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How to Develop Your Client’s Website Without Launching it On Their Domain

Whether you’re adding a new page, a custom app, or just tweaking the header, any change to a website has the ability to go wrong. That’s why any time you add a new feature or element to a client’s website, you should test it before going live. If you don’t have skills to transfer your WordPress website today, this article will help you reach that goal.

Luckily, there are several ways to create a test and then transfer to a WordPress site. The method you choose will be based on the client’s wishes, your preferences, and the work that’s being done. Here are some of the most popular options and the pros and cons of each:

Create a WordPress Staging Site Using Your Builder

Many website builders offer one-click staging environments as part of their packages. The exact steps to set up a staging environment may vary slightly from platform to platform, but they’re all fairly similar. BoldGrid, for instance, offers staging as part of their premium package.

Here are the steps for creating a staging site on BoldGrid:
  1. Log into your BoldGrid admin dashboard
  2. In the left-hand menu, click Inspirations
  3. Select a category for the staging site
  4. Select an inspiration (theme) for the staging site
  5. Choose the pageset and functionality that you wish to use with the theme
  6. Fill in the contact information
  7. Choose Keep my existing website available for visitors and make this new inspiration a Staged Website (if you have never set up a staging site) or select Make this new inspiration my Staging Site

Create a Subfolder for Your Existing Site

One of the easiest ways to create a test site is to use a subfolder of your existing website.

For example:  http://www.example.com/testsite 

You can then set up a new database and duplicate the content from your original database in it. This method is easy and fast because you don’t have to make any DNS changes or use an outside program, but you run the risk of overwriting your real site by mistake.

Create a Subdomain

A subdomain is a second website that’s part of your larger domain and can hold its own content. For example, if you already own the site www.yourwebsite.com, you can then create blog.yourwebsite.com and then map the subdomain to your main site if you choose.

To create a subdomain, go to your hosting service’s cPanel and navigate to the “domains” section. Click “subdomains,” then enter a name for the subdomain URL you want to create, then enter the exact same information in the “document root” field. Click create, and your subdomain has been created.

Since the new domain has an entirely different name, it’s unlikely that you’ll get confused and overwrite the original site. However, creating a new domain can be a time-consuming process and many people don’t want to wait.

Keep the Test Site Local and Host a Live Demo

If you are able to meet your clients in person or present your work using a screen sharing application, you can complete a local test without having to later transfer your WordPress site. All you have to do is keep the site running in your local development environment and then present your work by walking your client through the site.  

It’s an incredibly easy option, technical challenges are minimized, and you can receive live feedback from the client as you show them the changes you’ve made. On the other hand, it doesn’t allow clients the time to really digest the changes before deciding.  

Which Staging Method is Best?

Any of the above methods allow you to make changes without affecting your live site. It’s a matter of finding balance between what you want, what the client wants, and what the job requires. We like option #1, as creating a staging site in your website builder eliminates the need to transfer your WordPress site later.

Bottom line: don’t settle on a test method without doing research. Choosing the appropriate process is key to your client’s satisfaction and the health of your ongoing relationship. If you still don’t feel confident using your new transfer WordPress site knowledge, you can always contact us for additional support.