When to use your development environment

by May 17, 2019Business

Last post we talked about backups. This time I want to talk about having a site that is the same as your production (or at least close) but isn’t actually your production site.  By production site I mean the site the public and or your customers/community see. The site where you make or plan to make your money. The site you don’t want to mess up.  

But you have an idea. It could be a really good idea but you aren’t sure how to implement the idea or you aren’t sure how it will look. We all know that sometimes what we see in our minds seems so easy. All I have to do is..

Then you sit down at your computer. You are exited and enthusiastic. Your heart is racing. You make a change and another and another and another. Tada you look at your page.  Uh oh, the changes didn’t do what you envisioned at all. Your site looks a lot different. Maybe it looks perfect but more likely it doesn’t.  No worries you remember what you changed. (You have a backup that you tested. right?).  You start to untangle your changes. Your heart is racing now for a different reason. Anyone hitting your site will be “surprised” and lost. What if they decide not to come back. If you collect passwords or money then you can’t afford to lose the confidence of your community. 

What do you do? Restore your site quickly. The thing about IT work is that you will ALWAYS believe that you are on the verge of fixing it. “One more change syndrome”.  You may be. But more than likely it will take more. 

Should you never try your ideas? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it? No. What you need is a non production site. By non-production site, I mean the one where only you and maybe a few others can see it. A place where you can play around with different layouts, themes, pictures, plugin and updates without impacting your production site.

What’s the big deal? I can always just undo my change and republish. Well until you can’t. If you are testing themes or plugins you may get to a point of no quick return. Or worse.. Restore your backup return. Which is fine because we have one now, but bad because that takes time.

Your production site is your reputation. It needs to always be stable and up. If you are playing around in it and your customers/community are confused or lost then you may lose them or worse they may start posting about their “bad” experience.

You can test somethings on your production site. Think about the worst case if things went wrong and then decide where to make the change, Non Production first? Or straight into production?