Since it is so hard to make WordPress staging sites, most WordPress developers end up making changes on live sites. We know we shouldn’t, but there’s no easy alternative. Most WP developers have some sort of horror story from developing on a live site…
I think my worst experience developing on a live site was when a client asked for a really minor change – I think they wanted to change the length of the excerpt or something. It was pretty late at night, and I figured I’d go to their site and make this minor change. It was a quick and easy task, should have taken about 10 minutes. I didn’t have FTP access to the site, so I used WordPress’s built-in theme editor. I had to make a change to functions.php. I cavalierly typed some stuff into functions.php, hit save….. and got a white screen of death. If you have a syntax error in functions.php, the whole site totally breaks. Nothing will load – not the front end of the site, not the dashboard, nothing… So the site was broken and no one could see it, and I couldn’t get to the dashboard to fix my error in the theme editor, and I didn’t have FTP access, and it was late evening. So I had to call the client (thank goodness he was on the West Coast like me, instead of on the East Coast) and explain the situation. He didn’t have FTP access either, and had to make a call to someone who was traveling somewhere across the world to find the FTP information. What should have been a 5-minute tasked turned into an hour-long fiasco, and during that time the client’s site was totally unavailable.
So developing on live sites is bad.
That’s why we’re building WP Stagecoach – developers really shouldn’t work on live sites, but we all do it anyway, because creating a staging site requires a lot of time, work, and technical expertise. Once WP Stagecoach is released, there will be no excuse for developing on live sites any more – you can quickly and easily create a staging site and migrate your changes back to the live site.