How to create a staging site
Creating a staging site is quite simple, but it ultimately depends on the hosting provider you use.
You don’t have to go too far out of your way to create a staging site in WordPress. The process is as simple as installing a WP staging plugin and going from there.
However, you can also set up a staging site through your web host. Here’s how that process works:
Choose a hosting provider
Choose a host that offers a staging site feature or gives access to one through control panel software, like cPanel. If you already have a web host, check the options to see if you have the feature. If you don’t, speak to your host about it.
While you can make a staging site within a CMS, it’s typically better to use the web host because your staging site will have the same server configuration and setup as your live site. If your host doesn’t offer the option, you can create a staging site manually on a subdomain.
Duplicate your live site to the staging site
Once you've chosen your hosting provider, you need to duplicate your live site to the new staging site. Your hosting provider's control panel should offer the option or even a one-click solution.
How you clone your live site will depend on the options offered by your hosting provider. Some hosts make the process easy with guided steps and a lot of documentation.
However, some other hosts may offer the feature but leave the rest up to you to figure out. In such cases, or if you’re creating the staging site manually, do some research on how to go about the process properly. Some quick searches will gain you the answers you need for best practices involving any web host.
Install a CMS
Layer a CMS on top of your staging site. The most popular CMS, by far, is WordPress. Other CMS solutions will follow a similar method. But, hosts that offer a WordPress website solution will often make it very easy for you to simply click a button and launch an install.
Configure the staging site
Make sure your staging site includes the same themes, plugins, URL scheme, and all other settings from your live site. If you can’t copy over the proper folders, then make sure to do a side-by-side comparison. You can use a WordPress staging plugin to facilitate all or most of this process.
Review and test the site
You should basically have a full copy of your live site at this point. Make sure it works like your live site and that all the features, designs, and updates are firmly in place.
Test everything and ensure it’s all working as it should, with some allowances for the fact that you’re not using your live data or information.
Best practices for staging sites
Here are some best practices when it comes to using staging sites and avoiding common accidents with them.
Keep the staging site private
Your staging site isn’t for everyone. Make sure only to grant access to those who absolutely require it.
Keep it far away from the public. Password protect your staging site and only allow authorized users. If you need a third party, make sure to rescind any access granted after they’re done.
Avoid data sync issues
Keep your staging website synchronized with your live site. Otherwise, you can suffer data loss when you try to make changes. You can use a plugin to keep the synchronization with your WordPress staging site, but you can also do it manually.
Don’t share databases
Your live site and staging website should not share a database. If you accidentally overwrite one with the other, you can have some serious problems on your hands, especially if you don’t do regular full backups.
Do regular full backups
Make full backups of your live site routinely, especially before pushing an update from your staging site to your live site. Even when everything goes well in the staging environment, there’s still a chance things could fail on your live site for various reasons.
Update the site regularly
Keep your staging site updated. You’ll want the latest software and plugin versions on your staging site. If your staging site operates properly with the updated software, you have a good indication that your live site will as well.
Build better business websites with staging sites
Staging sites help you build better business websites, increase user experience and retention, and offer up-to-date features. You gain a safe environment to test things and try out changes without disrupting your live site. You ensure site functionality, and your users will appreciate the lack of downtime from you trying out new things haphazardly on your live site.
However, this all starts with having a responsive, modern business website from the start, which you can create with Mailchimp.
Whether you are launching a new website or redesigning your existing site, Mailchimp offers various tools and resources for web development. Check out Mailchimp today and create a professional business website that showcases your brand in a positive light.