A Beginner’s Guide to the WordPress Staging Environment

If you are using WordPress to build or develop a website, testing it is key. Making your website live without testing it will give you a lot of problems, such as slow page loading speed and other issues that you do not know about as yet until they present themselves when updating blog posts or plugins. 

Therefore, it is important to create a WordPress staging environment first before making your website public. In this article, we will show you how to create a WordPress test environment to make sure your website performs well before making it live. So, let us get started!

What Is a WordPress Staging Environment?

A staging site for WordPress is a replica of your public website. This is perfect when you start to develop your website and build and test it to see how it is going to work and flow. You can code snippets and test plugins and themes. This makes sure you prevent errors when the website goes live. 

The WordPress staging environment is not accessible by people and search engines. This is because you use this environment for testing and development purposes. To help you better understand how the WordPress staging site works, here are its primary functions:

Build Phase

You can build your website in the WordPress staging environment, free from public eyes. You can test different themes and plugins to find the right configuration for your website. You can also fine tune your images to make sure all pages load fast. 

Pre-launch Quality Assessment 

Checking your website’s quality is a priority. During the quality assessment process, you will have the opportunity to make major changes to your website to find any issues with pictures or code. This is especially important for large-scale websites as a bad user experience will negatively affect their revenue.

Website Replication

As mentioned earlier, the WordPress staging environment is a replica of your live website. It allows you to make changes to your website without worrying about customer experience or SEO rankings. 

Development Ground

As stated before, the WordPress testing environment allows you to build and upgrade parts of your website and test them to make sure they are working before making the website live to the public. It is the perfect place to explore website features and fix mistakes before going live.

Why Is the WordPress Staging Environment Important?

It is important primarily because you can build, test, and enhance your website before creating the changes and making the website live. Another benefit is to use this as fine tune code, catch spelling and grammar mistakes, and make sure that each page is optimized for speed.

You can experiment on the functionality of the website and see if it works. If you are a webmaster working for a client, you can write new code, test it, and show it to the customer to see if they like or would like to make any changes. If they are happy with it, you can push the changes to make them live on the public website. Also, if you will introduce new code and test it, you will not take down a live website. 

When it comes to the pre-launch test, there are common scenarios you can use the WordPress development site with:

Security Engineering

This type of engineering is required to inspect every plugin installed on the website to make sure it is from a valid source, has been updated, and is optimized for the current version of WordPress. Doing this ensures your WordPress installation is secure from any prying eyes.

User Acceptance Test

This is a type of test that identifies whether the site you are developing meets the standards you want. If you are a webmaster, this is the stage where your clients decide if you did what they expected you to do.

Durability Test

Durability test for websites is where you determine if the developed site is stable. You can test each feature of the website to make sure it is performing correctly. 

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Search Engine Indexing

Google crawlers will crawl the staging site if your crawler allows it to. If it is, it will find errors and catalog them in the Search Console just like the live site. To stop the crawler from finding your WordPress development site, you configure the site from being indexed by any crawler. To do this, you can use the robots.txt file. 

It tells the crawlers of search engines which files or pages they can or cannot request from a website. This is to ensure your website is not overloaded with requests. In other words, the robots.txt file manages crawler traffic on your site.

Is the WordPress Staging Environment Different from Your Live Website?

Yes, it is, although the structure of the staging site is the same as the live one. This is the reason why you can freely make changes to the staging site without affecting the live one. 

How to Build the WordPress Staging Environment

Now that you know what the staging site is about and its importance in building and developing your website, it is time we proceed to the ways to create it. You will need to access your control panel account given by your web hosting provider to do this modification. You have two ways to do it:

Using Subdomains

Once you are logged in, search for Subdomains using the search box. Click the icon once you see it.

In the first field of Create a Subdomain, type in Staging. Leave the other fields blank and click Create

You will then see a message that the subdomain is created. Click Go Back. You will go back to the Create a Subdomain page, and you will see the subdomain you just created at the bottom.

Go back to the control panel main menu and scroll down. Stop at the Softaculous Apps Installer section and click the WordPress icon.

Install WordPress, and build and configure your website. Make sure to not let “crawlers index this page in your WordPress settings”. Once you have designed and implemented your website, you are ready to publish it. 

You can then go to the WordPress installation page and hover over to the Current Installations section where you can see the staging subdomain you created. At the right side of the row, you will see different icons. Hover over the icon next to WordPress and click it. This to push the changes from staging to the live website. You also have the option on this page to set this version to live in its current location. 

We would always recommend to build, modify, and test in the staging area. Then, push these changes to the live website. 

Under Customize, select the option to push the full database, so all changes are pushed through to the new website. 

You will then see a message that the push to live is a success. 

Conclusion

Now that you understand what the WordPress staging environment is and how it works, you can start planning what configurations you would like to make. Create a backup and make all your changes on the staging site. Push your developments to live when you are happy with them. All of these modifications are done using cPanel, which makes the process a lot easier. So, follow our guide in creating and developing your website now and achieve your goals successfully!