Many of our customers have been with us for years and are running older website code or older design layouts and want to freshen up their website. Your server is like an apartment its up to you to decorate or decide its time to modernize. Your server is state of the art and capable of running all types of code from html or php or ruby or python so how your site looks comes down to your choice of building system and templates or design elements. The same server can display an old 90's looking website or a state of the art site it all depends on what you desire.
This article is written for clients who already have an existing running website on the server we provide but want to build a replacement site without downtime. This is done by building a "Staging" website hidden in a private sub-directory of your main public_html web directory ie: public_html/staging . This permits you to build and tweak your new site without the public seeing it and you can view how it will look to the public in real time by viewing it at yourdomain.com/staging . Once you (or your web designer / programmer) get the staging site the way you like, the old files are moved or deleted and the staging site is moved into the web root folder public_html and your new site is now live to the public.
Below are the recommended methods of doing a staging site based on the system used to build your website:
HTML SITES: We are HUGE fans of plain vanilla html it is native to your browser and will run / load the faster than any other method and does not requires updates to keep it secure. Simply create a NEW ftp account in your cPanel with the path public_html/staging this will auto create the staging sub-directory. Set your computer based web design software to use this new ftp account to build and upload the new site to the staging sub-directory. Once you are happy with the new site which you will view at yourdomain.com/staging use the cPanel file manager to delete the old site files and move the new files from the /staging directory into the main public_html folder.
SITE BUILDER SITES: If you built your website with the easy to use drag and drop site builder we provide in your cPanel there are 2 ways you can effect staging. (1) the site builder does allow you to make updates and preview them in its own preview window PRIOR to publishing which pushes the files to your server. For most people this is more than sufficient . (2) If you are doing a complex design and want to see how it will render in the browser you can self upgrade or open a ticket to upgrade to the hosting advanced package which permits you to add subdomains to your account. You would create a subdomain called staging.yourdomain.com and it will have its own site builder instance and will be blank. You would log into your main account builder and export a backup file and import that file into the new sub domain site, make your changes and publish only to the subdomain and view it live at staging.yourdomain.com and once you are happy with it export a backup from the staging site and import it into your main site and publish. IMPORTANT: the builder is your design interface but is not the same as the code it compiles and puts on your servers public_html folder so you must backup the design files since they represent a backup of your hours of design effort. Use the site builders own Backup option to take a backup of your Site Builders design files BEFORE you make changes / updates so you can revert or restore your site should you mess up or not like your updates.
CMS WORDPRESS OR DRUPAL: Wordpress and Drupal are some of the more popular "scripts" that are applications that run on the server using databases and php programming language. These are more complex systems that MUST be kept up to date to insure there are no security exploits . To build a staging site use the app installer in your cPanel to install a hidden wordpress instance at yourdoman/staging by setting the subdirectory to staging, then select the advanced options to (a) take daily backups (b) auto update core wordpress and plugins and themes, write down your wordpress login / password and then click the install button. You can then build and configure the staging site allowing you to review its progress. When you are satisfied with the new staging site and ready to go live, use the cPanel file manager to delete your old website files, then use the app installer clone feature to copy the site from the staging to the public_html web root so it becomes your new site. The advantage of this system is even after your main site is now working you or your developer can make changes and allow you to preview them on the staging site and once you approve them implement them on the live production site. Further our app installer has options to keep your code theme , plugins all auto updated which is important for security also in addition to our daily internal backups the app installer has its own backup system permitting you to schedule more long term weekly or monthly backups which allow you to recover a site over 2 weeks since our backups ran after our nightly backups overwrite.
Giving your Web Designer Access to your server: You would add your designer to your account as a sub-account user with "single sign on" privileges enabled so they can log into your server and work on your site and make sure to check the "can open support tickets" so if they need our help we can provide it to them directly.