Blogs are not static. There are, of course, new blog posts—that’s baked into the definition of a blog. But there are other changes you need to make throughout the life of your blog: regular updates to WordPress core, design changes, link updates, and more.
When updating things like WordPress core, plugins, or themes, we recommend taking a quick UpdraftPlus backup of your site before updating. While those often go smoothly, that backup provides a failsafe just in case you encounter serious errors.
But sometimes the changes you want to make are a bit more intricate. These require trial and error or approval from multiple parties. This includes big things like theme or framework changes. But it can also include design updates on your existing theme or reorganizing your content.
For these changes, we recommend setting up a staging site. A staging site lets you experiment and try new things without worrying about the impact to your readers’ experience.
What is a staging site?
Staging site: A website used to assemble, test, and review its newer versions before it is moved into production.Wikipedia
A staging site is a common tool for web development. Although we commonly use the term for WordPress sites, it’s not WordPress-specific. We use staging sites for our larger development clients as a way to test and verify our code implementation before launching it into production.
Agathon offers staging sites to all of our WordPress hosting clients. We encourage clients to use them whenever they’ll be making changes that could potentially impact the user experience (UX).
Recently, for example, we’ve seen many clients using staging sites as part of moving to Mediavine’s Trellis framework. Because changing frameworks (like changing a theme) is a more involved process, you should make these changes on a staging site first. That way, if you encounter any weirdness, you have a chance to address it before going live.
Setting up a staging site
Setting up a staging site at Agathon is as simple as emailing support and asking us to set one up for you. In the past, we’ve recommended plugins that offer a “one-click staging solution.” Unfortunately, we’ve found that these can sometimes lead to buggy behavior that cause more trouble down the road. Instead, we prefer to create them manually.
Once you’re happy with the results of your tests, you have two options: For smaller, incremental changes—such as new sidebar widgets, font changes, or theme updates—you can make those same changes on your live site. If your changes are a bit larger and harder to recreate, we can replace your live site with the staging site. As with setting up the staging site, Morgan will handle this process for you. He’ll sync any new posts, pages, or comments, and then set it live, replacing the old site in the process.
After the site has been synced and made live, you’ll want to click around a bit to make sure there are no surprises. And of course, we take nightly backups. We also recommend you run an UpdraftPlus backup for additional redundancy.
Moving to Trellis?
If you’re like many bloggers, you’re anxiously awaiting the public release of Mediavine’s Trellis framework, which they built for speed and SEO. If you know you’ll be using Trellis once it’s available, we’d be happy to get you set up with a staging site now so you’re ready for the launch.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get started!