What is a Staging Website and Why Do I Need One?
Here’s Why You Need a Staging Website
So, what is a staging website?
A staging website essentially sets the stage for a new website that is being developed from an already existing website. It is a duplicate of the already existing website that is not meant to be accessed by the public. Any desired changes to the website are applied to the existing website content. When it is set up correctly, a staging website will not be picked up by search engines (Google, Bing, etc). A staging website can also refer to a brand new website, with zero duplicate content.
Okay, but why do we need one?
Because staging websites are hidden, they allow desired website changes of any caliber to be tested securely. This allows you to thoroughly review your updated website before it goes live and shows up in search engines.
Avoid Website Downtime
Most importantly, a staging website allows you to avoid having your website ever go down as you are testing changes. Of course, you do not want your website to be down in any capacity. This also includes having a website is under construction message. You should never use a website under construction message. It looks bad and immediately deflates website visitors’ confidence in the site and what it is supposed to be selling. You want your published website content to be as relevant as possible in order for it to rank well on search engines.
This secure testing of your desired updates also allows you to make however many changes you want, and take however long you want to do so. Your already live website remains published and unchanged while any changes are applied to the staging site. This allows you to directly compare your live site with your staging site as you make the changes you desire.
Okay, makes sense! How can I create one?
How you create a staging site varies depending on your hosting provider of choice. The option to create a staging site can easily be found in a WordPress or cPanel dashboard with the click of one button that is labeled as staging.
Creating a Staging Website with WP Engine
WP Engine, otherwise known as WPE, comes with the one-click staging option. In one click, you can create a staging website, and in one click, you can make the site go live. WPE is our preferred hosting provider.
With WPE, you can create a simple hosting environment, or set up virtual servers. A professional web developer can help you choose the options that fit you, your website, and your desired changes best.
How easy is it to make website changes?
Once the staging site is created, going from staging to live and back is not as hard as it seems, though it must be done correctly. Using WordPress, once all changes are decided upon and made, the staging site can go live and replace all published content from the existing website with a few clicks. Advanced options are available in order to soft publish the staging website and not immediately replace all existing website content.
Staging Environment Overview
Here are the overall steps for creating and publishing a staging site:
- Create your staging site.
- If you have a live website, its content should be copied to the staging site.
- Apply new and/or edited content to the staging site.
- Review and compare the new content in order to make sure you have exactly the changes that you want to make.
- Deploy your staging site to live.
- The previous live site is then overwritten.
Look over our staging graphic for a visual representation of these steps:
Best Practices for Staging Sites
All in all, using WP Engine’s one-click option is the most user-friendly option. If you choose to do it yourself, you must pay attention to all changes you are making, as you can still easily eliminate and break portions of your website that you did not mean to change.
Tips for Moving the Staging Site to Live
Here are a few tips/best practices for moving the staging site to live when using WordPress:
- Make sure to uncheck “block search engine”
- Check and double-check your URLs
- Make sure that https is on, and green
- Triple-check that your website URL is correct in settings
- Most importantly, if you already have a living website, make sure that you do not overwrite any changes you made to live first.
Create Your Dream Custom Website with Smack Happy
We will make sure that your website is just right for you and your business. We will create a staging site for you and customize your website to meet your wants and needs, quickly.