threewaystohideCongratulations on your new site in development!
Now I as a web person understand your old website needs to stay online while your new website gets developed… then get moved ‘live’ when you are ready. The question I have for you is, how secret do you want it to be?
Here are three levels of ‘hiding’ your website in development, in case you are worried about spies.

Level 1: Hiding it from search engines.

This hides it from being indexed… but someone typing in the direct URL can still get to it.
To do this: In WordPress go under ‘Settings’ then ‘Reading’ and check the box to discourage search engines. (Other kinds of software have similar settings.) Will it completely stop everything? No. Does it put at least a white sheet over it that someone has to notice and remove? Yes.
For most clients we work with, this is enough. We simply work on the site at a location like while stays online. No one even notices! (And honestly, most people don’t really care.)
Best for: People who don’t want to take their current site offline but aren’t feeling super sneaky either.
Kind of like: Playing hide and seek with your 10 year old cousin. You can get up and go find them if you really want to but really, aren’t you going to just keep sitting on the couch, watching the movie you started?

Level 2: Hiding website from everyone behind a password.

This means when you type in a website address, you will immediately be prompted to enter a username and a password before it’ll even load. This box will pop up and, until you give it what it wants, you aren’t getting anywhere.
If you want to hide what you are working on from everyone, this is one way to do it.
The annoying thing for people who keep having to work on the site: You’ll have to do this *every time*¬†you want to look at a page. Also things like uploading photos becomes difficult as you are changing files and the server gets a little confused sometimes since you didn’t enter the password to do that. (And at times, you have to turn on password encryption to be able to do these things.) This is a bit technical and it’s something that can be set in your web hosting (in Cpanel, it’s relatively easy. I can’t speak for servers that don’t use Cpanel as far as to the easiness of this).
Best for: An idea that is potentially damaging if it gets out before it’s completely solidified (ie you think you’ve invented the next Facebook) yet you need a team of people to be able to work on it from different locations.
Kind of like: Breaking into someone’s email. You probably can’t guess the password but figure if you can’t get in, there must be something juicy lurking in there. (P.S. I’ve never broke into someone’s email, for the record… but if my younger days, I definitely tried!)

Level 3: Working on the website locally

zoolanderfilesincomputerThis is the most secure. Basically you download WordPress/your website onto a computer and work on it from there. (Downloading a program like MAMP (or WAMP if you have a windows computer) makes it a bit easier to run a server on your own computer).
Since you are working on it on your own machine only, only you can see it. We don’t do this a ton because we’re often showing things to do the client, having multiple people work on it at the same time, etc. but this is an option. (You can also send links for previews to clients in the Pro version of the software I believe.)
You basically add MAMP (or WAMP) to your computer, run a backup of your current site, and pop it into MAMP/WAMP on your computer. When you feel the site is done, you just move it back to where it goes online (I don’t mean this is necessarily ‘easy’: few hours of work and involves some database changes but honestly, in the grand scheme of things, not a huge deal. Just worth paying someone to do that portion maybe!)
Best for: Super secret projects being worked on by a small team either physically close together and/or you have an interconnected network together
Kind of like: Every spy movie you have ever seen where they go in the government building and realize everything is happening in the one room that you need to break into. Get out the grappling hook! (Or in this case, be ready to steal a computer.)
I know it’s easy to think that everyone is waiting with baited breath for your new website, going to the point where they will do ANYTHING to see your new site before it’s live… but honestly, most of this is overkill for most people. But we did want to mention that you do have options while the site is in progress to keep it under wraps.


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