So you’re ready to install WordPress and get building. Fantastic. If you have your domain name and hosting set up, then let’s get started!
*If you still need to do this, you can follow my tutorial on registering a domain name and finding a host.
Maybe it’s Just a Button
While this tutorial is about installing WordPress yourself, some hosts have a neat little button you can click that does the installation for you. If that’s the case with your host, I recommend doing that. Make your life easy and get building as soon as possible, that’s my motto.
A word of caution! Your host may offer to install themes, plugins, or extra goodies to get you started. If you intend to do my Beginner Course, decline these. They can make the experience confusing.
If you installed WordPress this way, then you can skip the steps below. Just make sure to read the sections on usernames and logging in!
If you’re not so fortunate as to have a handy button, then follow the directions below. I’ll show you what to do.
Manually Installing WordPress
Step One: Create the Database
WordPress has two parts that make up your site. There’s the front end, which is what visitors see and how you manage the site. Then there’s the back end, which consists of a MySQL database. The database stores all the information about your site: users, posts, page content, and information about any images you upload.
It may sound a little scary, but creating a database on modern web hosts is pretty easy. There’s usually a wizard that takes you through step by step. You may need to ask your host’s support team where to find it.
Here’s some info you should be prepared to enter as you set it up:
- Database Name: Just use the name of your site, like tastyhotdogs.
- User Hostname/New Hostname: Choose New Hostname. The hostname should be mysql.yourdomain (replace with your domain name).
- User/Password: If there’s already a user listed, I recommend creating a new user that’s unique to you.
- If there’s a setting to choose privileges, make sure you have all of them selected, or administrator privileges (varies by host).
Make a note of all this info, you’ll need it later when you set up WordPress.
That’s it! It may take a few minutes, but your host will now contain an empty database ready for WordPress.
Step Two: Install WordPress
Now let’s install the software that will run your site. First, go to https://wordpress.org/download. Click that big blue button and download the file to your computer. Inside that zip file are all the files you need to install WordPress. Unzip that file.
You’ll need to get those files uploaded to your site. Your web host will have a feature called FTP, which will allow you to access to all the files on your site. The easiest way is through your web browser. If that’s an option through your web host, choose that.
If you can’t do it on your host’s site (rare) there are free FTP programs you can use. I recommend CyberDuck or FileZilla. You’ll need to enter your FTP credentials in the program to access your site. Check with your web host to find out what the settings should be for your site.
Navigate to the main folder of your site. It will probably be in a folder called tastyhotdogs.com (or whatever you named your domain) It will likely be empty, with the exception of a couple of favicon files. You can ignore these.
Drag the files and folders inside the WordPress folder on your computer to your site folder.
Note: DO NOT transfer the WordPress folder itself. You need to transfer the files inside that folder.
Now you’re ready to set up and run the WordPress installation.
Connect to the Database
In your browser, enter the URL http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php (replace yourdomain with whatever your actual domain is). You’ll be asked for the database information you noted earlier.
Database Host is the name you set earlier when you created the database. It looks like mysql.yourdomain.com. (replace with your specific info) You can leave Table Prefix with the default wp_ as it is. After you’ve filled out the form, click Submit.
The Install WordPress Screen
In the next screen that appears, you need to fill out the fields for Site Title, Username, Password and Email. For better site security, it’s a good idea to use a different username than you did for your database.
A Very Special Note on Usernames and Passwords
It seems like a no-brainer that you would just use your name for your username, like djbillings. There’s nothing wrong with that. However, I strongly urge you to create a username that is super hard to guess. For example, if your name is all over your site, guess what username a hacker will try first? Instead, try something like djbillings_THX1138.
And passwords? Please, for the love of Michael J. Fox, do NOT use “password.” You might as well hand over the keys to the Delorean right now. Also, don’t use something a hacker can figure out by reading your blog, like a pet’s name or your favorite Disney villain. I highly recommend using a password manager like 1Password to store your passwords. They’ll even generate impossible-to-guess passwords for you.
Logging into WordPress
After you click the Install WordPress button, you’ll be taken to a login screen. Enter the username and password you just created.
If you installed WordPress through your host, you’ll probably get an email asking you to login and set a password. Do that.
If all went well, you should now be in your WordPress admin dashboard!
Your version may look slightly different on first open, but the left side menu will mostly be the same.
In the future, you can log in to your site using the URL http://yourdomain.com/wp-admin.
Now that you have WordPress installed, you can start to build your website!