Staging site: what it is and how to create it

A staging site is a trial version of the website, used to test changes and improvements before making them public on the main site. It's a separate environment from the live site that allows developers and marketing teams to try out new features, designs, and content in a controlled environment. Setting up a staging site is a relatively simple process and can be done using a variety of tools and technologies, such as a dedicated server or cloud hosting. This can be useful not only for testing changes, but also to avoid any disruptions or problems on the live site during updates.

Staging site: what it is and how to create it
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What is a staging site and how does it work

A staging site is one private version of your website which is used to test changes and updates before making them public. This allows you to verify that everything is working properly before making the changes visible to your website visitors.

A staging site is created by cloning your existing website and making it accessible only via a private URL. This allows you to make changes to the site without end users being able to see them. Once the changes have been tested and verified to work properly, they can be uploaded to the public website.

Owning a staging site is therefore a form of security for your website, as you will be able to make changes or test new features without creating damage to the live website. Furthermore, developing new features on a staging site allows you to avoid damaging the user experience during its navigation.

How to create a staging site

Create a staging site it's quite simple and can be done using several methods, including:

  • Using a dedicated hosting service for setting up staging sites
  • Using a staging site builder plugin for your CMS (WordPress)
  • By manually cloning your website and making it accessible only via a private URL

The first option to create a staging site is one of the most used, but it should be noted that not all hosting services offer the possibility to create a staging site. Typically, dedicated staging functionality is provided by high-quality WordPress hosts because they know the value of a staging site, such as AWS, one of the most popular website hosting services, but also siteground, Aruba And Register.

It is generally very convenient to set up a staging site directly through your hosting provider as they are very often provided integrated services which allow the creation of both sites (live and staging) at affordable prices. However, it is advisable to contact your hosting provider before proceeding to make an estimate of the costs in advance and not find yourself with unpleasant surprises.

As a second option, you can rely on specific plugins for creating staging sites that can be installed on your WordPress site. Duplicator Pro is an example of a plugin, although it is more dedicated to duplication of files on the website, or you can rely on core WordPress plugins like WP Staging that allows you to quickly clone your site through a familiar dashboard by excluding databases and folders that you don't want to clone and choosing which files to bring live.

The last option, though definitely not the most cost-effective in terms of time and effort, is to manually clone your live site and create a test environment by logging in with a private URL. This solution consists in having to build all the components you need manually and without any automation, this can lead to the possibility of errors and bugs and above all a duplication of work. It's not a recommended solution, but it can be useful for more extreme and niche cases.

Whichever option you choose, one thing to remember is the need to equip yourself with a subdomain of the primary domain before creating a test environment. Having a subdomain is necessary since it will be the "place" where the staging site will reside. To create it, simply go to the web host's control panel and choose the subdomain to use (e.g. test, stage).

Why create a staging site

There are many reasons to use a staging site, for example it is very useful for making gods test new features that you want to import into the site. Testing in a staging environment that is not made public to the user avoids damaging the user experience while browsing and is also much safer in case of bugs or malfunctions of the new feature.

A staging site is also very useful to be able to resolve any issues before users see them, for example if there are forms that do not work correctly in a staging environment it is possible to test them and correct any errors.

Plugin updates can create malfunctions on the site or incompatibilities between plugins can occur. Having a test environment allows you to update plugins securely, going to solve any problems in case of malfunctions.

Create your Staging Site

Having a test environment for your website is definitely an activity to increase the security of your website during development. If you've never thought about setting up a staging site for your site, start now. Trust us and together we develop the best Testing environment for your website.

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