, you want to ensure your staging site is password-protected or placed behind a firewall to prevent unauthorized access, keeping your testing environment safe.
Step 4: Testing and Deploying Changes
With the staging environment up and running, it’s time to test your changes before pushing them to the live site. You can do this by logging in to the staging site and making the necessary changes you want to test. Once you’ve finished testing, you can deploy your changes to the live site by using a plugin like WP Staging, which allows you to merge your changes from the staging site to the live site with a few clicks. Alternatively, you can manually transfer your staging site’s files and database to the live site using an FTP client or phpMyAdmin.
You should also take a backup of your live site before deploying any changes, as a precautionary measure in case anything goes wrong. You can use a plugin like UpdraftPlus, which allows you to take complete backups of your WordPress site and restore them in case of loss or damage.
Setting up a WordPress staging site is not only essential but easy to implement. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can create a safe and secure testing environment to develop, test, and deploy changes without risking your client’s business. Remember always to take a backup of your live site before deploying any changes and test thoroughly before making them live. By following these best practices, your clients will trust you more with their website development and maintenance needs.