What is a staging site?
A staging site is a clone of your live website. It enables you to test any changes or major new features that you plan to implement in a secure environment. Developers typically use staging sites to test changes and fix bugs before going to production.
Your staging site is intentionally identical to your live site—same plugins, same settings, same widgets, and so on. The only real difference between your live website and a staging site is that the latter is not live. Instead, it exists in a sort of sandbox where you can see how your WordPress website would react in everyday scenarios. Anything that happens in the staging environment won’t affect your live website.
Benefits of using a Staging Server
Updating your WordPress website core, themes & plugins
Anyone who has used WordPress knows that, on occasion, things can go wrong. Typically this is most likely to occur when you update your WordPress core, your theme files or your plugins. There are a lot of moving parts on a WordPress website, and, in order for things to function as they should, all these parts need to ‘play nicely’ with each other. With new WordPress core updates being released every few weeks (major and minor updates), frequent plugin updates and occasional theme updates, the potential for things to go wrong when updating your site are significant.
Test new features for your website
New features can help keep a website fresh as well as introducing improved functionality for a better visitor experience. Anyone who wants to keep their site relevant and up-to-date will likely see a range of improvements they want to make over the lifetime of the website. Introducing new features onto a live website however can be risky.
Make wholesale design changes to your site
Sometimes you want to embark on a complete site redesign. Instead of starting completely from scratch you might want to salvage a significant chunk of your existing website (such as the page copy, blogs and so on) and just make design changes. Perhaps your business is rebranding with a fresh logo and color scheme.