How To Test Your WordPress Site for Functionality, Speed, and Security

All of our plans are hosted on the highest-end CPUs with global availability. Plus, you’ll get access to Kinsta’s Cloudflare-powered CDN, with servers located in over 275+ locations.

A Content Delivery Network (CDN) enables you to improve your loading times by serving your web pages via a server that is physically closer to your visitors. With all Kinsta plans, you get access to a Cloudflare-powered CDN.

Here, you can see a full list of all plugins on your site. If your plugins are secure, you’ll see a checkmark beside each of the plugin names. Otherwise, you’ll find some information listed in the Vulnerabilities column.

Speed and Security Are Best When You Pick the Right Hosting

At this point, you can initialize the testing environment locally by running the install script:

This script installs a copy of WordPress in the /tmp directory and in the WordPress unit testing tools.

Meaning the plugin or theme could be poorly coded or even contain malicious scripts or bugs that can break your site. On top of that, it’s important to keep all software on your site up-to-date since outdated software can be used as a backdoor for malicious actors to gain access.

Core Security

For example, you might like to unit test a theme or plugin. To do this, you’ll need to install Git, SVN, PHP, and Apache. Plus, you’ll need to have your plugin ready.

Depending on your theme, you’ll see different panels. But, at the bottom of your page, you can click on the mobile or tablet icon to preview your site at the specified screen size.

In this way, you can test new design elements and ensure that your UI is working properly.

Visual Testing

Once your test is complete, you’ll want to look at the requests that are loading from the Kinsta CDN ( For full details on this topic, check out our post on how to run a CDN test.

Load Testing

Additionally, you can access Google Chrome’s developer tools to see how your WordPress site appears on mobile devices. All you need to do is open a page on your site in Google Chrome.

At Kinsta, this is super easy to do. All you need to do is navigate to WordPress Sites and choose your website from the list. Then, make sure your website is set to Staging when you run the update.

Plugins can also pose a threat to your website’s security. That’s why it’s good practice to regularly assess your plugins’ security.

Now, let’s look at five ways to test the functionality of your WordPress website. One of the best parts about functionality testing is that you can do it directly within your local environment or using DevKinsta (unlike other types of testing that require your website to be live).

Cross-Browser Support

Visual Regression Testing (VRT) ensures that all of your design elements and layouts appear as they’re supposed to. For that reason, VRT is often implemented following website changes, like when you switch themes or update a plugin.

To fix this, you’ll need to run your site through the Pingdom test a few more times. This should lead to the x-kinsta-cache and x-cache headers to register a HIT. Now, you scan the results, looking at the large yellow bar that indicates wait time or Time to First Byte (TTFB).

When you find a new theme that you want to install, the best thing to do is to activate the theme in a local development environment or on your staging site. The same goes for when an existing theme on your site releases an update.

While WordPress is a secure platform, it isn’t immune to cyber attacks. Therefore, it’s important to regularly assess the security of your core software.

Keep in mind, it can take up to fifteen minutes to generate your staging site for the first time. Then, it will exist as a subdomain of your primary domain (both use the same server).

Now that you know why it’s important to safely test WordPress, let’s take a look at some of the most common approaches.

  • Functionality testing. This enables you to gain a thorough understanding of the user’s journey on your site. For example, you can check that forms, buttons, and checkout pages are all working properly.
  • Performance and speed testing. Ensuring that your website delivers fast loading times can improve the UX, help Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and increase your Core Web Vitals scores.
  • Security testing. This involves analyzing the security mechanisms on your site, such as SSL certificates, HTTPS, web application firewalls, and more. It helps you protect sensitive data, prevent malicious attacks, and detect WordPress vulnerabilities.

The easiest way to identify slow queries and scripts is to enable Kinsta APM. If you’re a Kinsta customer, you can access the tool free of charge. However, you’ll need to enable it from your MyKinsta dashboard.

There are times when you’ll want to complete certain tasks without interfering with your live website. For instance, you may need to make sure you can update a theme safely or experiment with new design elements. However, performing these actions in WordPress can disrupt the User Experience (UX) and even break your site.

This way, you can find out more information about the sample, trace timeline, span details, and stack trace.

Slow Plugins

That’s why it can be a good idea to test your WordPress website in complete privacy. To do this, you can set up a staging site or create a local environment. Then, you’re able to run speed, functionality, and security tests before applying the changes to your live site.

Meanwhile, if it’s a theme you’ve never used before (and you aren’t familiar with the developers), installing the theme in a local environment is much safer. This means that even if the theme breaks your site, your live website will remain unaffected.

Or, click on the Report tab to run a test manually. Once the test concludes, scroll down to the Plugins section:

Find slow plugins with WPScan reports
WPScan reports

At Kinsta, we prioritize speed and security:

Kinsta hosting

And while plenty of beginners can benefit from experimenting with WordPress in a secure, private setting, testing is also super important for advanced developers. With the right tools, developers can set up a permanent staging environment to test out the functionality of products before making them available to the public.

What Are the Most Common Types of Testing?

Contrary to popular opinion, there’s a key difference between website speed testing and load testing. Essentially, speed testing measures the load time of a page, including MySQL and PHP response times.

This way, you can find the span that is taking up the maximum duration. If these spans are judged as critical for your performance, they’ll usually be highlighted in orange or red.


Again, you can use the Kinsta APM tool to identify slow plugins. Once you’ve enabled the tool in your MyKinsta dashboard, navigate to the APM tab. Then, switch to WordPress:

Test for slow plugins with Kinsta APM
Testing for slow plugins

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at why it’s important to test your WordPress site. Then, we’ll show you how to run three different types of tests. Let’s jump in!

Why Is WordPress Testing Important?

As we discussed above, you can install a new plugin (or run a plugin update) in a local environment or a staging site. This way, if anything goes wrong, your live site will remain intact.

It’s important to recognize the value of testing your website in different environments. Once you know the difference between each type of environment, it’s easier to pick the right option for your needs.

Caching offers an easy way to boost your loading times. It works by storing copies of your site on the server. This way, when a user requests your page, your server can display the cached version, enabling the data to be sent much faster.

Once the scanner is linked to your website, navigate to WPScan > Settings where you can set up automated daily or hourly scans:

Test plugin security with WPScan
Test plugin security with WPScan

Simply choose your preferred option. If you’re importing from Kinsta, you’ll need to select the correct website to import and enter your login details. Then, you’ll be directed to the Site Information screen, which functions like a dashboard for your local environment.

How To Test the Functionality of Your WordPress Site (5 Features)

The best way to test your site is to set up a staging site or create a local environment with DevKinsta. Then, you can gain insight into the functionality, performance, and security of your site (without disrupting your live web experience).

As discussed, a staging site is essentially a complete copy of your live website. Usually, it will be hosted on the same server as your live website. The only difference is that visitors won’t be able to access it.

To do this, simply login to your account and choose the website where you want to use the APM tool. Now, navigate to the APM tab and click on Enable:

Enable the Kinsta APM tool from your MyKinsta dashboard
Enable the Kinsta APM tool from your MyKinsta dashboard

The easiest way to test the responsiveness of your site is to simply enter your site’s URL on your mobile device. However, if you want to test your site’s appearance from your desktop, you can do this using the WordPress Customizer.

You might like to run the first test after disabling the CDN. Then, you can re-test your site with the CDN enabled to see the difference. You’ll also want to test your CDN from different locations.

You can set up a local environment to test your UI elements. For example, you may want to develop a new navigation menu and try it out.

On the other hand, a staging environment provides a copy of your website’s data on a server (rather than a local machine). It’s a great place to run major version updates, configuration changes, and database migrations. Plus, if you design websites for clients, a staging site works well as a demo site to show clients how the site will look.

How To Set Up Testing Environments

Once you’re ready to apply changes to your live website, you can simply use the Push environment button in your dashboard.

How To Set Up a Testing Environment Locally