This article is going to focus on WordPress development and management, but it can apply to any web application you’re hosting on your own server. Essentially, we’re going to discuss what a staging environment is and why it’s so important to have!
A Staging environment is a separate place for you to test your website before launching it to your live (known as production) environment where public visitors can see it. It acts a final check on your website to ensure that everything is running as expected and make any last minute adjustments.
Commonly, developers code on their own computers (locally) or on a dedicated development server and then deploy it to the live website location. That live website location is officially called “production”. This method is
Best practice is to have a dedicated space to clone your website before launching it live. This is what a staging environment is used for. Let me explain it with an image.
A staging environment allows you to duplicate the live environment for testing purposes with the same server settings. We do this so that final changes and testing can take place before being placed into production.
Development environments are where your agency will build or make major changes to your website. Before migrating live, you need to get it on your environment to do your final tests. The dotted lined box around the staging and production environments indicates this. Staging should be close enough to your live site that it can be easily transferred and updated (you need to sync databases, which we will cover in another article!).
Why does staging to site owners?
When a developer starts explaining things about why the site works or doesn’t, when they start telling you it’s the hosting company’s issues, or when they send you to the support line for the host – they may be right.
Or they may be wrong.
The easiest way to tell is to test the code on the staging environment to see what’s going on.
We recommend setting up a sub-domain (e.g. “https://staging.yourwebsite.com) to easily clone your website and provide your team with a staging environment for any major updates. Most hosting providers allow this.