WordPress Staging For Startups
Advances in the Staging Process mean the era of live testing updates should be officially over.
Speak to almost any web developer you know and you’ll eventually hear a horror story about installing a new plugin or update, only to find that your site has broken in ways that you didn’t even know were possible. For small cloud startups, that kind of worst-case scenario can undo everything you’ve worked so hard for. A stable staging environment is the solution to all of these problems and should be a non-negotiable.
Raelene Morley, writing for WPMUDEV says “If you’ve ever activated a new plugin or upgraded to a new version of wordpress only to find errors on your site, you will know the importance of testing first.”
Techopedia unpacks the staging process: “Typically, software or a website is deployed on the staging server from the development server or once its development is complete. A staging server helps to identify the software or website behavior, experience and performance as it will be visible on the production server.”
As recently as two years ago, the easiest way to set up a test environment was by cloning your site on an existing host account and there are still many reliable ways to do that. MAMP lets you set up a local host environment for OS X, XAMPP is a well-respected open source localhost PHP development environment for Windows, OS X and Linux, and there are a number of other credible hosts for staging in this useful list.
Here are a couple of examples of staging plugins that look promising. Keep in mind when testing new plugins, it’s very important to ALWAYS do your own due diligence and research first before installing. Each site host is different, albeit: Shared hosting, VPS, dedicated, cloud etc…
In recent months, WordPress developers have begun introducing a number of staging plugins. One such plugin is called WP Stagecoach which is a one-stop shop that allows you to create a ‘staging copy of your site’ where you can introduce the changes and test the plugins compatibility, before you “merge your changes back to your live site”. It’s a simple but effective system, and the extra layer of password-protection on the staging site, as well as the ability to revert any changes that don’t go according to plan, make it a stress-free option for implementing changes.
WPStaging is another new option – a plugin which “clones, duplicates and migrates live sites to independent staging and development sites that are available only to administrators.” One user wrote a glowing review of WPStaging which explaining the changes. “This is an absolute life-saver, time-saver. I tried to create staging site manually, but it turned out to be an utter nightmare. I wasted days and got nowhere. Then I came across this plugin and I couldn’t believe how amazing and easy it was to use it, just click the button.”
Fundamentally, it seems that the era of live testing, fixing updates and plugins is over. There are affordable, reliable and simple tools available now to make sure that companies that rely so heavily on the web never have to present software that hasn’t been fully tested and tweaked in a safe, private staging environment.
By Jeremy Daniel