3/17/2013

Setting up a Test blog in Blogger

I thought I'll just share with you guys how I setup my test blog here in Blogger. Well it's a reminder to myself too cause there's a couple of things I sometimes forget when putting up my test blog.

In case you are wondering what a test blog is, it's basically a site where you do all your testing especially if you are unsure of the outcome. It could really be risky to apply updates directly to your live blog especially if it's a major change, unstable or experimental.

This post is meant for existing blogs in which you want to put up a test site for. You can still follow this if you haven't got a blog yet but some of the steps used here won't apply.

So let's begin!

Step 1. Exporting your existing blog.

Go the dashboard of the blog you want to test and go to Settings » Other. Under Blog tools, click on Export blog to download a copy of your blog.

Next is to download a copy of your blog's template. Go to Template » Backup/Restore » Download Full Template.

Having the latest copy of your blog and its template will be something like a restore point. If anything wrong happens during the process of updating your blog, you will still have a back up to resort to.

Step 2. Creating your test blog.

If you haven't created your test blog just select New Blog in your Blogger Dashboard then enter its name and url to whatever you want.

  • If you used a similar name to your live blog, you might end up updating the wrong site so be sure to add an indication to your test blog's name that it is a test blog. For example: Post 1/8 (live blog), Post 1/8_ (test blog)
  • I suggest that you use a URL that you can easily identify as your test blog.
  • Choose the template you plan to use or if you have a custom one, the Simple template will do.

Create your test blog.

Step 3. The test blog's Basic settings.

After creating your test blog, enter its dashboard then go to Settings (Settings » Basic).

Under the Basic section, set the Privacy to Not listed on Blogger. Not visible to search engines.. Under the Permission section, set the Blog Readers to Only blog authors. If you plan to use external apps to test your site, set it to Anybody instead to allow access.

The test blog's basic settings.

Now go to Other (Settings » Other).

Under Site Feed, set Allow Blog Feed to None.

The test blog's other settings.

You also might want to set Blogger not to track your own pageviews. Just go to Stats » Don't track your own pageviews. If there is anything else you need to configure, just go ahead and set them up.

Step 4. Copying your blog to the Test blog and adjusting its template.

If you are going to start from creating a Blogger template from scratch, you don't have to do this next step; otherwise, go under the Blog tools section (still in Settings) and click Import blog and select the blog xml file we exported earlier in Step 1.

Next is to make some changes to the test blog's template. I always forget this part so I am writing it down here.

If you will use Blogger's Template Editor: Template » Edit HTML. If you will edit it in Notepad or something else, download first your test blog's template (Template » Backup/Restore » Download full template). Don't touch the template we downloaded in Step 1. It is the backup so we don't want to make any changes to it.

Now in the test blog's template:

  • Search and replace all instances of your blog's url to your test blog's.
  • Comment out all tracking codes you've used in your blog - analytics, stats..
  • I suggest that you also remove all Ad codes so that you won't generate false impressions/clicks or whatnot. If the placement of the ads are important for your testing, just use an empty bordered box or maybe an image instead.
  • I might have missed something else so I'll update this list if needed.

Then upload your template to your test blog, make sure it's working the same as your live blog (make some changes if needed) then proceed to adding any changes you want.

Step 5. Updating your live blog

Once you are ready to apply any updates to your blog, don't forget to first update the test blog template (or make a copy if your want) and revert the changes we did in Step 4 (url, tracking codes, ads..).

Then go to Template » Backup/Restore and upload your new template. Once the new template is applied, make sure it is working properly and update your widgets/settings if necessary.

Some notes

  • You can use this test blog over and over again with other blog templates. Just import your blog and adjust the settings, layouts and widgets as needed.

Hope you find this post useful and if there is anything I missed or messed up, just leave me a comment below.