In life, I like to take my time, be mindful, and see the whole picture before I make a mistake. I do not handle flying by the seat of my pants well at all. On one hand, this has caused me to take an hour to decide on a box of breakfast cereal to buy. That is not hyperbole, unfortunately. On the other hand, it led to my family finding a home with everything we need at a drastically lower rate than the ones around it.
This has infiltrated all parts of my life. In particular, I like to do anything I can to test out a decision before committing to it. For each video game I play, I have several save files that are designed to be my testing environment. I use them to test out a decision and see how it goes. Even when it goes well, I will reload the game and try to do it better.
So it is really great that I can do this with websites. I do not have to commit to an update or change. I can use a staging environment to see how a choice plays out.
For more details on using a WordPress staging environment, follow the links in the table of contents below.
Table of Contents
What is a WordPress Staging Environment?
Have you ever wanted to play around with an idea just to see what it looks like? You might have an idea for a new website design that you want to play around with. And by “play around with,” I mean making tweak after tweak and publishing the site to see how it compares. A situation like that outgrows the “Preview” button really quickly. Fortunately, there is a solution.
A staging environment is exactly what it sounds like. It is a separate instance where you can work on staging your website. “Staging” means to prepare, especially in regard to visual presentation. That is why they call it “staging a reenactment” and “staging a crime scene.” In both cases, they are not in the actual event or location. They are working to create a similar version of it at a separate place and time.
The same works for websites. You can have access to a staging environment that lets you play around with your website all you want. Any changes you make do not get published to your live website. Instead, they are visible only when you look at your website from that environment. So now, you can go wild with changes and ideas without any worry that you might screw up your website.
What is a WordPress Development Environment?
The two seem to always be spelled out and separate. You have probably seen both “development” and “staging” used to describe a website test environment. But is there any kind of difference between the different terms? And if so, what exactly sets them apart from each other?
In simple terms, the development environment focuses on the code of the website. This kind of environment is built for developers. It is set up with software that helps organize the work of multiple developers at a time by allowing them to work on snapshots of the existing data that can be merged in to help prevent conflicts. When things get technical, you go with the dev environment.
The staging environment is basically a recreation of your production environment. Production, in this case, means actually making real changes to the live website. Staging is meant to work exactly like production, but changes do not get published. If you are doing any major migrations or are making really big, core changes to the site itself, the staging environment keeps those from accidentally breaking your website.
The staging environment gives you an opportunity to make the changes and then test them as in-depth as possible before committing to them. It is way better to find and fix a problem here than it is in production. If your choices are between catching an issue in staging or having a user find it online, you want to find it yourself every time.
How to Create a Staging Environment for a WordPress Site
How do you make a working WordPress test environment? This is not typically something someone does on their own. There are services available that will store an instance of your current website that you can treat as a staging environment. In some form or fashion, you have to gain access to one of those services to have a staging environment.
WordPress does not provide a staging environment by default. Instead, it supports third-party applications. All you have to do is google for “WordPress staging environment” to see how many options are available. After finding one that works best for you, all you have to do is follow their instructions. Different services have different ways of giving you access to the environment. Plus, you need to make sure to get an instance of your website into that server in order to use it.
As you can see, tracking down someone to provide a staging environment for you can be a big task. It requires server access, permissions, and anything else that the company needs. And no two companies are the same. So there is no guarantee that you will know what each one will need.
The good news is that it does not have to be that difficult. With the right kind of hosting, you can get a staging environment right away. It makes sense considering that you are already trusting your host to store your website on their servers. With a reputable, managed WordPress host like WP Super Host, you can get an intuitive staging environment with a click or two. So save yourself the headache of finding a third-party staging environment and take a look at what WP Super Host can offer your website.
Using an Online WordPress Development Environment
You can access this environment the same way you added your website to it. Once you have logged in and are connected, you have the ability to make any change you want. Generally, these environments do nothing to show that they are not being published to your live site. It is important to know for sure when you are accessing your staging environment or if you are on your live site.
Because of that, everything works exactly the same. Once you know that you are accessing your staging environment, it is up to you to make the changes you have in mind. And when it involves multiple stages of publishing, new tweaks, and other experimentation, you can publish to your staging environment all you want.
The Best WordPress Staging Environment
Your staging environment primarily needs two things: performance and convenience. There are plenty of quality plugins and services that can help you create a staging environment for your website. They work hard at being user-friendly too. However, there is still the problem of getting them.
Usually, you need to patronize a service like AWS. Then, you can follow the process of getting a functional version of your website on a staging environment on that company’s server. However, there is no need to have to go through that. Instead, you can satisfy this need through your website host.
Your website host might already have staging and dev environments for you to use. In the case of WP Super Host, you can engage your environment from your hosting dashboard. It is part of every one of our hosting packages. We want to make sure everybody has what they need to build, run, manage, and update the best sites possible. This is also why we offer features like free SSL certificates and SFTP access for all of our sites as well.
On the more general front, the WP Super Host team regularly monitors for uptime, updates, and plugins to make sure everything runs smoothly. And just in case something does accidentally get published to your live site, we offer automated daily backups that are stored for 30 days. All of this paired with our attention to performance and reliability help provide you with the best hosting possible.
Your websites deserve the best treatment possible. Make sure your site or blog can take advantage of the best performance and features around at competitive prices. This includes making sure you always have access to a staging environment for all of your websites. Take a moment from your day and discover website hosting from WP Super Host today. And if you are already using a different host, we offer easy migration.
Using a WordPress staging environment is a must when you plan big changes, updates, or migrations for your website. There is too much that can go wrong. Any slight miscalculation can cause the site to crash, bottoming out your traffic and angering your visitors.
You need to be able to see how these changes will affect your site before they go live. And while proofreading is great, it cannot catch everything. You need a situation where you can test exactly how the site will act when it is published. And for that, you have to use a staging environment.