Creating a WooCommerce & WordPress Staging Environment
Creating a WordPress staging environment is a great way to test changes to your WordPress and WooCommerce websites without affecting the live site or risking downtime if there is an issue with changes or updates to your site.
What is the Purpose of a WordPress Staging Environment?
A WordPress staging environment is a replica of your production environment. The staging area allows you to test changes made without affecting the live website. For example, you can safely modify themes and test plugins in the staging environment. If something goes wrong, your production website will not be impacted.
What is the Difference Between a WordPress Production Site and Staging Site?
A WordPress staging site acts as the bridge between the development and production versions of your site. Within the staging area, any remaining errors should be addressed, and the changes should be made ready to roll out after thorough testing.
A WordPress production site is the live version of your website that users will see.
What is a WordPress Staging Environment?
A WordPress staging environment is an exact copy of your website that you can access and make changes to. Everything is the same — and in most cases, even the server is the same — so you can be confident any changes you make to the staging site will look and behave the same when applied to your live site.
It’s always a good idea to test your changes in a staging environment to prevent the possibility of having your site go down due to a technical issue. Occasionally, a plugin or theme update, or a change to the code on your website, can “break” your site meaning the site will not be accessible to everyone, or look or behave differently. Having a staging environment ensures that any changes you make will not negatively affect your live site.
In addition to testing updates or code changes, a WordPress staging environment is helpful if you want to see how visual changes may appear to potential site visitors. Any changes you make in the editor on your staging site will look the same if you apply those changes to your live site.
Another use case for a staging site is if you want to make changes to your site but need to share those changes with someone before the general public sees those changes on your current website. A staging site is accessible through a different URL — oftentimes a string of random letters or numbers, or a slight variation of your website’s domain. You can then share the URL with stakeholders or anyone else who may need to see or approve changes before they go live.
Creating a Staging Environment for WordPress
How to set up your WordPress staging environment will depend on your web hosting provider. However, for Nexcess Managed WordPress customers, setting up a staging environment is incredibly easy. The following steps will walk you through it.
WordPress Staging Environment Staging Environment Setup Step #1
Log in to your Nexcess Client Portal.
WordPress Staging Environment Staging Environment Setup Step #2
In the left panel, click on Plans to see all your sites.
WordPress Staging Environment Staging Environment Setup Step #3
Locate the plan for which you want to create a staging environment. You should see a tab that says Environments.
WordPress Staging Environment Staging Environment Setup Step #4
When clicking Environments, a toggle should appear with two options.
WordPress Staging Environment Staging Environment Setup Step #5
Click the small plus sign next to Staging Environments.
WordPress Staging Environment Staging Environment Setup Step #6
You should then see a new box appear with two options to select. Make sure both boxes are selected, and then click the Create button.
WordPress Staging Environment Staging Environment Setup Step #7
Once completed, you should see the new staging environment under the Environments tab. You can then access that site similar to your live site. You can also find your SSH and SFTP details listed — in case you need to access your site remotely in a secure fashion.
And as easy as that, you’ve created an exact copy of your live site.
Staging Environment Best Practices
You can make any changes needed to your staging site but keep these important points in mind when making changes.
- It’s a good idea to test plugin and theme updates on your staging site before your live site. Plugin developers do their best to try their code with different environments, but an update will get pushed every once in a while, that may break your site. Consider making the updates first on the staging environment and then checking to ensure the site wasn’t affected. Once you’ve confirmed that, you can feel confident making those updates on your live site.
- Anything you do on the staging site is only reflected on the staging site, so you may not want to go too crazy with changes. However, anything you change on the staging site will need to be done the same way on the live site. If you want to make several changes, consider keeping a list of them, so you don’t forget what you did.
- Due to the long obscure domain name, this site may not be easy to find, but be aware that it’s still technically a live website. Although no one will likely find it unless you share a link, you should not publish any sensitive information on the staging site.
- Take advantage of the staging environment for code changes. Before pushing any code to your live site, you should always test it on the staging site first.
Consider Managed Hosting with Nexcess
Now that you’ve seen the advantages of a WordPress staging environment and how easy it is to set one up, you’ll most likely want your next hosting plan to include this awesome feature. Managed WordPress hosting with Nexcess makes setting up your staging environment easy. And with 24/7 support, you can rest assured knowing you’ll have the Nexcess team to help you with any step of the process.
Managed hosting is a service where the hosting provider carries out all of the administration, setup, and maintenance and offers an excellent customer support service. If anything goes wrong with your WordPress managed hosting, the service provider will fix all the problems as quickly as possible, so your WordPress site is kept up and running correctly.
Nexcess Managed WordPress and Managed WooCommerce Hosting provide the ability to create a staging environment to test, design, and experiment with changes without affecting the performance of your live site.
Fully Managed Hosting Plans with Nexcess
Nexcess Managed Hosting offers you faster speeds, more robust security, inherent scalability, and trusted support. Once your website is ready to go live, consider our stellar hosting plans:
- Managed WordPress Hosting with automatic plugin and platform updates.
- Managed WooCommerce Hosting with built-in image compression and the acclaimed StoreBuilder interface.
- Managed Magento Hosting with instant auto scaling, PCI compliance and premium security.
Plugin Performance Monitor — Test Your WordPress Plugins Automatically
Don’t let changes to your website slow you down. The Nexcess Plugin Performance Monitor watches your site hourly, so you don’t just see the problem - you know how to fix it.
Why Choose Nexcess?
Because we are different! Chris Lema captures "the why" in his passionate and stirring recount of a Nexcess support-related story.
Why Your Hosting Provider Matters
We’ve optimized hosting for the industry’s leading commerce and content platforms. That means speed, security, scalability and support are built in. Backed by free migrations and 30-day money-back guarantee, let us show you why we’re the best.
No one optimizes hosting for open-source applications better than Nexcess!
- Using MAMP with WordPress for Local Development | Nexcess
- How to Use XAMPP for Local WordPress Development | Nexcess
- Laragon: Best Local Development Environment for WordPress | Nexcess
- Nexcess: Managing Dev & Staging Environments | Nexcess
- Cloning & Moving a WordPress Site to a New Domain | Nexcess
- What is a WordPress Staging Site? 3 Ways to Set It Up  | Nexcess
Note About the Original Publication Date
This article was originally published in October 2019. It has since been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.