If you are a frequent reader of WP Mods then you will have seen screenshots of my WordPress test area in many articles, particularly in plugin related posts. I use my test WordPress installation every week and today I will be showing why you need to install another copy of WordPress for testing purposes.
Editing Your Theme
I always back my theme up on my computer though I usually upload the theme to my test area too. This allows me to edit the design and mess about with things without worrying about something being broken on the live site. It’s then just a matter of copying the changed files from the test blog to the live blog (I usually just copy and paste if only one or two files have been edited).
If you are just doing a simple edit like changing a link then you should just do it on the live site. Though if you are changing CSS styling or dimensions of something like your footer, header or widgets; then you should do so in your test area first.
I always test new plugins in my test blog first. This is really quick and easy to do as you can install plugins from the official directory directly from your admin area.
Testing plugins allows you to check their compatibility before installing them on your live site. It’s important to do this as plugin development does not always match the speed of official WordPress releases, therefore the plugin might not work with the latest version of WordPress.
Plugins also frequently clash with other plugins so it’s necessary to see how the plugin works with other plugins you have installed. To do this, make sure your WordPress test site has the same plugins installed as your live site.
Testing Beta Releases
A WordPress test site is great for testing the latest beta releases of WordPress. Some people install beta releases on their main blog however I would discourage this as beta releases are always buggy and usually have compatibility issues with some plugins.
I am aware that most of you don’t have a test area of WordPress though I encourage you to set one up in a sub domain, sub folder, or separate domain. For me it’s an important part of using WordPress as it allows me to update my blogs without the risk of them getting messed up due to a CSS class change or installation of a plugin.
As always, if you are unsure about anything please let me know :)