Photo by mariordo59.
We don’t want our website to look like the crash test pictured above. So, how do we test changes to our site without wrecking our site? Unless we host a separate test site, our changes go live immediately when we click the green Thesis 2 save buttons. When I used to program, we had separate installs to work in and only after thorough testing were we allowed to go live with our changes. Working with Thesis 2 and WordPress, our changes are immediately available to the public and we may not want this. Maybe we are working on a new look that we don’t want everyone to see until we’re ready. Read on to see how I solved this problem.
How to test Thesis 2 and WordPress changes without wrecking your site
As a programmer, I had to isolate my work from the live website until it was tested and ready. Since I only have the live site to work with, I wondered how I can achieve the same type of isolation of changes on my live site. Then it occurred to me, why not write a test post using a test category using a test template. This post/category is never linked or exposed on the main site. I can make my changes on the test template until I’m happy with them, then copy the test template over to the desired target template when I’m ready to go live.
Step 1 – Create a test template
From the WordPress Dashboard navigate to the Thesis 2 Skin Editor HTML Home page.
Click on the “Home” button as shown in the picture above.
A window will open showing a list of available templates. Click the blue “Add New” button.
Give your test template a name and click the green “Create Template” button.
Our template is just a Body tag. Now we want to copy the template that we want to test changes for to our test template. Click on the template name, Test, to open the template list again.
Using the drop-down in the “Copy from Template” column, select the template you want to test changes to. Click the green “Copy Template” button. WARNING: this can’t be undone so make sure you are on your test template before performing the copy.
You will now see that your “Single” template has been copied to your Test template.
Click the green “Save Template” button.
You can read here for more information on working with Thesis 2 templates.
Step 2 – Create a test WordPress Category
Next we need to create a test WordPress Category. From the WordPress Dashboard click Posts > Categories. Give your category a name and slug value.
Scroll down and check the noindex checkboxes. No need to let search engines index this page.
Scroll to the bottom and click the “Custom Template” drop-down and select your test template. This will assign all posts to the test category to use the test template.
Click the “Add New Category” button and you will see your test category in the WordPress Category List.
For more information on creating WordPress Categories read this post.
Step 3 – Create a test post
Our last step is to create a test post using our test category with our test template.
From your WordPress Dashboard click Posts > Add New.
Give your test post a title and select your test category.
Check the noindex options. Again, no need to let the search engines index this page.
Under “Thesis Skin Custom Template” click the drop-down then select your test template.
Before publishing, click the “Edit” link next to the Visibility title. Change to “Private”, then click Publish.
Read our step for adding posts to your WordPress site.
We’re all done.
Check out your test post. You’ll see in the bottom left of the page the template being used.
You are now free to test changes to templates in a safely isolated place. Check out my test page here.
Warning: some HTML changes and most CSS Package changes are global. You may need to create duplicate, test version of HTML and CSS Packages for testing purposes.