Once a website is live and being visited by the public we probably still want to make changes or add functionality. So that we can try out new things without interrupting the visitors to the live site we will have a “Test” version of the site. Sometimes we may have even more versions of the site. Depending on the perceived purpose of these extra versions they may be called “the Dev site,” “Staging” or “Qual.”
Generally, the COFA Web team will ask you to review and approve new functionality on the test site before we move it to the live site. Usually we try to keep the path to the site as similar to the “Live” or published site as possible, something like: https://test.root.utexas.edu.
Note that before moving it to the Test site, the Developers generally perform the edits on a “local” version of the site. Which is usually on their laptop computer.
You are welcome to try out new content, menu organizations, complex layouts or other features on the Test site. However, before doing so, be sure to ask the COFA Web team when the next time the test site will be synched with the live site. To be effective the Test site needs to be a a mirror of the live site. So on a regular basis we will override the test site with the content, database and code from the live site.
More than you want to know about Web Deployment Environments and Best Practices from Beanstalk Guides.