Online presence is not a “set it and forget it” type of deal. To get the most out of having a presence on the web, consistent management is required. As your business, target audience, industry, and the web change, your online presence must change as well.
This means that you’ll need to make updates to the appearance, functionality, and content of your website. Yet, that can be tricky to do. Why is that and, more importantly, what can help you to modify your site successfully?
A staging site—also known as a testing site, development site, or sandbox—is a private copy of your live website. It provides an environment in which you can implement and test the changes you want to make without impacting your live site.
Staging sites solve two common problems that can arise when making modifications to a website.
When making changes on your live site directly, there’s always an element of risk. Things can break and your user experience can suffer (even as a result of small changes).
In turn, site visitors may become frustrated and leave your site quickly. They may even be unable to access it at all. In either case, this can be an obstacle to your business goals and negatively impact your website’s SEO.
By making changes to your staging site first, though, you can ensure that there will be no issues before updating the live version.
Without the threat of negative repercussions, you’re free to test creative new ideas to determine whether or not they will be viable. And you can do this testing not just from your perspective, but from that of your end-users. By going through the flow of your site, experiencing it exactly as actual site visitors would, you can:
It’s far safer to experiment, make mistakes, and implement potential solutions on a staging site than it is to take the trial and error route with your audience-facing website. Working out the kinks beforehand skyrockets the potential for positive results immediately upon release!
The second problem addressed by testing sites is downtime. If you’re making extensive changes or encounter a problem while performing updates, your website may be unavailable for some time. And who knows how many opportunities you’ll miss out on in the interim?
Even if you have a well-thought-out maintenance page that encourages users to engage, it’s highly unlikely to be as persuasive as your full website. And you can’t count on users who are unable to access your site to visit it again in the future. By then, they may have moved on to engage with your competitors.
Besides this, significant downtime can negatively impact your SEO, which can decrease the online visibility of your business. So not only will serious downtime make it more difficult for potential customers to find you in search results, but the ones who do may be lost forever.
Testing changes via a staging site can reveal whether you’ll be able to update the live version of your site successfully and quickly. It will give you a practice run of the process for making site updates. Plus, it’ll allow you to anticipate problems so that you can solve them quickly when it’s time to update your live site for all to see.
Now that you know what a staging site is and what it’s good for, it’s important to know how to create one in HubSpot. Here are the basic steps:
From there, you’ll be able to edit and add pages on your staging site. You can either:
HubSpot provides straightforward instructions on how to use the content staging dashboard and deploy staged pages. Also, if you need a hand or have questions, you’re welcome to contact our team for help.
As you now know, a testing site reduces risk when it comes to updating your website. Because you can troubleshoot issues in advance, it cuts down on downtime when rolling out changes visible to the public. What’s more, a staging site allows you to evaluate the impact your changes will have once they go live.
Surely you’d agree that content staging is worthwhile. That said, if you’re thinking about making updates to your website in the near future, you’d be wise to create yours now.