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Staging a Website in BU WordPress

Before new websites are launched in BU WordPress, they are prepared on a staging network. Please review the linked workflow diagrams and carefully read the guidelines below to ensure a smooth and successful launch of your new site.

Workflow and Diagrams of Staging Sites

There are three primary workflows for staging new websites in BU WordPress.

  • NEW, BLANK SITE: New blank sites are created in BU WordPress on the staging server. You get a few default pages (home page, contact page, etc.) and an empty media library. This workflow is used for brand new sites. This workflow is also used if you are replacing an existing site and you want to do the migration and reorganization of the site’s media and content yourself.
  • CLONED SITE: If your site is already in WordPress, we can clone your existing site — everything is copied (pages, posts, media, etc.). This allows you to edit, re-organize, and/or redesign your existing site, change your site’s theme or implement mobile theme options. It is important to remember that from the moment your existing site is cloned, your staging site is a completely separate site from your live site (with a completely separate media library).
  • IMPORTED SITE: If you have a site import project with the Web Team, we develop a script that imports as much of your page content and media items as possible. The scripting process is not perfect, so some additional time to locate, organize, and clean up your content may be required. After the import, your staging site is a completely separate site from your live site (with a completely separate media library).

General Guidelines

  • All old sites that are replaced are archived by IS&T. Access to archived copies is restricted to site administrators. If you need access to an old version of your site, please submit a request.
  • Other than working within you staging site do not externally link to, publish, or share a “-staging” web address. This is a temporary URL only for staging and will not be accessible after your site is launched. We do not install redirects from old “-staging” URLs to live sites.

Media Content

  • All images, documents, presentations, and other media content must be copied into the Media Library of your staging site, and you must link to the content in the new location.
  • Do not link to images, documents, or any other media content on your old site. Remember — the staging site, and it’s media library, will completely replace the old site and the old site’s media library.

Links

  • You are responsible for updating your links when staging a new site for launch.
  • When linking to other pages on your staging site, it is OK to use the staging URLs (www.bu.edu, sites-staging.bu.edu, etc.). The “-staging” links are automatically replaced by our launch scripts when the new site is launched.
  • Do not link to pages on your old site. Remember — the new site will completely replace the old site.
  • If your old site is not a WordPress site, chances are many of your links are pointing to specific .html files. No links to WordPress pages end in .html, so when staging a new site you will need to update these links accordingly.

Launch Requests

  • Please allow adequate time and plan accordingly when requesting the launch of your new WordPress site. You can request a site launch online.
  • The Web Team reviews all sites before they are approved for launch.
  • We do not approve sites that have “coming soon,” or “under construction” pages. Please set these pages to draft status, and you can publish them when appropriate content is ready after the site has launched.
  • We do not approve sites that have blank pages. All pages must have appropriate content. If the page in question is a landing page for a section of child pages, at a minimum you should write a short paragraph summarizing the section.
  • We do not approve sites that have broken link problems. Our site review includes the IS&T Web Team running a link report on your site. If you have broken links, we will provide you with a report of the broken links. These links will need to be either fixed or removed before the site can be approved for launch.
  • We only give launch approval for sites that adhere to University branding guidelines.
  • We do not approve sites that use in-line styles or use text/image formatting inconsistent with the approved BU WordPress themes.

Virtual Hosts

If your website uses a virtual host address (for example: mysite.bu.edu, rather than the standard www.bu.edu/mysite/) you may need to provide IS&T up to two weeks advanced notice before we can launch your site. Virtual host configuration changes are only performed during off-hour change windows and require testing before they are scheduled and deployed.