Use WordPress Admin Themes to Differentiate Local and Live Environments

January 5, 2015

Categorized: WordPress, Workflow

Quick post because I am a busy, busy, tired person but good things are totally happening (yay!).

Use WordPress admin themes to differentiate your local development and live environments. Though I always run a local development environment, I frequently need to look on the live website to make sure the settings are the same or check different things, etc.

The Problem

Quickly checking the live website normally works just fine… but if you aren’t paying attention to the URL when you’re messing around, it can have pretty bad consequences.

For example: once I almost disabled all of the plugins on a live WordPress website. It was only noticing the URL at the last second (everything was selected and I was in the dropdown!) that saved me.

It probably wasn’t a big deal… but you never really know when changing something is going to take down the website, so it’s good to make those changes locally instead of live. It’s especially good to avoid making any changes from the WordPress admin panel, where you can accidentally lock yourself out from undoing changes with a white screen. If you don’t have FTP details, this can be a seriously bad situation, resulting in downtime to a live website.

Use Themes to Differentiate Local and Live

I dislike the Sunrise WordPress admin theme — it’s way too bright for my tastes. I never use it on a live website. For live sites, it’s usually default, Ectoplasm, or Coffee. So — if I’m working locally, one of the first things I do after getting the environment set up, is switch to the Sunrise theme. The exception is when I don’t already have a live site — but once I do, you can bet that the local environment is back on Sunrise.

If you dislike certain themes or always leave it default, this can be an easy way to differentiate your local and live environments. Doing so can prevent sometimes disastrous — but usually annoying — mistakes.