How To Create A Staging Site

SkyStra
Dec 7, 2019

What Is A Staging Site?

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 your website.

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

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

Staging sites aren’t meant to be available to a 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 the website creation process:

  • 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 a production (i.e. live) website.
  • Website Staging: used for addressing any remaining errors/issues before pushing code to a live site. 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 your visitors and customers see, otherwise called ‘end-users’. 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 have 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 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 staging (Skystra provides it for free!)
  • If you create a staging site 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 use a staging website when pushing updates or testing out new variations of their sites, but sometimes it may not be practical, especially for smaller sites. However, if your website generates any income, or provides a service to paying customers – creating a staging site before going live 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 Site With Skystra?

Creating a staging website with Skystra is extremely easy! Login to your AccountCenter Client Area, select your service, and click the WordPress Tools option under the Quick Shortcuts section:

WordPress Manager

This will take you directly to your WordPress Manager where you can set up staging:

Create Staging

Click the arrow icon on the right side of your WordPress application to expand options:

Next, click the Staging button on the bottom to start the process:

Now you’re ready to create a staging website!

Settings

You’ll need to fill in some details for the Staging site:

  • Protocol: set to https://
  • Domain: the domain for your main website (for example, skystraconnect.com)
  • Directory: the subdirectory where your staging website will be saved (this will be the suffix which you’ll use to access it)
  • Database: input database name (or you can keep it randomly generated)
  • Disable Search Engine Visibility: We recommend enabling this option as you don’t want search engines to index your staging/temporary website.

Click the Create Staging button and poof, you now have a staging site for your website. The system will show detailed progress on the creation of your staging website and let you know once it’s completed:

Staging Site WP Dashboard

When you go back to your WordPress Manager, you’ll see your new staging website set up under the primary website: