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Using WordPress

MUST Read Before Launching a Site

wordpress-review

Are you wondering if you should make your website with WordPress? You might have heard a lot about WordPress; it is the most popular content management system after all. But, you may still be wondering if it’s the best choice for you to make a website.

In this WordPress review, we’ll go over what WordPress is, share the pros and cons of using WordPress to build a website, the cost of WordPress, and more.

Let’s get started.

What Is WordPress?

wordpress-review

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that allows you to easily create and manage important features of your website without needing to know anything about coding or programming. In simpler terms, WordPress is a website builder that makes it easy for beginners to launch a website.

WordPress is a free and open-source software, which means it’s free for anyone to download and you can use the software for any purpose you want. Does this mean it’s completely free to build a website with WordPress? Well, not exactly, to make a WordPress website you still need to register a domain name and web hosting. But, we’ll get to that later.

It’s also important to know that there’s a difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. While WordPress.org is self-hosted software, WordPress.com is a freemium website hosting service. With WordPress.org you have complete control and ownership of your site. Plus, you get access to all WordPress features right out of the box. But with WordPress.com, there are a lot of limitations and restrictions.

For more details, check out our article on wordPress.com vs. wordPress.org – is one really better than the other?

In this article, we’ll be reviewing WordPress.org, which we recommend you choose over WordPress.com to build a website. So, anytime we mention WordPress going forward, we’re referring to WordPress.org.

Now that you know what WordPress is, let’s take a look at how popular it is.

How Popular is WordPress?

WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world. In fact, it powers 34% of the entire internet. That percentage is leaps and bounds ahead of other content management systems like Joomla, Drupal, Shopify, and Squarespace.

wordpress-popularity

That statistic alone is enough to show you how many people use and trust WordPress to build their websites.

Not convinced about the popularity of WordPress? Check out these other interesting WordPress statistics:

  • 14.7% of the top 100 Websites are powered by WordPress.
  • WordPress’ share of the global content management market is 60.2%.
  • Over 60 million people choose WordPress to power their website or blog.
  • As of 2014, tens of thousands of new WordPress.com sites are created every day.

Typically, there’s safety in numbers. If so many people are using WordPress, it’s a safe bet that WordPress is a good choice for you too.

What Types of Websites Can You Create with WordPress?

WordPress started out as a simple blogging platform back in 2003. But, while WordPress may be best known for blogs, it has since evolved. The types of websites you can create with WordPress are endless.

WordPress offers thousands of free and paid themes and plugins that enable you to completely customize your website for your exact needs. This allows a wide range of business types to use WordPress to build their websites. For instance, popular restaurant group Momofuku uses WordPress for their website.

wordpress-restaurant-website

As you can see, WordPress isn’t just for creating simple blogs. In fact, check out all the different types of websites you can create with WordPress:

So, WordPress is powerful enough to create any type of website you desire.

What are the Pros and Cons of WordPress?

As with any website builder, there are pros and cons that you should look closely at to help determine whether it’s right for you.

So, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using WordPress to make a website.

Pros of Using WordPress:

  • Free – The WordPress software is free to download and use. All you have to pay for is a domain name and web hosting.
  • Freedom and Ownership – WIth WordPress, you have 100% ownership of your website. Plus, you can choose your own web hosting and move your site whenever you want.
  • Complete Customization – WordPress offers thousands of free, beautifully designed WordPress themes. This means you can customize the look of your website exactly to your needs and preferences.
  • Unlimited Plugins – WordPress also offers thousands of plugins, add-ons, and extensions to add extra power and features to your website.
  • Easy Integration – Because WordPress is so popular, you can continue to use your favorite tools with your WordPress site. Most tools and apps integrate easily with WordPress such as email marketing tools, CRM software, payment gateways such as PayPal, and much more.
  • Community – Another benefit of the popularity of WordPress, is the community. The WordPress community is so huge that there’s a ton of forums, tutorials, and websites online (such as IsItWP) where you can learn everything you need to about the software.

Cons of Using WordPress:

  • No Direct Support – While there are many resources online that will help you solve your WordPress issues, they don’t offer any direct support such as email, phone, or live chat support.
  • Slight Learning Curve – WordPress is fairly easy to use overall. But, there is a slight learning curve to becoming familiar and comfortable using the software because of the lack of a drag and drop builder. Luckily, you can use drag and drop WordPress page builders to make it easier.
  • Maintenance and Security – When using WordPress, you’re responsible for the maintenance and security of your website, while other website builders handle this for you. This means you need to update WordPress on a regular basis and use WordPress security plugins to keep your site secure.

How to Use WordPress to Create a Website

Now that you know a little more about what WordPress is, let’s take a closer look at some of WordPress’ features that allow you to easily make a website.

There are 3 main elements of WordPress:

WordPress is designed so that you can create, manage, and edit each element separately without affecting the rest of your website. So, for instance, if you change the design of your website, all of your content will stay the same and your plugins will still work.

Let’s check out each of these elements for building a WordPress website.

1. Customizing Your Website Appearance with WordPress

When making a website with WordPress, you get access to thousands of free WordPress themes that are able to give your website a professional look in an instant. Simply browse WordPress themes to find one that matches your brand and with 1 click your site is transformed.

wordpress-themes-wordpress-review

Most WordPress themes are highly-customizable as well. Of course, you’re able to edit the theme text and add your own images and logo. But, many themes also allow you to change theme colors, layouts, fonts, and much more.

customize-wordpress-themes

There are also many third-party premium WordPress themes available on the market. So, if you want a higher-quality theme that not everyone is able to get, you have that option as well.

Alternatively, you can use a drag and drop page builder like Beaver Builder to create a custom theme that’s all your own.

2. Adding Content to Your WordPress Website

Next, you can easily add content to your WordPress website such as web pages and blog posts, using the WordPress post editor.

Whether you’re creating a page or a post, the WordPress editor looks the exact same. You can use the visual editor, like in the image below, or you can use the text editor which allows you to format your posts by adding HTML.

wordpress-create-content

The screenshot above shows the classic WordPress content editor, but recently in WordPress 5.0, the Gutenberg block editor was released. This is what the new block editor looks like:

creating-content-gutenberg-wordpress

WordPress’ Gutenberg block editor is different from the classic editor because you add blocks of content elements to create a content layout.

For example, you can add blocks for headings, paragraphs, images, lists, columns, buttons, and much more.

gutenberg-blocks

By default, Gutenberg starts you off with a heading and a paragraph block. But to add a new block, simply click on the add new block button. The add new block buttons show up in the top left hand corner of the editor, on the left side of a block, or below an existing block.

adding-content-blocks-gutenberg-wordpress

Each block also has its own toolbar and settings for formatting. For instance, with a paragraph block you have options such as bold, italic, text alignment, and more.

gutenberg-block-toolbar

If you want to use the classic WordPress content editor instead of Gutenberg, check out this tutorial on how to disable Gutenberg and keep the classic editor in WordPress.

So, does WordPress have a drag and drop builder? As we mentioned previously, WordPress does not have a drag and drop builder. But adding images, video, bulleted lists, and other elements is as easy as 1 click of a button.

If you’d still prefer to use a drag and drop builder to create content, you can install a drag and drop builder plugin such as Beaver Builder, Divi, or Elementor.

3. Using WordPress Plugins

Lastly, with WordPress plugins you can take your website to the next level. WordPress offers thousands of free plugins that you can use to add extra features to your website. And with over 55,000 plugins at the time of writing this article, almost anything you can think of will be available in the form of a plugin.

wordpress-plugins-wordpress-review

Plus, plugins are very easy to download and use. They’re just like apps that you add to your mobile phone. Simply download the plugin and voila, you’ve got something new for your website.

There are a number of WordPress plugins that are must-haves for any type of website, including:

  • Yoast SEO – Boost the online presence of your website and get more traffic.
  • WPForms – Generate leads and connect with customers with a contact form on your website.
  • OptinMonster – Grow your email list and generate more leads with popups.
  • MonsterInsights – Track your website traffic and other analytics right from your WordPress dashboard.
  • Shared Counts – Increase engagement and shares on social media.
  • WP Rocket – Speed up your website.
  • UpdraftPlus – Backup your website.

WordPress also has plugins that allow you to transform a regular website into a powerful website. For example, if you want to create an online store, you can use an eCommerce plugin like WooCommerce, which is the most popular eCommerce solution for WordPress. Or you can create a membership site, where users have to pay monthly for access, using a plugin like MemberPress.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to WordPress plugins.

Is WordPress Free?

As we previously mentioned, WordPress is free to download and use. But, in order to build a website that’s live on the internet for other people to see, you do need to register a domain name and choose web hosting.

A domain name is your website’s address (URL) on the internet. For instance, our domain name is www.IsItWP.com. It’s what users type in their browsers to visit your website.

Web hosting is where your site lives on the internet. This space on the internet is where your website’s files and content are stored. When a user types in your website address in their browser, they’ll be taken to your website that you’ve set up with the web hosting provider.

Typically, a domain name costs around $14.99/year and web hosting costs about $7.99/month. This can be a bit costly to some people, especially if you’re just starting out.

That’s why we recommend Bluehost. We’ve worked out an awesome Bluehost deal for IsItWP readers. You can get a free domain name and over 60% off on web hosting. That means you can make a website for as low as $2.75/month!

bluehost-website

Plus, Bluehost is one the best WordPress hosting companies. They power over 2 million websites worldwide and it’s officially recommended by WordPress.org. Bluehost also offers 1-click WordPress installation, so it’s super easy to install and start building your website right away.

Click here to Claim this Exclusive Bluehost Offer »

Using WordPress and Bluehost is one of the most affordable ways to build a website.

WordPress Review: Is it the Best Website Builder For You?

WordPress is the most popular website builder on the market for a reason. With WordPress you have complete control over your website and you’re able to customize it in any way you choose.

Consider using WordPress if you want to build a professional-looking website without spending a lot of money or you want to start a blog and make money online with it. If you just want to start a website for fun and not monetize it, you can choose a free website builder or blogging platform.

Also, consider ease of use before deciding. If you’re able to follow online tutorials to learn the basics, then go with WordPress. Once you get the hang of it, creating a website is simple. But, if you’re not interested in following tutorials and learning, it might be better for you to choose another website builder.

We hope this WordPress review helped you decide whether WordPress is the best choice for you. Although WordPress is our top recommendation for making a website or a blog, we understand it’s not right for everyone. If you enjoyed this article, check out our other post on how to Install WordPress (step by step).



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How to Create A Question and Answers Site in WordPress

Do you want to build an online question and answer community like StackOverflow or Quora? Question and answer websites are fun, highly engaging, and very helpful.

These websites make money from user-generated content which makes them an easy to start online business.

In this article, we will show you how to easily create a question and answers site in WordPress without any programming skills.

You can create a whole site dedicated to Q & A, a single FAQ page, or add a question and answer section to your existing WordPress site.

Making a question and answers site in WordPress

Gettings Started with Question and Answers Website

To start your own question and answers website, you will need the following items.

  • A domain name (This is your website’s address on the internet. Example, wpbeginner.com)
  • A web hosting account (This is where your website’s files are stored. All websites need web hosting).
  • Question And Answers Add-on for WordPress

A domain name costs around $14.99 / year and web hosting prices start from $7.99 per month (usually paid annually).

Now, this is not a small amount if you are just starting out.

Luckily, Bluehost has agreed to offer WPBeginner users discount on web hosting and a free domain name. Basically, you can get started for $2.75 per month.

→ Click Here to Claim This Exclusive Bluehost Offer ←

Bluehost is one of the largest hosting companies in the world and an officially recommended WordPress hosting provider.

After you have purchased hosting, they will automatically install WordPress for you. You can also do it yourself, by following our complete WordPress installation tutorial.

Once you have WordPress installed, you can move on to installing a question and answers plugin. WordPress plugins are extensions that allow you to add new features to your website.

That being said, let’s take a look at how to set up questions and answers website in WordPress.

Setting up Your Question and Answers Site

The first thing you need to do is install and activate the DW Question Answers plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin creates two new pages in your WordPress site:

  • DWQA Questions – This page will display all questions.
  • DWQA Ask Question – This page contains a form where users can ask new questions.

The title and URLs of these pages contain DWQA which looks bad. Let’s change this.

Head over to Pages » All Pages and click Quick Edit link below each page.

Question and Answer pages

This will show page details for quick editing. You can remove the DWQA from page title and slug fields and then click on the ‘Update’ button to save your changes.

Change page title and slug

The next thing you need to do is to allow user registration on your website. This can be achieved by going to Settings » General page.

Scroll down to the ‘Membership’ section and check the box next to Anyone can register. Make sure that you choose Subscriber as the new user default role.

Open your site for user registration

Now that user registration is enabled, let’s configure the plugin settings.

Start by going to Questions » Settings page. Under the General tab, you can configure the basic plugin settings.

Settings page

First, you need to choose the page that will display the Ask Question form and another page that will List All Questions. You will notice that the default pages are already selected here.

If you want to display some other pages, then you need to copy and paste the shortcodes shown on the settings page to those pages.

Under the Question settings section, you can select the number of questions you want to be displayed on the questions page. You can also enable ‘Moderation’ by requiring each question to be manually approved.

The plugin also comes with built-in spam protection features. You can enable the Akismet anti-spam feature and provide the Akismet API key.

Anti-spam features

You can also use reCAPTCHA to protect your question and answer forum from automated spam bots.

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.

Next, you need to switch to the ‘Email’ tab. From here you can upload your logo and modify the email notifications sent by the plugin.

Email notifications

After that, switch to the ‘Permissions’ tab. From here you can set up user role permissions. By default, the plugin allows administrators and editors to read, post, write and edit all questions and answers.

Set up permissions

The plugin also allows anonymous users to ask questions. You can change that from permissions settings.

Once you are satisfied with plugin settings, don’t forget to click on the ‘Save changes’ button to save your changes.

Managing Your Question Answer Site

You can view all questions added to your site by visiting DW Q&A » All Questions page. As an administrator, you can edit or delete any questions submitted by any user on your site.

You can also add Question categories since users do not have permissions to create categories. However, users can add question tags when submitting a question on your site. To understand the difference check out our guide on Categories vs Tags.

Managing questions on your website

The Front End Features of Your Q&A Site

DW Question Answers is designed to work with most WordPress themes. This is how your questions page will look:

Preview of questions page

Questions can be searched or sorted by status, categories, views, and answers. Your users post questions, submit answers, and add their own comments. Users can also follow questions by clicking on the star icon next to each question.

Single question page with answers

The user who has asked the question and the site administrator has the ability to mark a question as resolved. Users can also vote for answers, choose the best answer, and add comments to the questions and answers as well. This provides a much deeper interaction platform for your users to engage in discussions around the question topic.

Mark solution and set status to resolved

This plugin is free and performs very well during our tests. There are several Question and Answer WordPress themes out there, but those lock you into using that theme forever.

The advantage of using a plugin is that you can switch your theme without losing any data.

We hope this article helped you build your own Q&A community on your WordPress site. You may also want to see our guide on how to increase traffic on your new WordPress website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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How to Easily Add Custom CSS to Your WordPress Site

Sometimes you may find yourself needing to add Custom CSS in your WordPress site. Perhaps it’s because you’re following a tutorial on WPBeginner. If using FTP is too confusing, then there is an easier way to add CSS on your site. In this article, we will show you how to add custom CSS to your WordPress site without editing any theme files.

Video Tutorial

Subscribe to WPBeginner

If you don’t like video tutorials or want to move at your own pace, then continue reading the instructions below.

Method 1: Adding Custom CSS Using Theme Customizer

Since WordPress 4.7, users can now add custom CSS directly from WordPress admin area. This is super-easy and you would be able to see your changes with a live preview instantly.

Head over to Themes » Customize page.

Launching theme customizer in WordPress

This will launch the WordPress theme customizer interface.

You will see your site’s live preview with a bunch of options on the left pane. Click on the Additional CSS tab from the left pane.

Additional CSS option in Theme Customizer

The tab will slide to show you a simple box where you can add your custom CSS. As soon as you add a valid CSS rule, you will be able to see it applied on your website’s live preview pane.

Adding custom CSS in theme customizer

You can continue adding custom CSS code, until you are satisfied with how it looks on your site.

Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save & Publish’ button on the top when you are finished.

Note: Any custom CSS that you add using theme customizer is only available with that particular theme. If you would like to use it with other themes, then you will need to copy and paste it to your new theme using the same method.

Method 2: Adding Custom CSS Using a Plugin

This method requires you to install a plugin. It is particularly useful for users who are not using WordPress 4.7 or later versions of WordPress.

First thing you need to do is install and activate the Simple Custom CSS plugin. Upon activation simply go to Appearance » Custom CSS and write down or paste your custom CSS.

Simple Custom CSS

Don’t forget to press the ‘Update Custom CSS’ button to store your CSS.

You can now view your website to see the custom CSS in action.

Note: Another advantage of using this method is that your custom CSS will be available even when you change your theme.

Using a Custom CSS plugin vs Adding CSS in Theme

Both methods described above are recommended for beginners. Advanced users can also add custom CSS directly to their themes.

However, adding custom CSS snippets into your parent theme is not recommended. Your CSS changes will be lost if you accidentally update the theme without saving your custom changes.

The best approach is to use a child theme instead. However, many beginners don’t want to create a child theme. Apart from adding custom CSS they really don’t know how they will be using that child theme.

Using a custom CSS plugin allows you to store your custom CSS independant from your theme. This way you can easily switch themes and your custom CSS will still be there.

Another great way to add custom CSS to your WordPress site is by using the CSS Hero plugin. This wonderful plugin allows you to edit almost everything in your WordPress site without writing a single line of code.

Editing custom CSS with CSS Hero plugin for WordPress

We hope this article helped add custom css to your WordPress site. You may also want to see how our guide on how to create a site-specific WordPress plugin to store your custom code snippets.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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How to Create a Multilingual WordPress Site with WPML

Do you want to make your website available in multiple languages? By default, WordPress does not come with features required to create a proper multilingual site. That’s why in this tutorial, we will show you how to create a multilingual WordPress site with the popular WPML plugin.

Creating multilingual WordPress site with WPML

Why Create a Multilingual WordPress Site Using WPML?

You can use WordPress in any language that you want. It is super easy to create a website in any single language.

Most popular WordPress themes and plugins are also translation ready which makes it easy for anyone in the world to start a WordPress site in their language.

However, by default WordPress can support only one language at a time. What if you wanted to use multiple languages on a site to attact a much wider audience?

Governments, international businesses, and educational institutes often need to offer their website in multiple languages. While machine translations like Google Translate is an option, it’s often not acceptable for most professional organizations.

One way to offer multiple language options is to install WordPress in subdomains for each language. This is a lot of hassle, as you will have to manage updates, and backup all those installations.

WPML (WordPress Multilingual Plugin) solves this problem by allowing your website to become multilingual. You can use the same WordPress installation to create content into many different languages.

It offers an easy to use interface for managing translations. It also adds language switching options for your users.

Having said that, let’s see how you can create a multilingual WordPress website with WPML in minutes.

Creating a Multilingual WordPress Site with WPML

First thing you need to do is install and activate the WPML (WordPress Multi-language) plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Note: WPML is a paid plugin, but it’s by far the most comprehensive option. There is a reason why over 400,000 websites use WPML for creating a multilingual WordPress site.

Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled ‘WPML’ in your WordPress menu. Clicking on it for the first time will take you to plugin’s settings wizard.

WPML Setup - Choose primary language

WPML will automatically detect your WordPress site’s language. You can change it here now if you want.

Click on the next button to continue.

On the next screen, you will be asked to select the languages you want to enable on your site. Simply select the languages from the list that you want to add to your site.

Select languages

You can always add or remove languages later if you need. After selecting your site languages, click on the next button.

Now you will be asked to add a language switcher to your site. This language switcher will allow your users to choose a language to view content in their preferred language.

Language switcher

WPML allows you to automatically add content switcher as a sidebar widget, in your navigation menu, or display as a plain list.

Additionally, you can also choose to select flags or text for language switcher. Once you have made the choice, click on the next button.

As the final step, you will be asked to enter your site key. If you have not generated one yet, then you can click on ‘Generate a key for this site’ button.

Register site key to receive automatic updates

This will take you to WPML website, where you will be asked to add the site you are coming from to your WPML account.

Once your site is added, you can click on it to get to your site key. Copy and paste this key into your WordPress site.

That’s all you have successfully finished the WPML setup wizard. You can now click on the Finish button to exit the setup.

Adding Multilingual Content into WordPress with WPML

WPML makes it really easy to translate every area of your WordPress site into multiple languages.

You will be able to easily translate your WordPress posts, pages, tags, categories, and themes into as many languages as you like.

Adding Multilingual Posts and Pages

Simply click on the posts menu to view your existing posts. You will notice the languages columns next to your post titles.

Adding translation for posts

WPML assumes that your existing content is in your site’s primary language. It will show Add buttons for each language next to your posts. Click on the add button under a language to translate a post.

You can also manage translations by editing a post.

On the post edit screen, you will notice the new ‘Language’ meta box to manage translations.

managing translations from post edit screen in WordPress

You can add translated content yourself or you can add users and authors to your WordPress site and have them translate your content for you.

WPML also offers a better way to manage users who work as translators on your website. If you purchase their Multilingual CMS Plan, then you can use their translation management module.

Translation management module allows you to add users as translators regardless of what role they have on your WordPress site. You can even add subscribers as translators.

Adding translators using translator management module

Instead of editing posts, these translators will be able to add translations directly in WPML.

Adding Translations for Categories and Tags

WPML allows you to easily translate categories and tags, or any other custom taxonomies that you may be using.

Visit WPML » Taxonomy Translation and load the custom taxonomies you want to translate.

For example: in this screenshot we selected categories, and it displayed all categories from our example site.

Taxonomy translate

Click on the add button next to the taxonomy term to add the translation.

Translating Navigation Menus

WordPress comes with a robust navigation menu system. WPML allows you to translate it just like you would translate posts or taxonomies.

Visit Appearance » Menus page on your site. If you have more than one menus, then select the menu you want to translate.

In the right hand column, you will see your menu with links to translate into other languages enabled on your site.

Translate Menus in multilingual WordPress

Clicking on a language will create a new menu for that language. You will need to add the same menu items as in your primary language menu.

Translating a navigation menu

If you have your posts and pages in navigation menus, then you will first need to translate them. After that you can add them from the tabs on the left in edit menu screens.

Don’t forget to click on the save button to save your menu.

Translating Themes, Plugins, & Other Text with WPML

WPML multilingual CMS allows you to choose between official translations of themes and plugins or use its own string translator.

Go to WPML » Themes and plugins localization page.

Load locale files for themes and plugins

By default, you will see ‘Don’t use String Translation to translate the theme and plugins’ checked. Below it, you will see another checkbox to automatically load the theme’s .mo file using ‘load_theme_textdomain’.

You can check this box to see if there are any translation files available for your theme. This works only with themes downloaded from the WordPress.org theme directory.

This setting doesn’t work very well for most websites. Not all WordPress themes and plugins have translations available. In some cases the translations are not good or incomplete.

We recommend using WPML’s String Translation module to properly translate your theme and plugins for your own site.

This module will also allow you to translate custom fields, widgets, and other translatable strings generated by WordPress.

We hope this article helped you learn how to create a WordPress multilingual site with WPML. You may also want to see our list of 40 useful tools to manage and grow your WordPress blog.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



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How to Easily Create a Staging Site for WordPress (Step by Step)

Are you looking to create a staging site for WordPress but not sure where to start?

A WordPress staging site is a test site that you can use to “safely” make plugin updates and other changes before going live.

In the past, it used to be very difficult to setup a WordPress staging site, but now that has changed so even a non-technical person can do it.

In this step by step guide, we will show you how to easily create a staging environment for your WordPress site. We will cover several different methods and most of them only require a few clicks.

How to create a staging site for WordPress

What is a Staging Site?

A staging site is a clone of your live website that is used for testing changes before making them live. Staging sites help you catch errors, so you don’t end up breaking your live website.

A lot of users install WordPress locally on their Windows or Mac computers to test changes. Once they’re done with the updates, they simply upload those changes from localhost to live server

The biggest problem with this approach is what if something that worked on your localhost does not work on the live server?

Often localhost and live WordPress hosting servers are not running the same environment.

Since the staging site lives on your web hosting server, you can easily prevent all those errors because it runs the same server configuration as your live site.

With that said, let’s take a look at how to setup a staging site for WordPress.

How to Easily Create a WordPress Staging Site

There are multiple ways to create a staging site for WordPress. The easiest of them is to use your hosting provider’s built-in staging site feature.

Some of the best WordPress hosting companies already offer 1-click staging websites. If your website is hosted with one of them, then you can easily create a staging site without any hassle.

If you’re not with one of these popular hosting solutions, then we also have a solution to help you create a WordPress staging site using a plugin (and even manually).

For faster browsing, you can use the navigation below to jump to the section that’s most applicable to you:

Creating A Staging Site on Bluehost

Bluehost is one of the best WordPress hosting companies. They offer a quick 1-click staging site solution which comes with all their plans.

First, you need to login to your WordPress site’s admin area and go to Bluehost » Staging page.

Staging site option on Bluehost

This will bring you to the Bluehost’s staging site wizard. Next, you need to click on the ‘Create Staging Site’ button to continue.

Create staging site on Bluehost

Bluehost will now prepare the staging environment for your website. Once finished, you will see a success message with a link to visit your staging site.

Go to your staging site

Now, you can click on the ‘Go to staging site’ button to continue.

You will reach the admin area of your staging WordPress site. You will see a red button on top of the admin bar to indicate that you are working in the staging environment.

You can go ahead and work on your website without worrying about it affecting your live site.

Deploying changes from staging to live site on Bluehost

Once you are ready to push changes from staging to the live site, simply go to Bluehost » Staging page.

Deploy staging to live website on Bluehost

Scroll to the Deployment Options section. You will see three options for deployment. You can deploy only the files, only the database, or both files and database.

If you’re not sure, then click on the Deploy Files and Database button to deploy all changes from the staging environment.

This will bring up a popup where you will be asked to confirm that you want to deploy the staging site to the production site. Click on ‘Yes, Let’s Deploy’ button to continue.

Confirm deploy

Bluehost will now start deploying your staging site to the live site. Depending on the size of your website, this may take a while.

The pop up will automatically disappear when deployment is over. You can now visit your live website to see the changes applied to your production site.

Creating a Staging Site on SiteGround

SiteGround is another top WordPress hosting company offering 1-click staging feature with their GrowBig and GoGeek plans. If your website is hosted with SiteGround, then this is how you would set up a staging website.

First, you need to login to your SiteGround cPanel dashboard. Next, scroll down to the ‘WordPress Tools’ section and then click on the Staging icon.

Staging icon in SiteGround cPanel

This will bring you to the staging sites page. From here, you need to add your website to the staging site manager. Once you’re done, click on the ‘Add WordPress’ button to continue.

Add site to staging manager

On the next screen, you need to select the URL where your website is installed. If your WordPress site is installed in a sub-directory, then you can add that in the field next to it and click on the Add URL button to move forward.

Select URL

The staging site manager will detect your website and add it to the page. You can now click on the ‘Create Staging Copy’ button to continue.

Create staging site copy

You will see a popup that allows you to password protect your staging site. This is a good idea because it prevents others from accessing your site. It also prevents Google from indexing duplicate content.

Go ahead and provide a username / password and then click ‘Continue’.

Password protect staging site

SiteGround will now create the staging environment for your WordPress website.

Once it’s done, you will see the staging site manager with links to the admin area of your staging site. Go ahead and start working on your WordPress staging site.

After you are done making changes to your website, you can push it live by going to the staging page in cPanel. You need to click on the ‘Manage Staging Copies’ button next to your website.

Manage staging copies

On the next page, you can click on the ‘Push to live’ button to push changes from staging to your live website.

Deploy staging to live

Creating a Staging Site on WP Engine

WP Engine is the best WordPress managed hosting company in the world. Managed WordPress hosting is a concierge service for your WordPress site where the hosting provider takes care of updates, backups, security and performance.

WP Engine offers one-click staging solution with all their plans. If you are using WP Engine to host your website, then this is how you would set up a staging environment for your site.

First, you need to login to your WP Engine dashboard. Next, go to the Sites page and select your website by clicking on it.

Sites WP Engine

This will bring you to your website dashboard. Now, you need to click on the Add Staging link from the left column.

Add staging site in WP Engine

On the next screen, you need to enter a name for your staging site under the ‘Create New’ tab. This name will also be the subdomain of your staging site.

Create new staging site

Click on the Create Environment button to continue.

WP Engine will now create a staging site for you. However, this staging environment is just an empty WordPress site that does not have any content of your live website.

Let’s change this.

Switch to your production environment by clicking on production from the left column. On the next screen, click on the Copy to button at the top right corner of the screen.

Copy to staging

Next, you will be asked to select the backup point you want to use for your staging site. If unsure, select the most recent back up of your website.

Select back up point

Click on the preview copy button to continue.

You will see a warning popup informing you that you are copying the source website to the staging environment. Click on the Copy Environment button to proceed.

Copy website warning

WP Engine will now copy your live website to the staging environment. You will recieve an email notification when it is done.

After that, you can login to your staging website using the same admin username and password as your live website.

Deploying Staging to Live Website on WP Engine

When you are ready to push the changes from your WordPress staging site to live site, first you will need to create a backup point for your staging site.

A backup point is just like saving your progress in a game. You need to create one before deploying your staging site’s changes to the live site.

Simply head over to WP Engine dashboard and click on Staging » Backup Points menu from the left column.

Create a backup point for your staging website

Next, provide a description for your backup so you can remember the changes later, and then click on ‘Create staging backup’ button.

Create backup of your staging site

WP Engine will now create a backup point for your website. You will receive an email notification when your backup is complete.

You are now ready to deploy your staging site.

Simply click on the ‘Copy to’ button at the top right corner of the screen and select ‘Production’.

Copy to production

Next, you will be asked to select a backup point. This time select the backup you created earlier and click on the preview button.

Select back up point

You will see a warning message, but go ahead and click on the ‘Copy Environment’ button to proceed.

Copying environment

WP Engine will now copy your staging environment to your live website. You will recieve an email notification when it is complete.

After that, you can log in to your live website to ensure everything is working fine, and it should because you tested all your changes on staging.

Creating A Staging Site using WordPress Plugin

If your WordPress hosting company does not provide a staging site feature, then you can still create a staging website using a WordPress plugin.

There are some disadvantages to using this method.

First, a plugin would have limited control on your hosting server. This is why it may not always give the best results.

Secondly, the plugin we will be using will store your staging site on their own servers. If you are concerned about privacy and data protection, then this may not be the ideal situation for you.

That being said, let’s see how to create a staging WordPress site using a WordPress plugin.

The first thing that you need to do is install and activate the WP Stagecoach plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, the plugin will add a new menu item labeled WP Stagecoach to your admin bar. Clicking on it will take you to plugin’s settings page.

WP Stagecoach settings

You will need to enter your WP Stagecoach username and the API key which you can find under your account on the plugin website.

After that, you will be able to create your staging website.

You need to provide a name for your staging site. This name will also be used as the subdomain of your WordPress staging website.

Don’t forget to check the box next to ‘Password protect the staging site’ option. It will protect your staging website from public view and search engines.

Create staging site using WP Stagecoach

Next, click on the ‘Ride The Stagecoach’ button to continue.

The plugin will now create a backup of your WordPress files and database to export them for your staging site. Once finished, you will see the link to your staging site, and its admin area.

You can click the link to visit your staging site and start working on it.

Deploying Staging Site to Live Using WP Stagecoach

Once you are ready to import changes to your live site, head over to WP Stagecoach » Import Changes page and click on the check for changes button.

The plugin will now check for changes on your staging site and then show you options to import them.

Impoting changes from staging

You can select to import only file changes, only database changes, or all changes. Next, click on the import button to continue.

The plugin will show you the progress of the import and will notify you when it is done. You can now test your live site to see if all changes were successfully imported.

Create a Staging Site for WordPress Manually

This method requires you to manually create a staging site for your WordPress install. It is for advanced users and requires more work than other methods described above.

Another disadvantage of this method is that your website will be temporarily unavailable when deploying changes back from staging to live server.

That being said, let’s see how to manually create a staging environment for your WordPress site.

First, you need to create a subdomain for your staging website. Go to your hosting account’s dashboard and click on the Subdomains link located under the domains section.

Create subdomain for your staging site

Note: We’re using Bluehost in our example screenshot, so your screen may look different.

Provide a name for your subdomain (for example, staging) and then click on the create button.

Your hosting control panel will now add your subdomain, which you can use to import your live WordPress site.

Next, you need to install and activate the Duplicator plugin on your live site.

Upon activation, you need to click on the Duplicator menu in your WordPress admin sidebar and click on the create new button.

Create Duplicator package

After that, you will be asked to click on the Next button to continue.

Duplicator will now run the website duplicator wizard. First, it will run some tests to see if everything is in order. If all items are marked ‘Good’, then click on the ‘Build’ button.

Build package

The plugin will now start creating a duplicator package of your WordPress site. This process may take a few minutes depending on the size of your website.

Once finished, you’ll see download options for Installer and the Archive package. You need to click on the ‘One click download’ link to download both files on your computer.

Download and package and installer files

Your new staging WordPress site will need a new database. Let’s create one.

Head over to your WordPress hosting account’s control panel and click on MySQL Databases icon located under the Databases section.

MySQL Database

On the next screen, provide a name for your database and then click on the create database button.

Create database

Next, you need to create a MySQL user for your database. Scroll down to the MySQL Users section and provide a username and password for your new database user.

Create MySQL user

Now you need to give this user permissions to access and modify the database you created earlier. Simply scroll down to the ‘Add user to database’ section and select your database and the user you just created.

Add user to database

After that, click on the ‘Add’ button to continue.

You will be asked to select privileges for the user. Go ahead and select ‘All Privileges’ checkbox and then click on the ‘Make changes’ button.

Grant privileges

Now your database is ready to be used for your staging website.

Next, you need to open a new browser tab and visit enter the subdomain of your staging site like this:

https://yoursubdomain.example.com/installer.php

Don’t forget to replace yoursubdomain with the actual subdomain and example.com with your own domain name.

This will launch the Duplicator installer wizard.

Duplicator installer wizard

The installer will look for the archive file. You need to check the terms and conditions checkbox and click on the next button to continue.

Now, the installer will ask you to enter your WordPress database information.

Your host will likely be localhost. After that, you will enter the details of the database you created for your new domain name in the earlier step.

Connect database

Once done, click on the next button to continue.

Duplicator will now unpack your WordPress database backup from the archive into your new database.

Next, it will ask you to update the site URL or Path. You shouldn’t have to change anything since it automatically detects the URL of your new subdomain and its path.

If it doesn’t, then you can change the URL to your new subdomain. After that, click on the next button to continue.

Update URLs if needed

Duplicator will now finish the migration.

You can click on the ‘Admin Login’ button to enter the WordPress admin area of your website on the new staging site.

Now you have your staging site set up. Let’s protect it by adding password protection to your subdomain.

Head over to your hosting account’s cPanel dashboard and click on the directory privacy icon.

Directory privacy

Next, you need to select your subdomain folder and then select the option to ‘password protect this directory’ checkbox. You will be asked to provide a name for this setting, and then enter a username and password.

Password protect your staging site

Click on the save button to store your settings. Your staging site will now be hidden behind the password protection.

You can now work on your staging site and make any changes you want.

Manually Deploy Staging Site to Live

After you are ready to deploy changes from your staging site to the live server, you will follow the same steps described above.

Simply create a new Duplicator package on your staging site and download the Installer and Archive files to your computer.

Next, you need to head over to your live site and create a complete WordPress backup (you can use Duplicator to create a complete backup as well).

Once you are done, you will need to delete all WordPress files and folders from your live website. This means your WordPress site will be down for a while.

Finally, follow the instructions above to run the Duplicator installer wizard to import staging site to live server.

As you can see, the last method is not the best method at all. You should avoid this at all costs. We recommend using a reliable hosting provider like Bluehost, SiteGround, or WP Engine that offers built-in staging site features.

We hope this article helped you learn how to easily create a staging environment for your WordPress site. If you run into any issues, check out our ultimate guide to fixing the most common WordPress errors.

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