What is a Shopify staging site? Why do I need one?

Sep 26, 2018

This guide for Shopify merchants introduces what a staging site is and why it’s useful to have one. Are you a developer? Jump straight to our guide about how to set up a Shopify staging site.

If you’ve never experienced features on your shop breaking, changes going live that shouldn’t have, design mistakes or struggling to coordinate multiple developers, then you probably don’t need a staging site. But for the rest of us who have, a Shopify staging site is a saviour!

A staging shop lets you check and test changes on a copy of your shop separate from your live shop. It’s a safe place to test changes without risking your customers seeing them.

Making changes directly to your published theme in the Shopify admin is very risky. During the gaps between making a change, testing it and fixing it, your customers may be experiencing bugs on your shop.

But an effective Shopify staging site is also not where developers should make changes to. A clean, low-risk development process has your developers working all in their own copies of your published theme.

When they have tested their work they add these changes to your staging theme. This is where you have the opportunity to test and approve the work before putting it live. You shouldn’t find many bugs here since a staging site is intended as the final step before putting something live. There should’ve been thorough testing in the development copy first.

Once you’re happy with the staging changes they are put live into your published Shopify theme.

In this way you can have multiple people working on your shop at once, all in their own safe, isolated copies. And you always have the final approval of the staging site before a change goes live.

To recap:

  • Your developers work in their own copies of your theme: development sites
  • When they have tested and are ready for the change to go live they apply their work to the staging site
  • You review and approve the work and then apply the changes to your published theme
  • Changes never happen directly in your published theme, they always go through this development > staging > published process to ensure a stable and bug-free (as much as possible!) live shop

How do you set up and manage this in Shopify? We’ve written a guide about how to set up a Shopify staging site.

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