What Is a Staging Site? How Do You Set One Up?
WPEngine (WordPress) | Jan 12, 2022
What is a staging site? To put it simply, a staging site is a clone of your live website. It enables you to test any changes or major new features that you plan to implement in a secure environment. Developers typically use staging sites to test changes and fix bugs before going to production.
Your staging site is intentionally identical to your live site—same plugins, same settings, same widgets, and so on. The only real difference between your live website and a staging site is that the latter is not live.
Instead, it exists in a sort of sandbox where you can see how your website would react in everyday scenarios. Anything that happens in the staging environment won’t affect your live website.
Development vs. QA vs. Staging vs. Production Sites
Most common types of WordPress testing environments that are used during development:
Development website. This environment contains all the latest iterations of the code you’re working on. It’s perfect for initial testing of new features.
Quality Assessment (QA). During the QA process, changes to your website will be tested thoroughly to find any issues that you may have missed while coding. This type of environment is most often used by large companies, since they can’t afford to have bugs pop up on live sites.
Staging website. A staging website acts as the bridge between the development and live versions of your site. At this point, any remaining errors should be addressed, and the changes should be ready to roll out.
Production website. This is the live version of your website that users will see. If you’ve been careful throughout the development process, this iteration of your WordPress site should be bug-free and provide a flawless user experience.
Staging Environment vs. Testing Environment
The Benefits of Using a Staging Site
Enable you to produce better websites
Provide you with the opportunity to catch errors and bugs without putting your site at risk
Are usually simple to create
Can be set up locally or online (depending on your preferences)
The Drawbacks of a Staging Site
It takes longer to update your website (as you need to test changes first).
Web hosts often charge for a staging site service (although you can always set one up locally).
Staging sites may not be exact replicas of a live website (caching is not usually enabled on a staging site, for example).
Who Needs a Staging Site? Ideally, everyone who runs a website needs a staging test site. However, if we’re being practical, staging websites should be used at the very least by anyone who runs a sizable operation.
How to Create a Staging Site for WordPress
Option 1: Set Up a Staging Test Site Through Your WordPress Host
Option 2: Using a WordPress Staging Plugin to Create Your Staging Sandbox
Option 3: Set Up a Local Installation
Should You Create a Staging Site Manually?
How to Deploy Changes to Your Live Site
Develop Safely With WP Engine
Author = Erin Myers