WordPress is both a blogging platform (located at WordPress.com) and also a self-hosted website creation software package that you can download and install to create your own custom website – you can find the actual package download and more detailed information at WordPress.org.
This duality between these two entities is what most often confuses people when it comes to WordPress, but in web development circles we are usually talking about WordPress as website creation software rather than the free blogging platform.
WordPress is the world’s most popular self-hosted blog software, and also a powerful CMS (Contant Management System) which now powers a large percentage of the Web. WordPress wasn’t always used in such a diverse manner and it’s only in the last few years that the software has become popular as a professional CMS system beyond its original purpose as self-hosted blogging software.
Today many top digital agencies use WordPress as it’s CMS of choice for clients, this is due to its ease-of-use for non technical user, extendibility, versatility and widespread availability of themes and template, plug-ins and easy availability of free online help and advice.
Not to mention WordPress is open source and absolutely free to download and install, which is great news for small businesses and private users.
WordPress runs on a standard Linux web hosting account, which is usually inexpensive to rent, easy to find and very reliable. In fact almost all web hosting companies will offer this kind of hosting, with some hosting companies even offering dedicated WordPress hosting.
I would recommend TSO Host or 5QuidHost as reliable and helpful WordPress web hosting companies with excellent support. 5 Quid Host will even give you a free hosting account to try, which is just about large enough for a small WordPress based website and is refreshingly free from adverts or restrictions.
You just need to make sure that your web host account includes PHP, (a web scripting language based on the server) at least 50mb of hosting space and one or more MySQL databases. You cannot install WordPress without a MySQL database, but don’t worry – you won’t have to mess with the database directly to install WordPress.
The most common way to install WordPress is via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) using web development software such as Dreamweaver, although many web hosting companies will provide a WordPress installation service free of charge. Taking this automated installation option is a good idea because uploading WordPress by FTP can take quite a while – up to 10 minutes depending on your internet connection.
To install your WordPress site you need to create an instance of a MySQL database, however if the web hosting company installed WordPress for you via an automated process you will not need to do this next step.
Creating a database can be quite daunting and fiddly if you have never done it before or you are not very technical building websites, however if you follow the numerous guides online and those usually supplied by your web hosting company, it’s surprisingly straightforward and easy to do.
The most important thing to remember when creating a database is to make sure your password is very, very hard to crack – in fact I would definitely recommend using this excellent secure password tool which can be found here.
A complex, multi-character password will be very difficult for a common hacker to break into, and believe me – you really don’t want someone in your WordPress database. This will invariably lead to a whole world of pain and problems, which take a long time to get sorted out later, if discovered at all.
An important note – make sure you keep safe all of the usernames, passwords and database details that will be supplied with your empty MySQL database installation – you will need these for the next step of installed WordPress.
When the WordPress installation files have been uploaded to your web hosting account and the empty MySQL database has been created, you’ll need to edit the WP config file located in the WordPress installation – this is named wp-config.php. You can open this file in your web design software such as Dreamweaver or in a text editor, where you’ll need to change the first few lines in the config.php file where you will see the following:
// ** MySQL settings - You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
/** MySQL database username */
/** MySQL database password */
/** MySQL hostname */
The ‘DB_NAME’ database name is the one you created when you created your MySQL database, and the ‘DB_USER’ and ‘DB_PASSWORD’ are also the same ones you supplied when creating your MySQL database instance.
You will notice that ‘DB_HOST’ is set to ‘localhost’ by default – this will be correct for the majority of WordPress installations, while with a few hosting companies localhost will be an IP address such as “10.201.1.84”, in which case this will need to be changed.
If you’re having trouble with your WP config.php file even though all of the database passwords and usernames appear correct, it could well be that ‘DB_HOST’ needs to be checked with the web hosting company and changed from ‘localhost’ to an IP address.
When the wp-config.php file has been correctly filled out, save the file and FTP it up to the WordPress installation, over-writing the existing file. The WordPress installation is now ready for the final install step below.
The final step installing WordPress is to navigate to your website name – or “URL” as it’s also known by. If your config.php file settings are correct and the database is working, you will see a WordPress installation screen prompting you to enter the name of your website along with the username, password, and email address.
These login details will be used to access the admin side of WordPress which will allow you to create pages, add themes and plug-ins and administer your nearly created website.
It’s important to make sure that you use a difficult to guess username and password – rather than something obvious such as “admin” or “password 1234”. Please also make sure your username and password are different to the ones used for your MySQL database. This handy WordPress admin tool can be used to create a difficult to crack set of admin logins.
If everything has gone well WordPress will now automatically finish installing software, and will automatically set up the admin ready for you to log in and start building your WordPress website!
Problems installing WordPress can be very frustrating – especially if this is the first time you’ve tried to set up a website yourself. The most common cause by far of a failed WordPress installation is the user not editing the config.php file correctly. It’s very important to make sure the username and password for the database are entered perfectly, and that localhost is correctly set. Even a comma and space in the wrong place in your config.php file will prevent WordPress installing.
Don’t worry though – even experienced WordPress developers can get caught out by this step!
For a more in-depth look at installing WordPress, please check out the video below – and don’t forget to share this article!