What Is a Staging Site and How to Create a Bluehost Staging Site for Your WordPress Website

Website construction is like a game of Jenga. The pieces are interrelated and you move them around and add new elements. But unlike Jenga, it can be a disaster if you move the wrong piece or stack a new block that doesn’t fit. 

In Jenga, you lose the game if the tower falls over. But in real life, if your website breaks, you might lose customers and trust in your business. 

Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t alter your website or experiment with new features. It just means you need a staging site. 

But what is a staging site? It’s a copy of your website where you can make changes that don’t alter your live website until you deploy them. 

A WordPress staging environment is an essential step in the web development process. It can allow you to upgrade your website without disrupting your live website and customer experience. 

You can build a staging environment manually, with a plugin, or through a web host. A Bluehost staging site is an easy way to test your WordPress website. If you’re looking to improve your website, it’s vital to learn how to create a staging site.

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What website environments you can use 
  • The answer to “what is a staging site?”
  • How you can use a staging website
  • What the advantages and disadvantages of a staging site are
  • Who needs a staging website 
  • How you can create a Bluehost staging site
  • What the best practices for your staging website are

Different Environments for Your Website 

When you design your website or add new features, it’s worthwhile to create a development workflow and set up different environments for your website. 

You can help your website grow if you learn the basics, like what is a staging site or how to use a development website. 

Environments can include: 

  • Development 
  • Quality assurance (QA)
  • Staging 
  • Production 

A development website is the first step. Here you can test code and explore new features. This stage is where you can work out any kinks or bugs that arise in the foundation. 

Once the coding appears secure and stable, you can move on to quality assurance. A QA environment is for comprehensive testing to reveal any additional issues. The QA stage is an essential step for many bigger companies where a website crash could be disastrous. 

The next step is the staging website, which functions as a bridge between your website’s testing and live versions. This environment can also serve as QA and be a playground for functions and testing. But it will need to be fully functional before you can move forward. 

The final stage is production. This is your live website that users will interact with. 

When you use multiple environments, you can introduce updates to your website without interrupting your user experience. Let’s delve more into the importance of a staging website. 

What Is a Staging Site? 

A staging site is a duplicate of your live website. It acts as a copy of your website where you can use it to test new features, upgrades, or changes you want to make without introducing errors. The goal is to catch and fix any bugs before the changes are published. 

Your staging website is not available to the public. And unless you deploy them, any changes made on your staging site don’t affect your actual website. You control the process, and your staging website will only overwrite your live website when you’re ready. 

You can create a staging site through your web host. If you make a Bluehost staging site, it gets stored on a staging server that is the same as your live website’s server. 

You can also build a staging website manually, but that often requires more work and a different staging server. Or you can use staging site WordPress plugins like WP Stagecoach or WP Staging.

How You Can Use a Staging Site

A staging website is a versatile environment that can be used based on your needs. But what is a staging site’s use? It gives users the chance to experiment and be creative without damage. 

You can use it when you want to:

  • Switch themes
  • Add or remove plugins
  • Change code 
  • Test major software updates 
  • Reorganize your website 
  • Upgrade functionality

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Staging Site

Now that you know the answer to, “what is a staging site?”, it’s useful to explore the advantages and disadvantages of using one. 

Disadvantages of a Staging Site

  • It can be costly if you use a staging plugin
  • It can take time to properly test a staging site
  • It’s not guaranteed to replicate your website exactly (for example, staging sites don’t usually enable caching)
  • It can get confusing if you deploy a change to your live website but don’t update the staging site

Advantages of a Staging Site

  • You can test features and software updates out without breaking your website 
  • You can experiment before you commit to choices, allowing for more creativity 
  • You can troubleshoot issues and fix bugs without taking your website down
  • It provides better workflow development
  • It increases the stability and functionality of your code 
  • It’s a private testing environment 
  • It empowers you to make better websites 

While some of the drawbacks are valid, setting up a Bluehost staging site gives you peace of mind. If you take the necessary time to test new updates, you can save time in the long run. And while it won’t necessarily be an exact copy, a staging environment will catch any major bugs. 

Who Needs a Staging Site 

Anyone who has a website would benefit from a staging website. It is an essential tool for eCommerce websites. When a customer comes to your website, any downtime can cost confidence in your business and sales. 

The same goes for blogs or informational websites. You want viewers to trust that your website will be up when they need it. Website downtime affects how users view the overall quality of your business. 

There’s also a link between downtime harming your relevant search ranking. While software developer Matt Cutts says a short downtime won’t hurt, it’s a chance you don’t want to take. 

A staging website is also a good option for anyone who wants to grow as a web developer. If you like to tweak your website, a WordPress staging site allows you to try new plugins or features. 

A Bluehost staging site can also be a great place to learn more about web development if you’re a novice website builder. 

How to Create a Bluehost Staging Site

  1. Go to your WordPress dashboard
  2. Click Bluehost, then select Staging from the menu
  3. On the Staging page, click Create Staging Site 
  1. Wait for Bluehost to prepare your staging site environment
  2. Go to your staging website and start experimenting

When you’re done making changes to your Bluehost staging site, you have options if you want to install those changes on your live website. You can choose to deploy all changes, only deploy the files you made changes to, or only deploy the changes you made to your database.

Based on what changes you made, you can choose which option makes the most sense for that update. 

Best Practices for Staging Sites

Now you know the answer to “What is a staging site?” Next, you need to ensure you get the most out of yours. 

A staging site is supposed to prevent future headaches, so adhere to the following suggestions to make sure it doesn’t cause any problems:

  • Be careful when deploying updates: Make sure everything is how you want it to be. A staging site gives you the confidence to publish your changes because they’ve already been tested. But it’s still necessary to be diligent and verify the details. 
  • Take notes: Keep track of what you test, what works, and what doesn’t. You don’t want to make the same mistakes again. Stay organized and keep notes to make development easier. 
  • It’s OK to break it: Don’t be afraid to break your staging website — that’s why it’s there. It won’t affect your live website. So get creative and push your website. You might learn more about its capabilities.
  • Stay under the radar: Be aware your website could get picked up by Google. You want your staging site to stay private. Take preventative measures to ensure your staging website doesn’t get listed.

What is a staging site? Use the information you’ve learned here to boost your web development game. Instead of crashing your website, you can use your staging site when you experiment with new features or add updates. 

While there are some downsides, like using an expensive plugin, or potential confusion, a Bluehost staging site will calm your concerns. You can easily create a staging site on your homepage and upgrade your website without disrupting your customers. 

Are you ready to add a Bluehost staging site to your dashboard? Check out Bluehost’s hosting plans today. 

Desiree Johnson
Desiree Johnson | Content Specialist
Desiree Johnson is a Content Specialist at Bluehost where she writes helpful guides and articles, teaches webinars and assists with other marketing and WordPress community work.

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