As more content management systems (CMS) having automated updates built-in the need for a staging server is critical. In our environment we have a development environment which is our development machines, a testing or UAT server, a staging server which is verification of a move right after everything having been tested, and finally a production (prod) server. With a UAT and staging server you will be as close to the production environments as possible. The reason is for this is so that you can closely test performance and usability before moving items into the production environment.
Staging Server Definition
A staging server is a production server without users hitting your website. A staging server allows you to deploy updates on production ready code, install CMS, database, and script updates with the ability to test them without breaking your production website. By using the staging server, you can check for very simple items that provide a bad user experience. In our screen shot for this blog article you see a site for a company that spent over $5,000 for a website.
The website that spawned this article is set to install updates without any human validation. Even though the website was not done by us we did contact the company and asked if they knew that their website was broke. They actually were quite honest and stated it had been broken since WordPress was updated 4.5.3 came out on June 21, 2016. Today is September 14, 2016 and they are now 85 days as of this article.
How can we fix this?
The first item is to turn off the automatic updates for your CMS, plug-ins and themes. This may seem like a bad idea it really isn’t. It prevents from these breaking operations happening on your website. With updates turned off you now have to update your site manually (on a staging server first and not your production server). This allows you to then check out all the pages of your site that they are not broken. After everything is done then you update your production server in the same way that you did on staging using the notes you took for updating the staging server.
Having a staging server does double your work. Having one does allow you to always look your best and not have the type of mistakes that were seen on our screen shot. In fact, most companies that have maintenance plans like JM2 Webdesigners will provide you a staging server for doing these types of validations so that you do always look your best for your clients. If you need help with a staging server, maintaining or upgrading your website JM2 Webdesigners from Valparaiso Indiana is ready to help your business. You can reach us at 855-456-2669, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through our contact form here.