We tend to overlook the powers of WordPress. In our defense, here at United Virtualities, we are specialists in big and powerful tech solutions – in particular Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Adobe Experience Manager.
But there is a reason why WordPress is the most popular content management system in the digital world. According to one investigation, WP now powers 40% of the world’s websites.
Simple to install and use, and cheap to run, WordPress requires user-friendly navigation and design that can require minimal coding – so those with close to zero software development experience are able to host their own site.
Yet the more substantial strengths of WordPress emanate from its extensive dev community and support – for everything from plugins and design to more complex code. While its open source nature, based on PHP and MySQL, makes it available for everyone who needs to use it, and is supplemented with detailed documentation. So for software developers who are literate in PHP and/or MySQL, they’re able to program in WP – even for those new to building their own site, there are so many groups and forums dedicated to guiding installations and designs.
Many of the world’s leading brands even use WordPress to power their website, despite being easily capable of switching to a more powerful platform. These names include Toyota, Reuters, PlayStation, Variety, the New York Post, and the White House – with WP also being particularly popular to host company blogs.
But here’s one of the downsides to using WordPress: if you want to make a change to the site – whether it’s a text edit or a whole new redesign – it is immediate. It’s not only an issue on WordPress but more generally on most platforms, like Shopify.
For simple sites this is not particularly a problem. You want to make a change, you just go and change it. You want to add a blog post? Edit the design? Sure, go ahead. Changes are updated immediately.
However, for big sites, this is extremely risky. What if you have a huge, complex change? It’s going to be updated immediately. That is a path towards breaking things left and right.
Few platforms, such as ecommerce platform Salesforce Commerce Cloud, solved this by building “staging environments” into the platform. As a swift recap, a staging environment is in essence a copy of your website that isn’t live; a place where software developers and marketing gurus are able to make changes – however small or sweeping – hell, even completely redesign every aspect of the website… all without affecting the live site that is visible to consumers.
The benefits of this are profound and could save a head-spinning amount of time and money. Having an offline version of your website in which you can experiment as much as you desire, and then test these changes and find bugs and undesired effects, attempt to fix them, over and over again, until it is fully prepared to go live.
WordPress, on the other hand, hasn’t solved this problem yet.
But that doesn’t mean nothing can be done. United Virtualities solved this by building a custom staging environment. And we use this for our website.
Essentially, to give the UV site this functionality, we created a version of the site where we make all our changes, content updates, edits, and designs. Then once we “push” those changes live, everything gets copied from the offline version of the site to the live site.
Not only that. But we have options for detailing which sections of the staging environment we want to push live – rather than pushing live all the changes made. For example, we can just copy the images over to the live site. Or just the database. Or only parts of the database.
We know! Pretty cool, right? And that’s why you’ll NEVER sea ANY mistake on our website!