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5 Ways Episerver Eliminates the Need for a Staging Environment

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
#CMS, #Episerver
Published on April 26, 2016

We look at how the features that Episerver provides can eliminate the need for a costly and complicated multi-tier website environment.

We’ve spent a great deal of time recently discussing the benefits that the Episerver CMS platform brings to website owners and content editors, but really, we’ve only scratched the surface. In our recent webinar, we looked at some of the ways that Episerver makes creating and editing content an intuitive, seamless experience, and we’ve also delved a bit deeper into the benefits of the platform here on our blog, where we’ve discussed topics like Episerver Commerce and responsive design.

However, since the world of CMS-driven websites is large and complex, there’s always more to talk about! One thing that we’ve talked about before is the use of multi-tier environments, in which an organization creates two or more versions of their website, allowing them to use the development or authoring environments to plan and preview changes to the site before moving them live.

As we’ve worked with the Episerver platform, we’ve found that it provides capabilities that can often eliminate the need for this type of multi-tier environment, allowing site owners to save on costs and avoid complexity. Here are 5 ways that Episerver provides capabilities that would require a staging environment in some other platforms:

1. Previewing Content

Users of the Ektron CMS platform are most likely familiar with the difficulty that can come with previewing changes to content. When updating a piece of content, they are able to preview how these changes will affect the main content of a page, but not how other items, like menus or sidebar widgets, will be affected.

In order to get the full picture of how changes will affect the way content is displayed, a staging environment is often the best choice. Content authors publish the changes on the staging site, then view that version of the site to ensure everything is correct. When the content is ready to go live, it is synchronized with the production version of the site.

Episerver eliminates the need for this cumbersome process by providing a robust preview functionality and a true on-page editing experience. Content authors are able to view how their updates affect the entire page, and they can also preview how the pages will appear on different devices and screen sizes. This allows them to ensure that everything is correct and publish changes immediately, without the need to synchronize content between environments.

2. Projects

Sometimes, updating one page at a time isn’t enough. When expansive updates are made to an entire section of a site, a staging environment can provide the site’s editors with a look at how these updates to multiple pages and pieces of content will all appear when published.

Episerver’s answer to this need is a feature called Projects, which allows content editors to group multiple pages and content blocks together, preview how the changes will affect the site as a whole, and publish them all at the same time. This allows for collaboration between multiple content authors, who can work together to make updates and verify that everything is correct before finalizing their changes.

3. Understanding the Effects of Changes

In many CMS platforms, it can be difficult to understand how changes made to one piece of content affect pages across the entire site. Previewing content on a staging environment often functions as a basic form of quality control, allowing content editors to see how updates will affect different pages on the site. However, this isn’t always a comprehensive check; editors might not know exactly what will be affected, so issues caused by the changes may still slip through the cracks.

Episerver addresses these concerns by informing editors how changes made to one page or content block will affect the entire site. For instance, when editing a content block, Episerver displays a message saying that changes to this block will affect a certain number of pages and provides a link that content editors can click to see exactly what pages will be affected.

What’s more, if a page is being deleted, Episerver will warn content editors if any other pages on the site link to that page and provide a list of those pages. This allows the editor to update those pages prior to deleting the content, ensuring that the deletion will not result in any broken links. By notifying editors of any issues that may arise before changes are made, Episerver allows them to resolve these issues before publishing their changes to the live site.

4. Recycle Bin

Rolling back changes can be an issue in many CMS platforms, especially when it comes to restoring deleted content. If a page in a site’s authoring environment is deleted by mistake, restoring it may require synchronizing that content from the production environment and redoing any updates which had previously been made.

Episerver eliminates the need for this type of synchronization by providing a robust recycle bin functionality, similar to what most users are familiar with on their desktop computers. Any deleted piece of content will be moved to a recycle bin, making it easy for content editors to restore it to its previous location.

5. Preview Links

In many CMS platforms, when content changes have been made, they will need to be approved before they can be published. However, viewing a preview of the content will require the approver to log in to the CMS. Staging environments are often used as a solution to this issue, allowing content authors to send a link to the staged version of the site to approvers. However, since staging environments are usually not publically available, the approver will still need to access the staging site from within the organization’s private network.

Episerver addresses this issue by offering a preview feature that allows content editors to send approvers a link to a specific version of the page before it has been published on the live site. They will be able to view this page from any location, making the approval process easy and intuitive.

As we’ve discussed regularly here on our blog, we’re impressed by the wide variety of features that Episerver provides for site owners, and we’re excited to work with our clients to utilize these capabilities to create websites that form the foundation of a successful digital strategy. Do you want to know more about how you can realize the benefits of Episerver? Are you interested in learning about migrating to Episerver from another CMS platform? Please contact us, and we’ll work with you to help you find success in your online efforts!