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Have you ever attempted to change something on your website for the better but it turned out something else broke along the way? We feel your pain. That is a common scenario whenever small business owners try to optimize their online store. The good news is that it shouldn’t be that way. Every change from little fine attunement to big brand designs could be pre-tested in a completely safe environment. Enabling staging grants you access to a duplicated version of your websites dedicated to experiments without any risks of blowing things up. 

Who needs a staging website? 

Successful online businesses and eCommerce owners are constantly on the lookout for new ways to test new things to increase conversion rates and drive more sales. Today, the internet is perhaps more competitive than the traditional realm of business to a greater extend. To gain higher market shares and enjoy a fat slice of the pie in your niche, ongoing optimization is vital for any growth strategy. However, staying on the verge of technology and marketing trends requires testing different approaches and tactics. Some of them might work and others won’t. The key is to move onto the next thing faster while remaining agile to change. 

If you want to remain adaptable and build a change-resistant business in the 21st century staging your website is an ingredient for a successful recipe. Ideally, everyone who offers services and products on their website needs a staging website to navigate through updates and changes in a safe environment. 

What is staging a website?

Staging a website is creating a duplicate working version very much like installing a WordPress website. You can select which plugins and functionalities to show in order to test and experiment completely risk-free. Whereas the live version of your website remains completely unaffected by any changes on the working version. On the staged website, you can change designs from themes to plugins. Whenever you want to transfer your changes from the staged website to your live version you can simply override the files. 

Do you remember those “Under construction” messages on websites? Having a staging website removes downtime completely. A good way to further minimize the risk of losing valuable data is to create a full backup. Check if your hosting provider offers a backup of your files. Makes sure that all your data is synced before you start work on your now duplicated website version. Select only the files that you need like theme, builders (ex. Elementor), and other plugins that you need. There is no need to transfer customer data on your staging website. The whole purpose of the staging website is for you to experiment and test functionalities. 

How to create staging? 

Start by asking your hosting provider for staging solutions. Some might charge additionally for this service while others might offer it for free. In any case, here are a few steps to consider that usually take part in the process. 

Plugin for website duplication

Let’s take WordPress as an example. Before you initiate the installation of another CMS on your website, create a copy of your current version. You can check WP Staging which is a free plugin to do the job.

Create subdomain 

Login to your cPanel or hosting control panel and create a subdomain for your website. From there go to domains and choose a simple subdirectory for your website like “sample.mywebsite.com”. This will become your URL address of the newly found working version of your online store. 

Turn off search engine indexing 

It is important to turn off search engine indexing on your staged website. Otherwise, leaving it turned on may cause conflicts between your live version like duplicated content. That may decrease your SEO rankings and leads to negative consequences overall. 

Summary

Creating a seducing website is not a simple task. It takes time to get to know the people you serve and to deliver exactly what they are looking for. This is a process that involves a whole lot of revisions. To prevent your online store from errors, bugs, and crashes you can set up a working version dedicated to development work. You can pre-test all the new features, designs, and third-party tools that you want to add to your website on a staged version. Having a risk-free space for work enables you to create and implement changes faster. In addition, over time you will accumulate the skills and know-how to deliver relevant content to the people whom you serve. Minimizing downtime and optimizing uptime is what staging does for you.