Creating A Local Test Environment That Replicates Your Existing Web Presence

  • Who is this post for: Web Designers learning Web Development, anyone wanting to understand the beginning steps of Web Development
  • Why you would want/need to read it: you need a place to play and make mistakes with a web presence that already exists, without the playing and mistaking affecting your live WWW environment
  • How hard is this to do/learn: 10 out of 5 (takes real tech-genius and you’ve got it but you gotta try it in order to show that to yourself)
  • Cost: free, except for the value of your time, focus, energy to follow the directions
  • Computer type: I work on Windows and these instructions are also supposed to cover Mac as well, although I did not test that myself

Gettin’ geeky wid you

I am totally and completely going to let my geek hang out so get ready. You’ve read the bullet points above and really shouldn’t be reading any further unless you want to get geeky with me.

I’ve noticed… that I’ve been asking for help in my business. It started as contrast (challenges) in the form of overwhelm and having too much/too many clients lining up saying “Yes, I’ll even wait up to 6 (more like 8) weeks to work with you Mynde.” (Jeez, tears in my eyes.)

And so I asked (mostly in the form of great big desire and often with tears in my eyes). And other women appeared and offered to help me free of charge (for now) because they recognize the benefit of seeing exactly what I’m doing behind the scenes in my biz to get web presences built & launched for amazing, creative & beautiful women around the globe (France, Italy & Australia).

So… I am following the call of my own expansion. Which means I’ll not question who is ready for this post and instead trust you are out there, reading this now or at some point in the future which will still be your now when you get here.  😉

Buckle up, here we go…

So you’ve got a good thing already going online. A published functioning website. You need to test, tinker, play. Possibly completely transform it. Also known as a redesign.

When I worked at Experian, we had test environments. Serveral actually. Before anything was published into its live WWW environment, it had to move through at least two other environments designed to be the place where all the kinks got worked out, tested and ready for primetime. Some refer to this are their “sandbox.” No, not as in kitty litter but as in I get to play, and break things and make a mess and everything will still be ok. It’s a no fuck-up zone… and shouldn’t our whole life be that? I keep wishing…

When I decided I wanted to redesign my web presence using PlatformPro, I didn’t want to do it live. And the plug-ins I looked at (future post, promise!) didn’t satisfy me enough to take the risk.

So I remembered that back at Experian, I could make my laptop be the web host and install some software to have it simulate a server environment, right on my local machine.

This is the best way because you get to avoid all sorts of Search Engine crap that should be considered if you were thinking about simply creating a new sub-directory in your live hosting environment and copying a replication of your WWW environment (you can learn why if you watch one of the video’s I’m about to share with you).

So here’s a quick picture of where we are going (a roadmap):

  1. You’re going to download & install software to help turn your computer into a web server
  2. You’re going to install a fresh clean copy of WordPress to your new local server
  3. You’re going to copy your entire live www site (usually your latest database file and the contents of any customization files for your WP Thesis theme)
  4. Because your database file may be gynormous, you’ll also need to download some software to help with the import into your new WordPress installation (trust me, it’s all in the vids)
  5. After all is installed, you’ll point your web browser to your local running server and login to your WP admin login, just like you do normally except you’re not going to be online.
  6. Now go get your new theme, install and begin OR introduce/test significant site enhancements here before moving it out your live WWW (people don’t watch you while you work).


Here’s what ya need:

  • Xampp – server software (in the video, he’ll tell you to download Xammp Lite, but it’s no longer available. I just downloaded the entire package and followed the video and did fine.)
  • Bigdump – breaks database file into small chunks for import
  • WordPress 3.1.3 & TextPad – or any other good html editor you prefer

After you’ve got these goodies together, also you’ll want to do/gather up the following:

  1. A complete & full back-up of everything. Put it somewhere safe. This is base control. You’ll never touch these files unless you are starting all over again (you will be using a copy of these files to replicate your locally hosted WWW site.)
  2. Your wp-config.php file. Make sure you know your Database Name & User ID and also your Database Host and password (all this info comes straight off your wp-config.php file.)
  3. Next, you’ll want to fire up the following three videos to receive step-by-step-by-step instructions from this wonderful guy in Kentucky (loved listening to his southern drawl). He does a A+++++ job at explaining how to get through it all. The vids are listed in numeric order on Delicious.

That’s it. Good luck!

I was soooo excited to be able to successfully do this for my redesign! After I purchased the PlatformPro theme, I installed and activated it and was ready to actually begin redesigning my website.

If you have questions or run into issues, don’t give up!!! It took me 2 full days to do this. I installed two other server software packages (Mowes and Wamp) that just didn’t work out for me. It was frustrating and at times felt like I wouldn’t ever figure it out. But I stayed with it, and got up and moved around, left my computer (and the problem behind) and usually, the next time I sat down, I was able to make progress. I share this with you because you won’t always get it the first time through! Which is so whether you are learning WordPress for the first time, learning how to backup your WordPress site using Filezilla for the first time or creating a full replica of your live WWW on your local computer.

Good luck! Good luck! Good luck!

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