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Merge changes to test site into live site?

  • I have a site that has been up for 2 years. I need to completely redo the site’s look and feel, but I don’t want to take down the live site to do so – because it could take me a week or so to complete the new look.

    I can create a new site (test.mydomain.com) and use BackupBuddy to migrate the live site to the test site. There I can take my time to make my site look and feel great.

    But, what happens when I migrate the test site to the live site? What about the posts, pages, comments and other changes (like links for blogrolls) that may have taken place on the main site between the time I migrated a copy of the main site to the test site and the time I get ready to migrate the new site to the live site?

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
  • Moderator Jan Dembowski


    It depends on what you mean when you say “redo the site’s look and feel”.

    If you are only talking about the theme and not the posts, pages, comments, and blogroll links: You should be able to create a ZIP file archive of just your new theme directory and install that onto your live WordPress installation via the theme uploader on the dashboard.

    The caveat is that the theme needs to be in a new directory that does not exist on the live site, and the theme name does not conflict with any existing theme.

    If it’s more than just the theme then backup and restore is a good way to go.

    In either case just make sure you have a complete file and database backup of the live site before you apply any new changes.


    Knowing how to put is all back the way it was is your best safety net.

    Thanks for the advice!

    When I say “redo the site’s look and feel”, I mean changing basically everything except the posts and comments and some of the pages on the current site.

    Ok…here’s what I have decided to try.

    Make the test domain, copy the existing site there, make my changes and prep it to migrate to the live site.

    I’ll put the live site in maintenance mode, and do a complete backup and save that somewhere safely off the live site.

    Before migrating, go to the Admin menu, Tools>Export, select All Content and do an export.

    It says “All content This will contain all of your posts, pages, comments, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts.” I hope that means that it also keeps attachments, images etc.

    I’ll use BackupBuddy to migrate the test site to the live site. Then, I’ll import my exported data into the live site and disable maintenance mode.

    If all goes as planned, this should do the trick.

    I”ll let you know.

    My only concern is that I will be creating content while creating the new look (for sliders, landing page, and so on). For example, if I create a cool new Home page, it may be overwritten in the import of the old data (since I had an old Home page in the old site).

    WordPress says (http://codex.wordpress.org/Importing_Content#WordPress) “WordPress will then import each of the posts, comments, and categories contained in this file into your blog”, but the exporter also mentions pages, custom fields, terms, navigation menus and custom posts as a part of what is exported – so I am not sure what will happen.

    Well….I might as well dive in. As long as I have backups, I should at least be able to get back to square one if the whole thing craps out on me.

    Moderator Jan Dembowski


    As long as I have backups, I should at least be able to get back to square one if the whole thing craps out on me.

    I applaud your spirit! That’s the best way to learn. But practice restoring those backups somewhere else.

    Always good to make sure the safety net works. 😉

    I’ll update the post in a few days with my results.

    Trial by fire….its the only way to harden steel.

    If you want you can manage and change the look by installing this plugin Preview themes and only you as admin will see the theme you working on, Your visitors will see the same look as you have now until you activate the theme.

    Not sure about that one govpatel. Lots of themes use shortcodes that other themes only see as text.

    This is a major pet peeve of mine concerning WordPress themes. Shortcodes suck.

    Shortcodes are theme-specific and will require you to do a LOT of rewriting of your posts if you have used shortcodes in them.

    IMHO, shortcodes should be limited to CSS styles and should remain even after the theme is removed. Then, the site could be re-styled by changing the Shortcodes.css file and you would not have to go through all of your older posts and pages removing shortcodes.

    Furthermore, there should be a common naming convention for the CSS styles in the shortcodes.css file.

Viewing 6 replies - 1 through 6 (of 6 total)
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