No business wants its website to look bad or to be broken for any length of time. This is why websites need to consist of separate environments or systems for developing, testing, and production. Although a dev site can initially sound like an unnecessary expense, the long-term value is exponential. Making changes to your public-facing website should be stress-free because the updates have already been engineered on a dev site, tested, shown to perform, and approved by the site owner in a test environment. Let’s break that down a little further.
A dev site, or development site, is usually internal to a web development company. It’s what the developer, or team of developers, is actively changing and updating. Your development site is essentially a copy of your public website but is completely hidden from users. Because significant website changes can take time to complete, a dev site may be in varying states of function and appearance, looking good, looking bad, being “broken,” and working correctly. Having a dev site allows the developer to make changes without impacting a client’s public-facing website.
Dev sites don’t just benefit developers – they also minimize worry for website owners!
When the developers fulfill the requested changes, they can deploy them to a test site for the website owner to see and approve. A test site, also called a staging site, is where any remaining issues should be found, and all changes should be confirmed. Unlike the dev site, where changes are being made, and issues worked through, the test site should usually be properly functioning with the latest stable changes. The site owner can review the updates frequently and give feedback to the developers. A test site allows multiple updates to the owner’s specifications without any interference to the user experience on the production site.
When the website owner is satisfied, the agreed-upon changes can be published to the production site for website visitors to see and experience. The production site, or live site, is the published version of the website that should be bug-free and reliable for website visitors. Every website change should have different functioning environments. That means all websites should benefit from dev and test sites for stress-free updates.
Our team is happy to discuss development environments for your specific site needs. Please let us know how we can help!