Staging vs Production - What is the difference and why is it necessary?

10 December 2023
3 min read

When it comes to website development, we often use the terms ‘staging site’ and ‘production site’. If you are unfamiliar with website development, you may be confused when web developers and agencies move quickly between staging and production sites. In this article, we will explain how we, as a web design agency, work between staging and production sites and why a staging site is so critical.

Staging site

Staging refers to the process whereby we ‘stage’ and put together a new site and use it to review before pushing it to ‘live’, in other words, it is a pre-production environment used for testing, quality assurance, and development purposes before deploying changes or updates to the live website. This is usually a safe environment whereby members of the public will not accidentally chance upon the site and see it, whether by search or by URL. Other commonly used terms to replace ‘staging sites’ are ‘demo site’, ‘test site’, etc.

The staging site closely mimics the production environment but is isolated from the live site. Developers and testers use it to experiment and test new features, updates, or fixes without affecting the live site. It also allows for thorough testing of changes, ensuring they work as expected before being pushed to the production environment.

Production site

On the other hand, the production site refers to the final launch destination where the live version or the actual website is hosted for public use and accessible to users. This is a ‘live’ environment in which, at any time, members of the public may be looking at the URL. Other commonly used terms to replace ‘production sites’ are ‘live site’, ‘actual site’, etc.

The production site hosts the real-time version of the website, containing live data, user interactions, transactions, etc. Hence, it is crucial that it remains stable and reliable to ensure uninterrupted access for users. Security measures are stringent here to protect user data and the website from potential threats.

Why staging is necessary

Staging is critical for web development as a web developer cannot simply develop a new site on his local machine and leave it there without the client or the stakeholders reviewing it. The client and stakeholders will always need to review the new site, and usually, the review needs to happen more than once. It is not practical to have to go down to the web developer’s office just to review the site, especially in cross-country development work. Hence, the staging site becomes an important tool for achieving this goal.

Usually, for matured and established URLs, there is no way you can build a WIP website on the live URL. For example, There is already a functional and working website up on the live site, so when we want to work on a new version of the website, where there may be incomplete content, untested design, and potential functional bugs, it will be damaging to our brand image should we put it up directly on for our review.

Hence, utilizing a staging environment, even for seemingly simple projects, can offer benefits in terms of allowing for testing, minimizing errors, and ensuring a smoother deployment process. Even if not mandatory, a staging site can provide a layer of safety and assurance when implementing changes to any web project, regardless of its size or complexity.

Interested in finding out more?

If you have any queries on the article, Oangle is here to help! Drop us a line, and our team of developers and web designers will advise you with their highly experienced skills and solve any issues you might be facing.

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