It’s time to level up.
Learn how to easily create a staging site with WordPress, so you can test new updates before going live on your production site.
In this post, I’ll share an excellent plugin that can create staging sites and quickly transfer changes back to your live site. And best of all, the whole process takes just a few minutes.
How to create a staging environment
To create the staging site, we’ll use WP Stagecoach.
WP Stagecoach is a plugin made to easily create staging sites with WordPress.
Rather than setting up your subdomain, the plugin is configured to create staging sites on the wpstagecoach.com domain. This means there is very little setup and configuration required to launch your staging site.
In the coming sections, we’ll cover everything from installing the plugin to creating and deleting a staging site.
Install WP Stagecoach
WP Stagecoach can be installed and activated like any other plugin. You’ll receive a zip file that can be uploaded via the Plugins menu.
Configure WP Stagecoach
Once installed, you’ll find a new WP Stagecoach settings menu in your dashboard.
This is where you’ll enter your username and API key to enable the plugin. As you can see, there aren’t many settings to configure, and you likely won’t need to adjust any of them.
If you check off Enable Advanced Options, you’ll get access to a new settings page with the following options.
Once again, these settings are useful, but you probably won’t need them for general use. Now let’s get to the good part already!
Launch the staging site
The plugin’s main menu page is where you’ll find the option to launch your staging site.
Here you can name the site and WP Stagecoach will generate a staging environment on a subdomain of wpstagecoach.com.
Once you click the Ride the Stagecoach! button, WP Stagecoach will begin creating the staging site.
I used it on a small site and it took about 2 minutes to generate the staging site.
When a complete, WP Stagecoach provides a URL and SFTP/FTP login credentials for the new site.
The staging site is an exact replica. That means your themes and plugins are copied over with the same settings, and all posts, pages, and custom post types are present with the same content.
The only difference you’ll find is a reminder in the admin toolbar that you’re using a staging site.
Edit the staging site
Now that you have a staging site, you can make your edits.
Anything you change can be imported to your production site. That includes edits to child theme files, plugin settings, and even new posts and pages.
Once you’re happy with your changes, it’s time to import them back to your real site.
You can make your staging site private if you don’t want anyone visiting while you work on it.
When a staging site is live, WP Stagecoach adds a new menu item for importing changes.
Once you click the Check for changes button, WP Stagecoach gets the status of your changes and prepares your site to import them.
The menu then updates with new options for importing
Copying only file changes will import any new plugins or themes you’ve added as well as any changes you’ve made to their files.
Importing the database changes will import posts, pages, media, and any updates to plugin and theme settings.
And of course, you can also import everything.
You may want to backup your production site before importing changes from your staging site as an extra precaution. You can follow our backup tutorial to learn how to backup WordPress now.
Review the import
After importing your changes, WP Stagecoach displays the following page.
In case there were any errors with the import, you can revert updates made to the database.
Otherwise, you can clean and delete the staging site. After all, you don’t need it once you’ve imported your changes.
Go live with a staging site
Using a staging site will give you peace of mind and a more professional workflow for updating your site
Creating a staging site seems like a lengthy and technical process, but WP Stagecoach makes it simple. Using WP Stagecoach is as easy as installing a plugin and clicking a few buttons.
If you have any questions about creating a staging site with WordPress or about WP Stagecoach, post a comment below.