Do you want to try something new on your website? Are you a user who wants to update new features and functionality, and add new plugins and new themes to the website to add additional charm and extra service to your customers? Yes, a staging site is to test and experiment with how it looks when updating features, plugins or new themes, and other changes before going live on your live website.
What is a staging site?
A staging site is a duplicate or copy of a live website. The purpose of creating a staging site is to test and experiment with the changes, and updates and evaluate the fixed bugs before going to production. Testing on the staging sites saves you from breaking down your sites if found errors on tested plugins, themes, and features.
Your live and staging sites are completely the same with the same settings, plugins, and widgets but with only one difference. The only real difference between your live website and a staging site is that the latter is not live. The most important part is the staging environment won’t affect your live website. Once everything works perfectly and catches no error you can definitely push or deploy the changes to the live site.
Advantages and disadvantages of a staging site
Every aspect has its positive and negative sides so have the Staging sites too. It is not available to the public so the user can try anything that appears in his mind without any risk. Changes inside this environment don’t affect the public production website.
Advantages: Definitely staging sites have been introduced to us to have a better user experience. Creating staging sites is straightforward, simple, and trouble-free. And we know a staging site is a perfect place to find errors, fix bugs and solve technical issues. It further enables you to produce better websites with numerous trials of numerous themes and plugins. Similarly, you can even change anything from the ground up, try new things, and practice with code snippets, animations, and more, with no repercussions. It also allows users to even set up locally or online as users prefer.
Disadvantages: It has cons too. Firstly, the staging sites take time to update. Likewise, it seems costly because most of web hosting agencies often charge for a staging site’s service. Unlike this, this can not test the product for the stress of high levels of traffic which is present in live conditions. Lastly, it is also not possible to completely replica the live websites.
How to create a staging site for WordPress?
Well, there are various ways to create staging sites in WordPress. We will here discuss the 3 different ways to build a staging site.
- Via a WordPress hosting provider
- Using a staging WordPress plugin
- Creating staging sites manually
Creating Via WordPress Hosting Provider
Some web hosting companies have a built-in staging site feature so that you can create staging sites with a single click. There won’t be any hassle if your hosting provider offers staging sites. If your web host doesn’t offer it as a part of the hosting plan if obviously have to pay an extra charge. Web hosting providers like Bluehost, WP Engine, Site Ground, Elementor hosting, Flywheel Cloudways, and Kinsta offers staging sites as part of their plans.
Every hosting has its own way of building a staging site. You can create a staging site from your WordPress Admin Panel, go for staging, and follow the process it asks. We will share with you an example of creating through the popular web host Bluehost.
- First log in to your WordPress site’s admin area and go to Bluehost » Staging page.
- Next, click on the ‘Create Staging Site’ button to continue.
- It then prepares for the staging environment. Choose one option to switch between the production and staging sites.
- Simply click on the radio button next to the Staging site and Bluehost will switch to your staging website.
- Once switched, you can see a button on top of the screen indicating that you are working on the staging website.
Creating Via WordPress Plugin
Do your web hosting offers staging sites? If not, using plugins to create staging sites is a great option. Several plugins such as BlogVault, WP Staging, WP Migrate DB, and WP Stagecoach are popular choices for creating a staging site for your live website. It is a bit more advanced and a good option for checking out basic tweaks and testing the compatibility of newly created plugins and themes. On the other hand, there is rarely the possibility of causing some unexpected problems and interfering with the whole website with some of the complex themes and plugins.
Let’s have a look at how to create staging sites with plugins. We will show you an example with a WP stagecoach. It is one of the popular plugins for creating and publishing staging sites. It aims to handle unexpected issues, and downfall flawlessly. Follow these steps to create.
- Install and active WP stagecoach
- Go to WordPress dashboard>WP stagecoach.
- Enter a username and a license key, which can be found in the confirmation email or on the plugin’s website, under your account information.
- Visit the WP Stagecoach » WP Stagecoach page and choose a name.
- Click on the ‘Ride the Stagecoach’ button to continue.
- Go through the guided wizard process that includes several steps to finish setting up the staging site.
- Once finished, you can get a URL where you can view the staging site and start editing it.
Creating a site manually
It is one of the complex methods and not a beginner-friendly way to create a staging site. This method is somehow easy if you are quite familiar with using FTP clients, phpMyAdmin, MySQL, and the core of WordPress structure.
This method accesses you to control each step as you proceed through the process, which can take the potential problems out of using a plugin or host. On the other hand, it might increase the probability of an error if you are not accustomed to working in cPanel programs or FTP. Follow these steps to create a staging site manually.
- Go to Cpanel and create a subdomain named “staging” or something similar.
- Create an FTP user.
- Download files from your live site.
- Upload WordPress files to staging sites.
- Export / Import your database.
- Modify or edit the wp-config.php file.
- Log in and restrict access to your staging sites.
Generally, staging sites are test sites and a duplicate of a live sites. It enables users to experiment with new products and features without worrying about breaking something up. It is prominent and a great idea to test something before using it on a live website we are working with.
Here, we discussed the 3 different methods of creating staging sites. The first method with a web host is the best option if your hosting offers. Whereas creating with a plugin is also not a difficult method. The third option creating manually via your local server may not be friendly for beginners but for experts, it is the best. You can create as you prefer. Similarly, when you are done creating staging sites you can migrate or push WordPress staging to production. Alike creating staging sites you can push changes from your staging site to your live site via three main methods: using a plugin using your web hosting provider, or doing it manually.
We hope this article helped you learn how to easily create a staging environment for your WordPress site.