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WordPress is a widely popular content management system (CMS), trusted by many of the world’s leading brands. Part of WordPress’s appeal is its simple installation and ease of use. You don’t need any technical knowledge to install WordPress or even to create a website from scratch. In this article, I’ll take you through the steps to install WordPress and provide some valuable tips on what to do after.
Why Creating Your Website With WordPress Is Worth It
WordPress (WP) is far from the only content management system on the market, but there are great reasons to choose this CMS. If nothing else, this platform already powers 40% of the internet. This figure includes renowned brands such as BBC America, PlayStation, the TED Blog, The Walt Disney Company, and Skype.
On a more practical note, WP is free. You’ll still need to purchase a domain name and a hosting plan to take your blog or website live. However, the content management platform is completely free to download, install, and use. WP operates under a General Public License (GPL). Under the terms of this license, you can:
- Use the software for any purpose, including for commercial purposes
- Distribute the software, including your derivative work, without paying anyone or asking permission
- Modify the software and release the modifications
- Redistribute the software’s source code
WordPress is free in two senses of the word. You don’t have to pay for the actual software (like getting free food), and you can do pretty much whatever you want with it (like free speech).
Considering that WP already powers 40% of the internet, how do you ensure that your website stands out? WordPress is highly customizable. It allows you to customize your website theme, font, homepage, scroll function, featured images, logo, background image, login page, display avatar, and almost any other element you can think of. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be able to create a custom website distinct from other blogs in your niche.
You don’t need any technical knowledge or experience to set up a WP website. Many people running successful WordPress websites can’t write a single line of code. WP also easily integrates with tens of thousands of available plugins. Plugins allow you to add functionality to your site in just a few clicks.
Lastly, there is almost no limit to what you can do with a WordPress website. You can start a blog, build an online store, create a business website, sell online courses, and so much more. In 2017, the total global ecommerce value was an estimated $23.8 trillion. This figure is expected to grow in the coming decades, and WP might be a chance to have your share of the lucrative ecommerce pie.
The Investment Needed to Install WordPress
Like I mentioned earlier, WordPress is free to install. Even so, there are costs associated with getting your website up and running.
First, you’ll need a web host. WordPress doesn’t run from your computer like Microsoft Word and other similar applications. You’ll need to store your website’s code, HTML, CSS, images, and other elements on the web to make it accessible to internet users. Your web host allocates this online real-estate (a server) to store your website.
Since you’re installing WordPress, you may want to stick with a WP-recommended web host. You can’t go wrong with Bluehost, DreamHost, and SiteGround. Even so, these are hardly your only options. You should check out our Best WordPress Hosting Services post to take you through the best hosting options currently on the market.
Web hosting starts as low as $2.59 per month for basic plans. You shouldn’t have a hard time finding an affordable plan that works for your needs.
Next, you’ll need a domain. A domain is your website’s address and is how visitors find your website. Facebook.com is an example of a domain name. Domain names start at $9 per year. Many web hosts offer a free domain name with their plans. You can also purchase a domain from your web host.
With these two requirements, you’re ready to download and install WordPress. The steps to installing WordPress include:
- Choose a Web Host
- Download WordPress
- Create a MySQL Database
- Transfer the WordPress Files to Your Database
- Run the Installation
- Complete the Installation
6 Steps to Install WordPress
Installing WordPress is easier than it sounds. You don’t need much technical knowledge to get started.
1. Choose a Web Host
Like we saw in the previous section, you’ll need a web host to house your website. I highly recommend Nexcess as your web hosting provider. This host offers some of the most affordable managed WordPress hosting plans available. I recommend managed hosting since your service provider takes primary responsibility for keeping your website up and running. You only need to focus on creating a beautiful site and promoting it.
Here are some of the tasks you’d have to perform without managed hosting:
- Deal with sudden surges in website traffic
- Perform WordPress core updates
- Backup your site
- Keep your plugins up-to-date
- Monitor your site for hacking attempts, security breaches, and malware
- Troubleshoot issues with your WP website, plugins, or themes
Nexcess takes care of all these and more on your behalf. This provider also offers affordable plans starting at $12.67 per month.
I will take you through the process using Nexcess, but the following steps will look more or less the same regardless of your web host.
2. Download WordPress
You’ll want to download the latest WordPress version, WordPress 5.7, at the time of this writing. You can download the WordPress Files here.
After the download, unzip the files and move them to an easily accessible location on your computer.
3. Create a MySQL Database
To put it simply, a MySQL database is where you’ll be storing and managing your website files on your server. The Nexcess control panel account is called SiteWorks. That is where you log in to create your MySQL database.
Once logged in, go to Hosting Features > MySQL > Databases from the main menu.
Next, enter the name of your new database in the Database Name field. The name “WordPress” should work just fine for this purpose. Please note that you won’t be able to enter any special characters or spaces. If you need to create spaces in your database name, use an underscore to indicate a space. For example, “my_database.”
Now tick the Create User box.
Finally, set the login credentials, including username and password. You can also assign permissions, although SiteWorks enables all permissions by default. You may want to leave the permissions as-is.
You can now find your database in the Existing Databases section of your main menu.
4. Transfer the WordPress Files to MySQL Database
The next step is to upload the WordPress files to the MySQL database you created in the previous step. Transfer the actual files inside the WP folder rather than the entire folder containing the files.
The easiest file transfer method is to use an FTP program. You’ll need a file transfer client like Cyberduck or WinSCP. For this example, I use the latter for Windows. A file transfer client encrypts files when you transfer them from your computer to the server. This reduces the risk of bots, malware, or hackers interfering with your sensitive WordPress files.
For this step, you’ll first need to download a file transfer client. You can download WinSCP for free. Install the program and then launch it to start the transfer process.
Next, click New from the startup menu.
Then, fill in the required fields as follows:
- Host name: This is your domain name or the name of your website. You can find it in your welcome email. It looks something like mywebsite.nexcess.net.
- Username and Password: Enter the username and password for the server you are trying to connect to. Your username and password will be the same ones you use to connect to your hosting account.
- Port: Enter 24
Then click Login after entering all your details.
You might receive an alert about connecting to a remote machine. Just click Yes to proceed.
You’re now connected to your Nexcess server. All you need to do is drag and drop the files from your computer to the destination folder. The destination folder is the WordPress folder you created in the MySQL database in the previous step. Remember to transfer the contents of the WordPress folder, not the entire folder.
5. Run the Installation
Open a new window in your preferred browser. Enter your domain name:
6. Complete the Installation
You’ll see the WordPress setup page after entering your WordPress URL. Choose your preferred language and click Continue.
Next, fill out the required fields, including your site title, username, password, and email address. You can leave the site title blank and change it later if you don’t yet have a good one.
The Search Engine Visibility option at the bottom determines whether your site will show up on search engines. If you want your website to show up on search engines, leave this option unchecked.
Click Install WordPress. You’ll receive a message on your screen letting you know that WordPress has been installed.
Log in to your account to begin building your website.
There are a few things you’ll need to do after installing WordPress to create a successful website.
Create Your Site Title
Your site title lets web users and search engines know what your website is about. The site title is what appears on the search engine when people type in relevant keywords. Choose a site title that’s relevant to your website. Also, this site title doesn’t have to match your URL exactly.
You can change your site title from your WP dashboard. Simply go to WordPress Settings > General.
While at it, create a short tagline for your website. The tagline is a brief description of your site. You can think of this as your website’s motto. If you can’t think of a tagline immediately, be sure to delete the default tagline and leave the field empty. Your default tagline will be “Just another WordPress website.”
Set Your Timezone, Date, and Time Format
Go to Settings > General to set the date, time format, and timezone. Setting the date is crucial since it lets your visitors know when you last published or updated your content. Also, setting your timezone allows you to use your site’s scheduling feature.
Install Your Theme
Your theme determines how your website will look. Choose one that’s relevant to your niche and the aesthetics you want to achieve. WordPress offers thousands of free and premium themes.
Go to Appearance > Themes > Add New to install your theme. You can search the theme by name if you already have one in mind. Alternatively, you can upload the .zip file of your premium theme that you purchased.
Remove Placeholder Content
Your WordPress website comes with placeholder content such as sample posts and pages. This content lets you know what your website will look like with your chosen theme.
Go to Posts > All Posts and delete the placeholder content.
This is also an excellent time to create your core pages and set the home page. Core pages include your “About Page” and “Contact” pages.
Install Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a free tool that gives you valuable insights about your visitors. The data includes how many people visit your website, how much time they spend, what they search for, where they come from, and much more.
You’ll first need to sign up for a Google Analytics account. You’ll be provided a Measurement ID for your Analytics account. Go to Property > Setup > Assistant > Tag Installation > Web to get your Measurement ID. Copy this ID to your clipboard.
From your WordPress settings, go to Tools > Marketing > Traffic and paste the Measurement ID.
Setup Your Website Backups
Your web host probably already offers free daily backups. Still, you may want to take primary responsibility for backing up your website. Backing up your website ensures that you can retrieve your website easily in case of a data loss from malware or other damage.
There are plenty of WordPress plugins to help you with this. Be sure to read the reviews before picking one for your website. Choose a backup option that lets you store your valuable files remotely, such as on Google Drive.
Edit Your Permalinks
Permalinks are the permanent URLs for your website’s individual pages, posts, tag archives, and categories. The default structure looks unsightly, such as mywebsite.com/?p=123. Also, default permalinks may be hurting your search engine rankings.
You can change your permalinks by navigating to Settings > Permalinks. WordPress will give you a list of alternative permalink structures to choose from, or you can create your own.