What are WordPress staging sites?

SkyStra
Dec 7, 2019

Are you uncomfortable updating themes or plugins on your WordPress website when major versions come out? Seeing that red dot on your plugins tab can be unnerving.

It’s perfectly understandable considering plugin or theme updates could potentially break parts or all of your website.

This is where WordPress staging websites come to play.

A staging website is a temporary website you can launch to safely test your themes, plugins, updates, or code changes before going live. It’s a perfect clone of your live site, so you can test anything knowing that you’re working on the same version of the website.

It’s like a performance stage, but without a live audience, perfect!

Previously, it was difficult to set up a staging site for WordPress application, but now even a non-technical person can take advantage of this feature. WordPress developers are fans of this feature as it allows them to test changes to code to prevent errors occurring on live websites and avoid potential downtime.

These types of websites aren’t meant to be available to the public audience and should only be used by you. They shouldn’t be discoverable by Google search bots either, so make sure to disable search engine indexing.

Here are some of the most common environments used by developers during development:

  • Website Development: used for initial testing of new features and contains the latest updates to the codebase.
  • Website QA (quality assurance): used for finding issues in code before pushing it to the production website.
  • Website Staging: used for addressing any remaining errors/issues before pushing code to the live website. It essentially acts as a bridge between development and live versions of your WordPress site.
  • Website Production or ‘Deployment’: a final version of your site that end-users see. Ideally, end-users should never see any errors or experience issues since they were ironed out in previous versions of the website.

Now that you know what a staging site is and how it can be used in the development process, let’s discuss the pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Easy setup (especially on Skystra :))
  • Allows you to produce better websites and experience fewer disruptions
  • Allows you to catch errors and bugs without affecting your main website
  • It can be configured both locally and online, depending on your needs

Cons:

  • It can take a bit longer to perform updates on your site since you need to test changes first
  • Since caching isn’t enabled on a staging website, it’s not an exact clone of the live website, so that needs to be accounted for as well
  • Some hosting companies charge for this feature (Skystra provides it for free :))
  • If you create it locally on your computer – the environment can differ from your web host set up

Do I need a staging website?

It depends! We recommend everyone to use a staging website, but sometimes it may not be practical, especially for smaller sites. However, if your website generates any income, or provides a service to the customer – creating a staging site is the smart thing to do.

The last thing you want is to lose a sale because a button doesn’t work!

How can I create a staging website?

Creating a staging website with Skystra is extremely easy! First, log in to NOVA (Skystra’s client area) and click on the WordPress icon on the right-hand side:

This will take you directly to your WordPress Manager where you can install and manage your WordPress applications.

Click on the pencil icon on the right-hand side of the screen (Edit Installation Details):

Now you’re ready to create a staging website!

Click on the Staging menu option in the left frame:

In the pop-up window, you’ll need to input some installation details:

  • Protocol: set to https://
  • Domain: input the domain where your main website resides
  • Directory: input subdirectory where your staging website will live in (also, this will be the suffix which you’ll use to access it)
  • Database: input database name (or you can keep it randomly generated)

Done!

Now when you go back to our WordPress Manager, you will see your new staging website set up and can proceed to use it for your updates or code changes: