WordPress is both the most popular blogging platform available on the internet as well as being the most popular content management system, it is also 100% free. WordPress is so popular because it is very straight forward and easy to use and is extremely flexible due to its vast plugin library that allows you to personalise your site and add the functionalities it needs. These plugins allow you to expand WordPress from blogging software to a framework for all kinds of other site formats such as online stores, wiki sites, message boards and more. You can see all the available WordPress plugins at wordpress.com/plugins or inside the WordPress admin panel under plugins once installed.
There are 2 ways you can install WordPress:
Remotely via web hosting
In order for your blog to be on the internet and accessible to other users you need web hosting, you can get general web hosting or WordPress specific hosting that is optimised for WordPress. For more info on what kind of web hosting to go for check out the guidance page.
Once you have chosen your hosting provider it is time to install WordPress. This is an extremely simple process with the vast majority of hosts, especially WordPress specific hosting. If your hosting plan has cPanel look out for an application within cPanel called Softaculous;
with this useful tool you can install all the most popular open source applications including of course WordPress. If you don’t have cPanel there will be a tool for automatic installation of WordPress somewhere on your control panel. If it is WordPress specific hosting it should be very straight forward to create a new installation of WordPress, usually there is a one click installation button. Provider specific information can be found in their FAQ’s.
During the installation you will be asked for information about yourself and your site. Fill this information out and follow the steps.
Once you have followed these steps you should have a running WordPress site.
This is where you install WordPress onto the computer you are using acting as a virtual server. There is much benefit to installing WordPress locally to mention a few; you can edit and test your website in an environment not accessible to anyone but yourself meaning you won’t have a half finished live site whilst you are building it which would not look professional, especially as there is a chance your unfinished site could get indexed in google and users would be directed to your unusable site. Having a local environment is also essential because when making changes to your WordPress site and plugins you may cause an error crashing the site, with a local test environment you can ensure the site works before updating the live version.
Local Installation Guide
To install WordPress on your computer/laptop locally you will first need a program for your computer operating system that emulates a server environment locally. There are plenty of programs that do this such as MAMP, XAMP, LAMP and many other letters preceding AMP. My personal favourite is MAMP which has a free version and a paid version, the free version is more than enough for running WordPress and is what I will demonstrate with.
Once you have downloaded your program of choice you will need to find the root folder where your files will be stored. On MAMP for Mac you can find this folder inside your applications folder>MAMP>htdocs:
Once inside the MAMP application folder you will find a folder called htdocs, this is your root folder:
On MAMP for windows you will find your root folder by going to ‘This Computer” and double click on the hard disk containing your operating system (most likely C). Inside this file you will find a folder called MAMP and inside of that ‘htdocs”, the root.
Inside of this root folder we will be putting the WordPress files. You can download these files from wordpress.org/download/The files will arrive in a compressed archive folder, you will need to expand these first before copying the contained files over to your htdocs.
The last thing you need to do before you can run the WordPress installation is create a database for it to use to store the data from the blog. Open up MAMP, click ‘Start Servers’ and then click ‘Open WebStart page’
Click PHPMYADMIN on the menu under tools.
Click Databases on the top menu
Name your database and click create, take a note of this database name as you will need it for the installation.
Now that’s done the install can begin!
Open up your MAMP start page and this time on the menu select ‘MY WEBSITE’. This should take you to either to the WordPress installer or it may show you a list of sites installed on MAMP, select the one which has the same name as the folder you installed the WordPress files inside of.
On the install screen you need to input your name, your password, your email, your site name, your database name, the username which is ‘root’ and the password which is also ‘root’. Following the installation you should be taken to the WordPress admin panel to get cracking.
There are also simpler dedicated programs purely for installing WordPress locally that will allow you to perform the install in one click, if you are interested in getting a dedicated program have a look at Bitnami.
Migrating your site from local to a web host.
If you plan on having a local site you will need to be able to upload these files to a hosting provider at some point and to do so you will need to transfer the files and the database to the server. A tutorial will be uploaded for this shortly.
Admin Control Panel
To access the WordPress control panel you can select the url in your browser when on the blog index and add”/wp-admin/“ to the end of it and press enter it will take you to the login screen for the admin panel. You will have set up your username and password on installation. You use the menu down the left hand side to navigate your way round the back end and its pretty straightforward as you can see.
WordPress will have been installed with the standard stock theme called TwentyEighteen. You can of course crack on and use this theme however you would be among millions sharing the design which is not desirable or good for seo. There are loads of places you can pick up a new theme and you can find loads free of charge on wordpress.org/themes and various other independent sites. There are also plenty of options for premium themes such as Themeforest & TemplateMonster that can vary in price depending on features and quality. You can spend hundreds on themes but this is generally not necessary and I would say that you don’t often need to spend more than £50 for a genuinely good theme if you look in the right place.
There is a very popular plugin for WordPress that allows users of any ability to change and customise most aspects of your site and change the layout of elements in your site using a drag and drop builder. In order to use this plugin you will need to have a theme that was made to be compatible with it. This will often be in the title of the theme or in its feature list. This allows you to have a site tailored to you without knowing how to code or hire a developer.
As stated previously plugins allow WordPress to expand into whatever you need it to be such as the WooCommerce plugin which turns your blog into an online store. You can get some really useful tools on the plugin marketplace including: SEO tools, analytics tools, image sliders and many more. See the wordpress plugin library at wordpress.org/plugins or navigate to plugins in your wordpress admin panel.
Hopefully this is enough information to get you started. Any questions, leave a comment.