Yes, you always want to use a dev site on WordPress!
WordPress sites use a variety of plugins that need regular updates to maintain the latest version. When a WordPress plugin updates, sometimes it can “break” and create issues across your entire site. This happens when the updated plugin is not compatible with the newest WordPress version release. Not only can plugins not work with your version of WordPress, but there can also be issues among plugins when they are not all kept up to date. When these updates are made directly to a live production site, you risk your public-facing website breaking and costly downtime for your business.
WordPress is open-source software, which means anyone can contribute to its code and create a plugin, both paid and free versions alike. Each time you install a plugin on your site and enable it, you are at the mercy of every developer contributing to the software. If a developer abandons a plugin and no longer offers updates and you have it installed on an old version of WordPress, it will likely fail after some time. You want to use plugins created by reliable developers with good reviews who maintain and update their plugins to be effective and safe.
Having too many plugins can slow down a WordPress site. A dev site is helpful as a testing environment for deactivating old plugins or adding new ones. Often, website owners are afraid to remove plugins because they don’t know what will happen to the site when they hit delete. The dev site allows the developer to delete the plugin and see if it helps speed up the site, and then they can try a newer version or a different plugin with the same functionality but doesn’t slow the site down.
It’s essential to have a WordPress developer who carefully selects which plugins are used on your site, knows how they are used, and keeps them updated. A dev site allows you to assess the impact of modifying a WordPress site and its plugins without affecting a public website.
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