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The Importance of having a Test Area for WordPress

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The Importance of having a Test Area for WordPressIf 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.

Testing Plugins

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 :)


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Comments (9)

Comment by Jenny says:

I’m starting to find this need to have a test blog to be very true. I broke my story blog once when i first set it up. And since then I have had a few problems with plugins or my theme. Thanks for this article.

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Yes that would work. Just make sure you set the time/dates etc afterwards.

Failing that, you could simply copy and paste your posts from your test site.

Comment by Arlene says:

Thanks, Kevin! I really appreciate it. You do bring up a good point of not sharing the database.

Is it also the same if I create content on the test site prior to pushing the site live?

I wanted to create everything on the test site first and then when everything is approved then I wanted to push live. So that would just mean I would export my posts from my test and re-import to the live site, correct?

Comment by Arlene says:

Hi Kevin, I totally agree with you that a test area is very important, especially when needing to make updates.

For your test area, did you install a completely separate wordpress? I’m wondering if you know of a way to have a test area and live site that uses the same database (have same content) so I can see both on test are with actual live content before pushing any updats or changes live?

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Yes I use a separate wordpress installation. I strongly encourage you not to share a database of a test site with a live site. It defeats the point of having a test area.

By it’s very nature, a test area should be separate so that you can mess about with things and try things out. Therefore you cannot take the risk of messing up the main site.

All you need to do is export the posts from your main site and restore them in your test site.


Comment by How to Install WordPress Locally says:

[…] few weeks ago I spoke about the importance of having a test area for WordPress so that you can test plugins and develop themes without worrying about anything messing up on your […]

Comment by Amor says:

Oh, I see. You’re right! I never thought of having it installed in my sub domain, but now I will so I can access it anywhere.Thanks for the tip. :)

Comment by Kevin Muldoon says:

Yeah it’s handy to have it installed locally too as it’s handy if your internet connection goes down. I prefer to install my test blog online so that I can access it from any laptop and in any place.

Comment by Amor says:

I agree with you about having test area for WP. I have WP installed in my PC. It saves me a lot of time because I don’t have to upload the modified files just to see the changes.

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