When creating a site, or making changes to your existing one, you need an efficient way to test any alterations you make in real time – without running the risk of breaking your live site.
Some people choose to make their changes directly onto their live site, but if you are looking to experiment with a few new techniques, or want to be able to leave a task unfinished and come back to it later, then you really should create a test site to play around with.
Here are a few different ways to go about setting up a test website:
1. New Subfolder
- You can create a subfolder within your existing site that you can use to test new pages. This creates a duplicate database of your original which you can then work on separately
- This is simple to set up and straightforward to use
- It can become confusing as the domain names will be very similar, meaning you may accidently overwrite your live site with your test one
2. Test Domain
- Using cPanel, you can use a new domain to create your test version. It works the same way as the subfolder technique, except you create a new URL instead of just a new subfolder; (e.g. testing.yourwebsite.com/)
- Just like the subfolder option, this is easy to navigate and set up. Sub-domains also look more professional to users and search engines when they come across them
- There is still a risk of getting confused and accidently saving your changes onto your live site
3. New Domain
When you purchased your domain, you may already have been allocated another website domain that you’re not currently using which can be turned into a test site. Alternatively, you may want to create a new domain expressly for this purpose.
- If you’re willing to put in the time and possible expense, this is a good choice as there will be no confusion between your test site and your live site
- You may have to pay out for a new domain
4. Offline Tools
You can install software on your computer that will allow you to create a test website completely offline. The main benefit to this option is that you can work on it whenever you want, even without an internet connection.
- Completely separate from your live site so it is safe from viruses, network issues and human error, which also means it allows you to see your website ‘live’ without interfering with your online stats
- It can be difficult to share your test site with others, which is problematic if you’re working for a company or organization, and you won’t be able to test for things like website speed or usability testing
Which of these is the best option for me?
As with most things, the best option is the one that works for you. Those who are just starting out and feeling their way through website creation and testing may feel more comfortable with the first two choices. More experienced users will head straight for the last two options, so gauge which one suits you best and run with it.
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