Edit a live Wordpress pages.

I am new to wordpress. I have a few questions about wordpress.
I want to edit appearance of a live  wordpress site. The site is theme based. My questions are..
1) Is there any way to copy the site to a test folder or subdomain before editing the appearance of the site?
2) If I change appearance of one page in that test folder/subdomain, will it change entire site? Is there a way that the changes done only in test folder? I do not want to disturb live site.
What is the best way to change pages appearance - one by one page or change in theme appearanace ?
3) I want to do this thing without any paid plugins.
4) If I take backup of pages by downloading the pages thru' FTP and if the site is disturbed while editing, can I upload the pages to restore the site?
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Rajesh JoshiAsked:
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
1) Is there any way to copy the site to a test folder or subdomain before editing the appearance of the site?

Yes, but it's not quite as simple as copying WordPress to a subdomain or folder.  You also have to copy the entire database to a separate instance as some design changes are done with templates, some with CSS, and some potentially through plugin options which are saved to the database.

I typically use WAMP or XAMPP to set up a local version of WordPress and copy the wp-contents folder and database down.  I then change my hosts file to map livedomain.com to localhost/wordpress and that gives me an instant testing site.

2) If I change appearance of one page in that test folder/subdomain, will it change entire site?

Depends on how you do it.  If you change the CSS globally,  yes.  If you change the base page template (page.php) in your theme, yes.  But WordPress allows you to specify specific templates for specific pages and specific CSS rules for specific pages so it is possible to scope your edits to one specific page. Specific.

This is a nice visual map with links to the WordPress codex:
http://wphierarchy.com/

This support thread discusses page-id specific CSS:
https://wordpress.org/support/topic/change-css-for-single-page

Is there a way that the changes done only in test folder? I do not want to disturb live site.

If you make a new instance of the site, you can change that instance to your heart's content.

What is the best way to change pages appearance - one by one page or change in theme appearanace?

Depends on what you want accomplish.  Sometimes you will want to make global changes, sometimes not.

3) I want to do this thing without any paid plugins.

Do-able, you just need to invest a lot of time and energy into researching how WordPress actually works.

4) If I take backup of pages by downloading the pages thru' FTP and if the site is disturbed while editing, can I upload the pages to restore the site?

Yes. All of your content is stored in the database, but the page and post templates in the theme folder control the look and feel. So backing up and restoring the original templates will allow you to instantly revert to a known good theme.
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Lucas BishopClick TrackerCommented:
1) Is there any way to copy the site to a test folder or subdomain before editing the appearance of the site?

Sure you can do a clean install of wordpress somewhere else (your local machine, test site, etc.), and import a copy of the database and theme/upload files and you'll have a working version of the live site that you can play with.

Then you'd make changes to the theme files and once you were happy with the look/feel, you'd copy the new theme files to the live site.

2) If I change appearance of one page in that test folder/subdomain, will it change entire site? Is there a way that the changes done only in test folder? I do not want to disturb live site.
What is the best way to change pages appearance - one by one page or change in theme appearanace ?

As long as your test site is using a test database (ie. not connected to live database in wp-config.php) any changes you make will only effect the test site.

The theme files you edit (stylesheet, header/footer, etc) will be based on the changes you want to make. For example if you want to change the color of a link, you'll likely be editing the style.css. If you want to change the layout of the header, you'll probably be editing header.php.

3) I want to do this thing without any paid plugins.

That's fine, you don't need to use a plugin. You can edit the appearance of the theme in the wp admin via "Appearance > Editor".

It can also be helpful to use something like firebug to help you identify what elements you want to change.

4) If I take backup of pages by downloading the pages thru' FTP and if the site is disturbed while editing, can I upload the pages to restore the site?

1.

Make a backup of all of the site files (ie. download everything via ftp and save this as an untouched archive).

2.

Make a backup of your database (ie. using phpmyadmin or using the wp admin) and save this as an untouched archive).
With these two backups, you'll have everything you need to restore the site if anything goes wrong.
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Rajesh JoshiAuthor Commented:
Thank you both experts !
I went deep in wordpress.
I am designing websites  for the last 15 years. Previously I was using MS frontpage. Now I am using Adobe Dreamweaver.
The way we create/modify pages in FP and DW, can we edit the pages on wordpress. I went deeper in wordpress but I did not found the way to modify like that.
Any idea to edit like that?

With warm regards,
Rajesh.
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Jason C. LevineNo oneCommented:
Front page and Dreamweaver are editing platforms.  WordPress is a content management system (CMS) and behaves in a fundamentally different way. You're used to editing individual files with content in each one.  In WordPress, the content is in the database and the theme files form a template.
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Lucas BishopClick TrackerCommented:
I recommend getfirebug.com for this process.
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Rajesh JoshiAuthor Commented:
Thank you both :)
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