Your Guide to Local WordPress Development

Live vs Local WordPress Sites

There is a reason people choose WordPress on their website platform. It’s easy to build and change aspects of your website without lots of coding and complex programming. It’s so easy that many people choose to make changes to their live site, but one false move and your live site is broken or looks horrible.

Local WordPress development allows you to make dramatic and sweeping changes to your website without worrying about impacting the live site. Once you have everything completed and perfect, you can migrate it to your WordPress host and go live.

We’ll explain what local WordPress development is and why it’s best for your website.

What is Local WordPress Development?

The problem with making changes to a live site is any issues are seen immediately by your customers and website visitors. Even adding what may seem to be a minor change such as a new widget can have unforeseen consequences.

WordPress local development means creating a copy of your website on your hard drive and making changes to that instead of the live site. There are many benefits to doing this that go beyond making changes safely.

You can test themes and plug-ins on your site without impacting the look of the live site. Many times, a plug-in seems safe but ends up not being compatible with an existing plug-in and causes site problems.

When WordPress has a new update, it’s exciting to see the new features, but often there are bugs. Many times, plug-ins don’t work, and vital parts of your website can go down. Local WordPress development lets you see what happens without risking your live site.

If you’re ever away from an Internet source, you can still make changes to your website. No Internet is needed for local development. When you connect to a source, you’ll be ready to upload the new changes.

Websites are limited by Internet connection speeds. If you make changes, it could be slow to upload if you’re working on a live site. You don’t have to worry about connectivity speed in local development. It’s lightning-fast response time.

What Do I Need for WordPress Local Development?

Any WordPress website, online or offline, needs a server to function. You’ll need to have a server set up on your computer. WordPress uses PHP as it’s main programming language, so you’ll need something like MySQL for a database.

You’ll need an integrated development environment as well such as Notepad ++. Since you’re making changes to a website, it’s not a bad idea to have a few debugging tools to make sure your changes don’t create any problems.

Browsers such as Chrome and Firefox have extensive tools for developers to help analyze the code.

The final step is a program to set up the local server environment on your computer. There are several programs available and they contain everything you need to create the environment.

You can install WordPress locally the same way you install it on an external server. The difference is it’s all on your computer and not directly connected to your live website.

Migrating Your Local Site to Your Live Site

One of the key aspects of local development is the ability to migrate the test site with the changes to your main site. You’ve made the changes, debugged it and everything is perfect, so now you need to migrate it to the live site.

What happens is the test site overwrites the existing site with the new changes. The Pressable Automated Migration Plugin is a perfect choice.

Migrating websites is often a hassle and can even be dangerous for your website. If the code isn’t migrated properly or gets corrupted, it can have tremendous consequences. The Pressable Automated Migration Plugin makes it quick and easy. All you need is an active account with Pressable.

The process for using the Pressable Automated Migration Plugin is simple – just download the plugin, follow the on-screen prompts and let the plugin do its job. Once you’ve migrated the site, it’s important to go over it with a fine-toothed comb to make sure everything is functioning properly.

Alternatively, you could choose to have your migration done by your hosting partner. Pressable offers managed migrations for free and typically completes the process in less than 48 hours.

Choosing Managed WordPress Hosting for Your Live Site

Earlier, we talked about the need for every WordPress site to have a server, but it also needs a hosting platform. Hosting is like the Internet real estate for your website. It’s the lot that you put your finished website on. While there are many types of hosting, you’ll want to choose a host that is optimized specifically for WordPress sites and will manage regular maintenance so you don’t need to worry about it.

General hosting providers offer relatively inexpensive managed hosting options, but are unable to optimize systems for WordPress because they have all different types of platforms running. For example, a single hosting server could have several WordPress sites, but also Joomla, Drupal, and many others. They need to make sure everything works with everyone.

A managed WordPress host only has WordPress sites on their servers, so they can make optimizations that give WordPress sites an edge over websites hosted by other providers. While WordPress itself is a fairly intuitive site builder, there are a lot of complex things going on behind the scenes that keep your site running fast, secure and error-free. It’s best to leave these aspects up to the experts to manage and maintain.

WordPress Local Development Is Ideal for Websites

Don’t risk customers or your business’ reputation because of mistakes made during live website changes. Local WordPress development along with managed WordPress hosting by Pressable can give you a rock-solid foundation and the ability to make changes without impacting your live site.

If you want more information on WordPress local development and managed WordPress hosting, please request a demo.

Zach Wiesman

Zach has 12+ years of experience with WordPress, from creating and maintaining client sites, to providing support and developing documentation. A knack for problem-solving and providing solutions led Zach to pursue a job with Automattic providing customer support in 2015 working with WooCommerce support, and now Zach has recently joined our team here at Pressable. Outside of work, Zach enjoys spending time with his family, playing and watching sports, and working on projects around the house.

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