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brusselsprouts

Help a newbie: cleanest way to redesign client site / create staging site without breaking stuff or wasting time?

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Posted (edited)

I'm a freelance designer/developer who's still learning some of the ropes. I'm fairly experienced with Wordpress (but still have lots to learn there too!) but am currently working with a client to redesign their Squarespace site.

I've learned that unlike with Wordpress or Drupal, there's no support to create a staging site in Squarespace to make major changes without changing (and potentially breaking) the live site. From browsing this forum, I know I'm not the only one who finds that frustrating.

Anyway: my client has an existing Squarespace site, and they want a thoroughly redesigned site, also in Squarespace. They'll need a new template, of course, but also some new content (I'm working with them to create some new landing pages), and a completely reorganized navigation structure.

Given that, and given Squarespace's limitations for developers, my question is: does it make more sense / is it more of a best practice to:

(a) develop the new template design using a different trial site and/or the local development server (which I've played with a little bit), duplicating or creating new individual pages, and then, when it's time to go live, putting a cover page up and doing everything else on the live site while it's down? (like what's described here: https://answers.squarespace.com/questions/67379/how-can-i-redesign-a-clients-site-without-going-live.html) I'm concerned this would put my client's live site down for a while, so I can test everything * with their content * and get their feedback. And it just... feels scary, and kind of insane, compared to how I'd do it in WP, you know?

OR, (b) clone all their content, e.g. using the imperfect-but-doable export to WP > export back from WP to SS workaround, developing the redesign on the clone site, and then, when it's time to go live, switching the client's domain to point to the live site? This mostly seems like the safer option, and this is where I'm leaning, but I'm worried I'll end up spending a lot of time spot-checking content, re-uploading blog posts' thumbnail images manually, etc. (And, reader, they have a lot of blog posts.) And it feels like there should be a better way???

OR is there a more sane © that I haven't learned about yet?

tl;dr do I need to use clunky import/export workarounds to create a clone site in order to develop a redesign for a client without breaking their live site, or is there a better way? I tried to convince them to move to WP, but it didn't work, so now I'm here. Any guidance appreciated!

Edited by brusselsprouts

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