While working with WordPress, as developers we have to do some tweaks on our website almost every day. We may feel comfortable while adding a small snippet of CSS code in theme editor or customizer. Installing a new plugin might also be an easy job for us. Considering these points, one may assume that there is no need for a staging website at all. But this approach can backfire any time, resulting in high Website downtime. If you like to play with fire, believe us you don’t need to read this article. In this article, we will look at:
Every modern day Website developer will highly encourage you to have Multiple Environments to ensure the website is completely tested before going live. Experts have suggested having a Development > Staging > Production setup for your project.
Development: Developed and tested by developers. If bugs are found, they are resolved before deploying.
Staging: After deploying, the tester uses a staging website to ensure that everything is working properly. Any bugs found are reported back to developers to be resolved.
Production: If everything goes well, you can make changes to your production site. And it is available for the visitors.
Staging Website and its Importance
A staging website is actually an exact replica of your main website deployed on real-time environment except:
- Not available for visitors.
- Changes you make in staging environment does not make any difference to your main website.
You can always test some new features or make some changes to existing features without the risk of breaking your main Website. You may do it in right or a wrong way. But you don’t have to fear about breaking down your production site. Having a staging website is as important as testing a website before going live.
Pros and Cons of a Staging Site
Having discussed the staging website and its importance, it is also necessary to talk about the pros and cons of setting up a staging website. But first, let’s give a verdict about the staging site:
“Pros of having a Staging Website will always overcome the Cons of it”
- There is always a learning curve while removing bugs. Staging website gives developers a chance to learn and move ahead to resolve different issues before the time comes.
- Visitor’s experience is not affected by the changes we make on staging for testing.
- As staging can be both, Online and Offline. So we can test and develop while being offline.
- If we choose our hosting providers to build a staging website for us, we may have to bear the extra cost.
- Development speed might get slow as the testing phase takes longer time.
Create a WordPress Staging Site
Now that we have discussed the staging site and the pros and cons of having a staging site. It is time to discuss how we can create a staging website for our WordPress website.
Just like most of the features in WordPress, setting up a staging site also has multiple ways. Selecting our method depends on some factors like the hosting provider of the website, the scope of your project, and most important of all is the developer’s level of expertise.
We will be discussing three ways to set up a staging website in WordPress. Which are:
- WordPress Staging site with a Host
- WordPress Staging site with a Plugin
- WordPress Staging site on Localhost
Let’s dive straight into creating a staging website by using these ways one by one:
WordPress Staging Site with Host
There are a number of hosting servers currently providing users the facility of setting up a staging website with just a few clicks. Out of all those, here are the four most used hosting providers.
If you host your website on one of these hosts or any other host with this feature. You have already made a good decision.
The main advantage of using your hosting server for staging website is that you can move your changes to the production environment without any problem. With just a couple of clicks, you can import the files you made changes into the production website. This feature overcomes the disadvantage we discussed above the time we might consume while testing and importing changes to our production environment.
WordPress Staging Site with Plugin
We may come across a situation, where our host might not provide the feature for setting staging site up. In that case, the best way for us to make a staging site is to use a WordPress staging plugin.
There are many WordPress staging plugin plugins available for doing this, we will look at three of them and how we can use them to achieve our goal. The plugins we are going to use are:
With 40,000 + active installations and 4.8 stars rating WP Staging is setting new standards in duplicating WordPress sites with much ease, despite being relatively new in the WordPress market.
WP Staging is trying to bring the one-click installation of staging in the WordPress admin panel. There is no need for configuration, the plugin handles all of this.
To set up a staging site with WP Staging follow these steps:
- Install and activate the plugin
- Go to WP Staging option in the admin menu and click on GENERATE NEW STAGING SITE
- Enter the name of your staging site. This name will be used for the subdirectory.
- You can also choose options to exclude or include certain files.
- Click START CLONING
- Once the process is completed, you can log in with the same credentials.
You will have a different color for the admin bar. At the moment, the plugin does not support pushing the changes to the production site but the developers of WP Staging are working to accomplish this feature too. Hopefully, it will be available soon. But for now, it is good enough to test your website.
All-in-One WP Migration
With 2+ Million activations and 4.8 stars rating by the users, All-in-One WP Migration is a very much user-friendly migration plugin. It allows us to extract an exact copy of our website into a file, which can be directly shared on Dropbox or Google Drive etc. Which is best suited for the testing purposes.
All-in-One WP Migration is also a complete backup plugin. It can make a backup of your website and you can save and download it in .zip format. You have to set up a different WordPress set up on your own. Follow these steps to export the file from All-in-One WP Migration:
- Install and activate the plugin.
- Go to All-in-One WP Migration > Export.
- You can replace the URL of your site with the URL of the Staging Site.
- Click on Advanced Options, from here you can choose what to include or exclude from the database of your staging version.
- Click on EXPORT TO, and choose your option. The plugin will make a file for you. You can download it from here.
- To import this file, first, you will have to create a WordPress set up and install and activate All-in-One WP Migration. Once you do following just go to import and select your file from your computer.
When the import is complete, you can make this website your staging website and do testing.
Using All-in-One WP Migration is very useful when you want to take control of the things, you want to export or not. You can always choose to export media, spam comments, posts revisions, and other things only if you want them in your staging site. This can reduce file size and make the process fast. Maybe this is the reason why the plugin is becoming popular in the developer’s community.
WP Stagecoach is a premium plugin. To install this plugin you have to download and enter your API key. The developers of this plugin truly suggest that it is totally worth the investment due to the rich features.
- One click installation: Provides one-click installation even for the shared hosts.
- Secure: Super secure, you can protect your pages with passwords.
- SSL Support: Native SSL is available to install and integrate.
- Database Merging: Most valuable feature of WP Stagecoach, which no other staging plugin is currently providing. You can have your production site work normally when changes are made on staging site, import database without affecting the performance.
WP Stagecoach can prove to be the fastest way to set up a WordPress Staging Site. The main difference between WP Stagecoach and other plugins is that it provides a ONE CLICK solution to import one or more changes to the production site.
WordPress Staging on Localhost
If you don’t want to use your host to set up a staging website, you can do this by developing a new website on the localhost. To clone a website on localhost, you need to have a complete backup of your main website, which can be made by using either of these plugins.
To migrate a site to localhost you have to follow these steps:
- Setup Xampp or Wampp (If not already available).
- Setup WordPress locally.
- Create a full backup of your website through the plugins.
- Import data into the newly made WordPress setup.
- Update URL and links on the new website. Setup your permalinks.
This approach can give you complete control over development and can be relatively a fast and rapid process for experienced developers.
Using localhost for staging your website might be affordable as it does not cost you. But at the same time. It can have a drawback of not properly tested with the hosting environment. You should always prefer to have a staging website on a host.
Setting up a staging website without any plugin can be a difficult task to do. Which is not recommended by WordPress experts unless you have experience in WordPress development locally and you are comfortable with messing around MySQL database queries.
There is no second thought on the importance of Staging Website. But you have to choose a way of doing the job according to your own requirements. You may choose a Hosting solution if you have a website which requires more frequent changes to fasten the process. But if your website does not need frequent changes you can opt for a plugin to do the job. And in case, you are an expert too and can handle database operations, you must choose localhost for your staging website.This guide by WP inCare is very helpful to develop a WordPress Staging Site.Click To Tweet
Hopefully, this article is useful for you in order to set up the staging website. If you have any queries, feel free to contact us. We will be more than happy to help you. And in case, you do not have any kind of experience in WordPress Development, you can contact us for the development too.