At Pragmatic, we’ve always worked hard to make sure we’re giving you the best WordPress hosting and maintenance support services we can. The service we offer is fundamentally the same today as it was three years ago (albeit with a few changes under the surface) but recently we’ve been working on ways we can improve that service.

One really important change we’re making is the way we provide your staging site.

Until now we’ve used a totally standalone WordPress installation that’s a more-or-less up-to-date copy of your live site (taken at the time the site goes live) both for use with WordPress updates and to test new features. From now, we’ll make use of the WP Engine staging site facility for the updates process.

Why are we making these changes?

  • WP Engine recently announced that they are now backing up staging sites – this was a key factor in us not using this facility before.
  • The WP Engine staging site technology has matured and we feel confident using it.
  • Your staging site will be a more current reflection of your live site.
  • Resources that were previously used by your staging site can be diverted to your live site.
  • An increase in the hosting costs we pay can be partly offset by divesting of the staging sites.
  • These changes set a foundation for further improvement in the future through further automation.

What are the implications for you?

  • No overall change in hosting costs. We’ll no longer bill you specifically for the staging site but your website hosting costs will now include both live and staging site costs, so the cost to you will remain the same.
  • You’ll need to update any bookmarks you have for your staging site to the new URL (which we’ll tell you about in due course).
  • If you already use the WP Engine staging site, we’ll need to work together to ensure changes you’re working on don’t impact on maintenance and that maintenance doesn’t impact on your changes. As the staging environment can be created by any user with administration privileges on your site, you shouldn’t rely on this as the only copy of the content.
  • If we’re releasing new features, we may be able to do this using the WP Engine staging site system, or we may spin up a development site as needed.
  • If you’re running a WordPress multisite, we’ll continue to maintain a separate install for your staging environment. Multisite installs are more complex and some functionality such as domain mapping can’t be tested in the WP Engine staging environment.  Additionally, the maintenance process has additional work so we’ll need to discuss how this works separately with you.
  • Where you have WooCommerce, email campaigns or any other user interaction, we need to ensure that the staging environment functions correctly, but doesn’t incorrectly process any payments or sends any emails to clients. WooCommerce already has tools in place to stop this happening but certain plugins may require additional attention.

When will this all happen?

As per the overall changes to your hosting, we’ll be rolling this change out in batches and we’ll be in touch directly before we do anything. You can find out more in our WordPress hosting update.

How often do we update your site?

Usually, once a month we’ll clone the live site to the staging environment, update everything and ask you to check the site is functioning correctly.

Occasionally, a security update is required which means that we may need to run this additionally to the standard maintenance process. If a threat is particularly severe / easy to implement, we may update the live site without informing you first; our first priority here is to ensure the continued operation of your site. In most cases, a security update doesn’t introduce any new functionality so shouldn’t change how the site runs.

We’ll be in touch with you individually to talk through your options and keep you posted as this work progresses. Please do not hestiate to get in touch if you have any questions or concerns.