WordPress 101: Installing WordPress, Optimizing & Adding Essential Plugins in 30 min or less (Part 1)

Installing WordPress for the first time should not be a daunting task. Although some fine tuning may be required this process should be easy and straightforward.

By Navid  |   0  |  Published in Web Design, Web Development,

WordPress is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  It is the most versatile, handy and popular Content Management System (CMS) system on the web today.  In fact WordPress is so capable that it can be adapted to be used for a small blog all the way to super busy publications like CNN, NY Times and so much more.  Installing WordPress opens all kinds of doors.  WordPress can be morphed into pretty much any type of a site and that is why it is absolutely my go-to platform.

WordPress itself is simply a platform with many functionalities.  Imagine a chassis of a car – with the engine, wiring, fuel tank and everything else – but no body.  How those WordPress functionalities get manifested or accentuated as website is mostly the function of a WordPress Theme (picture a vehicle’s body on top of the platform).  In fact, Themes are what make WordPress take its many forms – depending on what is needed – ranging from a personal blog to a directory to an e-commerce site.  I will talk more about themes in another post.

So, let’s get started.

A Word About WordPress Hosting

Before installing WordPress, let’s cover some basics.  What is hosting?  Your domain name is simply an address (imagine a home address).  Hosting is where (the server location in the form of an IP) that the address points to (like the physical house).  Therefore, there are actually two things you need before getting started: 1) a domain name, and 2) a hosting package.

Although most hosting packages from the big name web hosting companies are pretty much about the same, there are subtle differences in the server environments that can make WordPress function more smoothly.  My blanket recommendation would be to find a hosting company that offers “WordPress hosting” at a reasonable price.  This should indicate (in a nutshell) that the hosting company has created a suitable environment specifically for WordPress installation.  From experience, Your Mileage Will Vary (YMWV).  Some environments are better than others but can also be far more costly that what you may need.  So, choose wisely.  Installing WordPress under all kinds of environments should more or less yield the same result.

Before installing WordPress you should note that the basic requirements of a WordPress environment (at the time of writing this article) are PHP 5.2.4 and greater and MySQL 5.0 or greater.

WordPress Download

After choosing a domain name, and deciding on a hosting plan/environment, next comes installing WordPress.  Simply visit WordPress.org and download yourself a fresh copy of the latest version of WordPress.  You will need an unzip utility to decompress this package.  Both Windows and Mac OS’s do have inherent capabilities to unzip so you should not need any specialized utility or software to do this.

Uploading WordPress

The software package that you just downloaded now needs to be uploaded to your hosting environment.  This requires specialized software popularly known as an File Transfer Protocol (FTP) Client software.  There are many options out there – both paid and free.  You may want to look at one of the most popular free version called FileZilla.  Since everyone’s requirements differ, I would suggest looking around and comparing features before settling on a final choice.

Assuming that you now have downloaded an FTP client and installed it on your computer, you will now need to create a connection to your hosting environment.  By now you should have received an email from your hosting company giving you the FTP credentials needed for this step.  This typically means an IP address, a username and password a the minimum.  You will need to enter these details into your FTP Client and then connect to your host.  Since hosts vary greatly, I would recommend you contact your web host support and ask for help in setting up this step if you get stuck.

Installing WordPress

Assuming you have now uploaded the WordPress package into the main directory of your site (or a subdirectory), visit your site and the installation script should automatically load for you.  Please note that if you have installed WordPress in a specific folder (for example: /blog) you will need to visit YOURDOMAIN/blog for this to work.  Installing WordPress can only be initiated by navigating to the correct directory.

Before moving forward and installing WordPress, you will need to create a database on your server for your WordPress installation.  Again, because host vary greatly in terms of the server admin software (e.g. Plesk, CPanel, etc), you will need to ask your host for help here (if you think you need help).  There is a detailed instruction for most popular server environments here (step 2) in case you want to give it a try yourself.

Once your database is created, you will need to plug those credentials into your WordPress installation script on your site.  This means, the location of the database (usually LOCALHOST), database name, username/password.  You will then need to create a username and password for your WordPress installation.  This is your administrative credential and I cannot stress enough how important it is that you choose a unique and strong password for this.

Running WordPress for the First time

Congratulations!  You have succeeded in installing WordPress on your website!  Since WordPress comes with pre-installed free theme(s), you should already be able to see your site’s front-end.  This typically means seeing a “Hello World” post, which you will most likely need to delete later.  So far, installing WordPress hasn’t been that hard now has it?!

Your WordPress is administered through the WordPress Dashboard located on YOURDOMAIN/wp-admin (using the credentials that you set).

Setting Up The Basics

Installing WordPress: check!  WordPress should now be working but it is important that a few minor adjustments be made to the script in order to optimize its functionalities.  Most critical settings in WordPress are handled under the Settings menu – from the WordPress Dashboard.

installing WordPress

You will need to go through each of the sub-settings to adjust WordPress settings such as title and description of the site.

— In part 2 of this article, I will discuss the most essential plugins that I think should be added after installing WordPress.  Finally, I will discuss making final adjustments before fully launching the site.



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