When we develop a new website, we need to create a new website hosting account for that site to sit in. A website hosting account is a bit like renting office space: even though your business might not yet be fully operational, you still need to start renting office space in order to start filling it with people and equipment in preparation for your Grand Opening day. Your new website hosting account for your ‘under development’ website allows us to:
- System Test the site thoroughly before it goes live
- Share with you, the client, the progress of the design and development. We can then gain your feedback on our work, involve you with user acceptance testing (if necessary/appropriate) and ultimately gain your sign-off to make the site ‘live’.
But what web address (URL) will the new ‘under development’ site have? It depends on whether or not the web address is currently in use or not, i.e. whether this is a brand new site with a brand new web address, or whether this is a redevelopment of an existing website where (typically) the URL of the new site will inherit the URL of the old site.
Where it’s a brand new site with a brand new web address, we can begin to use the new web address immediately (but password protected) during the development phase.
Where it’s a redevelopment of an existing site, we need to give the development site a different name. We call this an “Itomic Powered” site, and is typically given the web address of http://yourcompanyname.itomicpowered.com.
After your new site goes live, there are benefits to be gained by retaining a duplicate and separately hosted copy of your new site. This development copy/version of your new site is commonly referred to as the “UAT” (User Acceptance Testing) or “Staging” site.
The primary benefit of retaining the UAT site is that it allows you (and us!) to easily and completely test and review new features prior to them being approved and going ‘live’. In the absence of a UAT version of your site, there’s a heightened risk that, despite everyone’s best efforts, maintenance and upgrade work performed directly on the live site do not work as intended, thereby causing a negative impact on your site (until such time as they can be corrected), and a negative impression from your site’s users/visitors. A secondary benefit is that, in some circumstances, we could quickly convert your UAT site into your live site in the unlikely event of a major and prolonged outage at the data centre where the live site is hosted.
So the websites that benefit most from maintaining a UAT site after a site goes live are these:
- Mission critical sites (of any size or complexity).
- Complex sites (e.g. e-commerce, or any site with advanced functionality).
A UAT site will not by itself 100% guarantee a completely bug-free experience on your live site – but it most definitely helps significantly in this direction.
The basic cost of maintaining a UAT site with Itomic is a 50%* discount on the hosting cost of the live version of your site. We recommend that this is a small price to pay for the extra protection it brings to the integrity of your live site, and therefore represents a long-term cost saving.
*There is a small possibility that, in order to maintain a fully-functional UAT site (i.e. to mimic the behaviour of the live site as closely as possible) there may be additional costs for certain UAT sites because we must use add-on services such as SSL certificates, payment gateways, or similar. If this is the case, naturally we’ll discuss with you in advance.