How to Install WordPress – Complete Guide
Getting started with a brand new WordPress blog might seem like a tough task. What if you don’t have any idea about how to set up a website? Will setting up your site be terribly complicated and take up a lot of your time before you can even start writing your first blog post?
Thankfully, the process needed to install WordPress is very simple and easy to follow even for a complete beginner who isn’t technically minded. It is estimated that around 500 new WordPress sites are set up each and every day of the year, meaning that lots of people carry out this process without a hitch.
You don’t need to be a developer or have experience in creating sites in order to get started on a new WordPress blog. Whether you are planning it as a business move or to let you write about something that you love, you can find out how to set up a website in no time.
To have your blog looking great and ready to use you just need to understand some of the main points and then follow a few simple steps.
Do I Really Need to Install WordPress?
Does it seem as though installing WordPress is an unnecessary step and a waste of time? Is there some other way of getting started with your blog that is easier to do? Well, there is but it isn’t right for everyone.
The first key point to understand here is the difference between WordPress.org and WordPress.com. They might sound very similar but there is a major difference between them when it comes down to how to get your new blog set up and then how to run it.
If you choose WordPress.com then there is no need to download and install the files. This is because they will host the site for you. Therefore, you can get started without downloading, uploading or installing anything at all.
Because of this, you can just do everything in your browser to get started and then run the blog. While this certainly sounds easier than having to install all of your files yourself, it does have some drawbacks.
For a start, you won’t have as much control over your site as you would have if you hosted it elsewhere. You will also have a less snappy site address.
With this method, WordPress is incredibly easy to get started with. On the other hand, the lack of control you have over the blog may make it feel as though you struggle to grow it or monetize it over time.
This takes us on to the other option, which is WordPress.org. This site lets you self-host your blog. All that this means is that you choose a company to host the site and then have complete control over it at all times, rather than leaving it all with WordPress to run.
You can choose from more themes and plugins, as well as having greater flexibility over how to earn money from your blogging if you do this.
The downside to this approach is that you need to download the files from the WordPress site in order to then upload them to your host’s web server. It isn’t a huge job, with many bloggers getting started in just a few minutes. After this, you also need to keep your blog secure and back it up regularly on your own, unlike with the WordPress.com approach.
It might sound rather complicated and technical but the truth is that installing WordPress in this way is very easy. You will be ready and able to start publishing content on your blog in no time once you understand how to do it.
Therefore, since the WordPress.com option doesn’t involve any sort of installation, we will concentrate on the process for the WordPress.org option for the rest of this article.
The Different Ways to Install WordPress
Once you have decided to use WordPress.org and a self-hosting approach, the basic choice that you have is to install WordPress manually or choose a 1-click installation process from a web hosting company. This might sound like an easy decision to make as one sounds a lot easier than the other. Yet, the fact is that there are pros and cons to each of the two different approaches.
Even the manual process is fairly easy to be fair, and it shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes using pretty standard tools and a few simple steps. Those new bloggers who are reasonably comfortable with technology should have absolutely no problem in doing this on their own.
There is also a lot of help and support available from WordPress, hosting services, and elsewhere on the internet. You may feel more comfortable carrying out the process after watching a tutorial video, but this isn’t strictly necessary.
The big benefit when manually installing WordPress is that you will feel more in control of the setup process in this way. Since you are in control every step of the way you get to set things up exactly as you want them, knowing that there won’t be any nasty surprises waiting for you later on.
There will be no need to go back and change anything later on when you have taken care to carry out the full installation process correctly. Of course, there is also the risk that you do something wrong when installing in this way, which won’t be a disaster, but could lead to you losing some time as you try to work out what went wrong.
Anyone who isn’t very comfortable with technology will be delighted to see that the 1-click installation process is very easy. You still need to add details such as usernames and passwords but you will be guided through it by your host.
The exact process differs from one site to another. However, a popular hosting service will ensure that their users can get started on a new WordPress blog very easily and without any delay.
Since WordPress is so popular, the option of installing it is usually located in a highly visible place on the host’s menu or dashboard. In some cases you just need to click here to carry out the setup, while with others you need to click in order to access the full instructions.
Either way, the end result should be virtually the same for either of these methods. The only real difference you might notice is that with a 1-click installation process you need to make some changes once you get the site set up.
Things That You Should Check Before Starting
There isn’t really a lot that you need to check before you start installing WordPress. The following are the main points that you should bear in mind though:
- Understand whether WordPress is right for you. There is no doubt that WordPress is wildly popular with bloggers. This is partly because it offers a very easy way to set up a new blog that suits most people perfectly. Yet, before you install it you will want to see that it really is the best option for your needs. There are other blogging platforms available, such as Blogger, Medium and Joomla.
- Your host has to support PHP version 7 or later and HTTPS, which most decent hosts will do. It also needs to be compatible with either MySQL version 5.5 or later, or with version 10.0 onwards of MariaDB. The WordPress site recommends Apache or Nginx servers and they also provide a list of a number of good hosts that can handle WordPress without any problems.
- Consider what the host’s setup process is like. Each hosting service has a different way of doing this, with the aim of making life easier for new blog owners. As mentioned earlier, many offer a 1-click installation process to install WordPress for you with no effort on your part. Others may offer useful features so that the manual process is easier to work through.
- Make sure that you are downloading the latest version of WordPress. This software is regularly updated so you will want to ensure that you are choosing the current stable version rather an out-of-date one or a Beta version that isn’t yet fully stable.
- Make sure you have enough time to complete the installation process. It should only take you around 5 minutes to get WordPress set up. Simply make sure that you have enough time to get to the end once you get started. You certainly don’t want to rush through it against the clock or have to leave it halfway through.
- Are you ready to start? Do you feel that you are ready to start adding content to your blog and reaching out to your audience? Since you will be set up very quickly there is no need to worry about having to start the installation process well in advance. You can do this when you are about to begin the blog, so that you aren’t paying hosting fees for too long before the site is ready to launch.
Quick Installation Solutions
If you want the quickest possible way of getting going then you can look at some of the quick installation solutions around. These are typically offered by hosting companies and let you get started even quicker than normal.
The tools for installing WordPress in this way are as easy to use as you could possibly hope for. Typically, you will just have to hit the download button and then fill in the details of your site.
They all tend to work slightly differently, so you should take a few minutes to look into it and fully understand what the different steps are. Either way, it should be easy enough to do this with any professional hosting service.
This is an ideal approach if you are itching to get started or not feeling very confident about doing it all yourself. However, if you want to go through the full process in order to understand it better and feel more in control then you will find that this is also quick and convenient.
If you use any of these quick install solutions then you may need to finish setting up your blog later to customize it for your needs once you sign in for the first time. This is because the quick installation is a standard process that is designed to give anyone a rapid start. Once it has been carried out you can then take your time in customizing the blog however you want to.
What You Need to Have Ready for a Manual Installation
You can’t just manually download the WordPress files and then start using them without doing anything else. This is because of the reasons we looked at earlier; you need to be able to upload the files to your hosting company’s web server to complete the installation process and start using your blog.
Therefore, there are a few things that you may need to get ready before you start the process of downloading from the WordPress site. However, we will see as we go through them that they aren’t always all necessary.
Remember that if you are using a host’s 1-click process to install WordPress then most or all of these points will be unnecessary for you.
Here are the things you will need:
- An FTP client
- A text editor
- A way of creating a MySQL database
- Any popular web browser
- A username, site name and passwords
This list might make it seem as though the WordPress setup process is starting to get too complicated. However, this isn’t really the case. Even if you aren’t familiar with some of the terms there is nothing to worry about once you look into them.
If we look at these items one by one, we can see that it probably takes longer to explain them than it does to use them. Most of them are very simple to use and only require one or two small steps on them anyway.
FTP is the most widely used transfer protocol around. It lets you transfer files quickly from your computer to your web server. The SFTP option is more secure than basic FTP as it is encrypted. An FTP client lets you use this protocol with a simple user interface that is easy to get to grips with.
Some FTP clients are free to use such as FileZilla, Cyberduck and FireFTP. They tend to be really simple to use and allow you to just drag and drop the files in order to move them from one place to another.
The text editor is needed to allow you to enter your database information onto the file that is created as standard. This is actually an optional step, as you have the choice of doing this later on in the WordPress setup process if you miss it out now. If you are going to do it on your own then Notepad on Windows is fine to use.
As for the MySQL database, this is needed to set up your blog’s username and password. Again, it isn’t the most difficult task you will ever carry out. However, since there are different databases available the exact process will depend upon which one you choose.
The good news is that you may find that this isn’t even necessary. This is because many hosting services will give you an easy solution for adding this information without using MySQL. If you do need to use it then each piece of software will come with its own instructions explaining what you need to do.
These tasks need to be carried out on a web browser, so you can use the likes of Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer or Firefox to do this. Some experts think that Firefox is best for using with a WordPress blog. However, if you have a favorite browser then it is just a case of giving it a try and seeing how it works for you.
Finally, it is a good idea to plan usernames and passwords in advance, so that you are ready to enter them when prompted. This means that you are far more likely to come up with good, secure passwords and memorable usernames than if you were to think of them in the moment that you are asked for them.
The Full Download Process
So, if you opt for the full download process rather than a 1-click process you need to carry out the following steps:
- Download the files from the WordPress site and then unzip them.
- Upload the WordPress files to your web server.
- Create a MySQL database and user.
- Edit the file wp-config-sample.php file to add in your database information.
- Run the WordPress installation script by typing your domain name into the browser with “/wp-admin/install.php” added onto the end of it.
Each of these steps is relatively simple. It may help you to look at them one by one, rather than feeling intimidated by the overall process. In this way you stand far less chance of getting confused or of doing things in the wrong order.
If you want detailed instructions on each of these areas then you will find them below. Otherwise, you can skip onto the next points after this.
Step-by-Step Instructions for the Manual Installation
Each of these steps needs to be carried out correctly in order for you to proceed. If you want to install WordPress manually but aren’t completely confident about doing it then you should take your time and follow these steps closely.
- Download and unzip files. You can download the latest WordPress files from their official site or from a trusted site that links to them. Once they are in the Downloads folder of your computer you will see that they are contained in a zip folder. You need to unzip this so that you can upload the files to your web server.
- Upload files to your web server. You need to use a FTP client for this. You should look for the files using your FTP client and then connect to your web server. It is then just a question of dragging the files across to their destination in order to upload them.
- Create a MySQL database and user. This is perhaps the step that most new bloggers fear. Yet, it is actually relatively easy to carry out. Some hosting services make this even easier for you but if yours doesn’t then you have to choose “Create Database” and then create a user with a secure password. Make sure that they have sufficient permissions to modify the database before adding them. You then connect it to WordPress.
- Edit the file wp-config-sample.php. You need to change the name of this file to wp-config.php and then open it in a text editor such as Notepad. You will find the file in the same location as the other files you originally downloaded from WordPress. You then add in your database name, username, password and host. If you miss out this step then you will be prompted for the information during the installation process.
- Run the WordPress installation script. You need to type your site address followed by “/wp-admin/install.php” into your browser. As an example, for this site it would be https://gigworker.com/wp-admin/install.php. If WordPress is already installed on the site then you will be advised of this. You will now be asked for the few remaining details: email address, name of administrator and password.
Once this is done WordPress will be fully installed. You can now enter into the admin area of your blog typing the address followed by “/wp-admin”.
Log in using the details that you have just added and you will be taken to the dashboard, ready to add content and manage the site however it suits you to do so.
What Are the Most Common Problems with the WordPress Setup Process?
The vast majority of bloggers should have absolutely no problems in getting going, even if they have no idea how to set up a website. The process is simple enough so there are not many ways that it can go wrong.
However, there are a few possible problems to be aware of. These are the areas where people sometimes make a mistake that leads to the installation process grinding to a halt before it is fully completed.
- Using the wrong installation URL. As we have seen, you need to enter your domain name with “/wp-admin/install.php” added onto it in order to complete the installation. If you get stuck at this stage and can’t work out what has gone wrong then there is a chance that you simply typed the address incorrectly.
- Editing the wp-config-file incorrectly. If you choose to edit this file then any error will lead to the details not matching up. You should also change the name to exactly “wp-config.php” so that WordPress can find it later. Failure to do this will lead to problems.
- The web server doesn’t support WordPress. As mentioned earlier, most hosting sites support WordPress these days. However, if you can’t work out why you can’t get installed then it is worth checking this point for the host you are using.
- Not finding the WordPress files. At the very start of the process you need to download the files from the WordPress site. What if you can’t then locate them, though? They should go directly to your Downloads folder automatically. If they aren’t sitting there then check your browser’s setting to see if downloads are currently being directed elsewhere.
The huge number of WordPress users in the world means that finding help and support isn’t usually too difficult to do. There are lots of blogs, forums and tutorial videos on the internet that you can turn to for help when needed.
Since there are only a limited number of things that can go wrong, it usually isn’t too difficult to find out what happened and how to fix it. For example, if you look at some of the online forums there is a good chance that you will find someone else asking about the same issue that you have encountered.
WordPress has its own installation forum in its support section. You will also find people talking about this subject on a number of other forums.
Given how many people have installed WordPress over the years it is extremely unlikely that you will come across any new problems that haven’t been seen before now.
If you can’t work out what went wrong then going back to the start and doing it all over again can be the easiest solution of all. It may be that you have made a simple little mistake that you can avoid the second time that you try to get set up.
What Comes Next? Installing Themes
By the time that you get to this stage WordPress is now fully installed and ready to use. You can add content to it right away if you like. Some bloggers prefer to start off by looking at choosing a good theme first of all though.
If there is a certain style that you have been dreaming of for your site then now is the moment to make it reality. There are numerous different themes that you can choose from, so how do you go about finding and then installing one that you love?
This is very easy to do once you have installed WordPress. You need to log in to your site and from the dashboard go to “Appearance” followed by “Themes”. There is a huge selection here, so if you know the name of the theme you are after this will help you to locate it quickly.
If you don’t have a specific theme in mind you can just scroll through them until something catches your eye. Alternatively, if you know some of the features you want or the layout design you are after then you can filter the search on these elements to get a smaller selection to choose from.
Once you are satisfied with what you see the next step is to click on “Install”. This will add the theme to your site so that all you now need to do is “Activate” it in order for your layout to be updated instantly.
There is also the possibility that you find a WordPress theme you love elsewhere. This being the case, you just need to go into the “Themes” section and then choose “Install Themes”. There is an “Upload” button here that then allows you to browse your computer’s files for the one you want to add.
Once you have uploaded the new theme you can then choose “Install Now” followed by the “Activate” button. Having done this you are ready to go. If you want to change to a different theme at any point in the future then this is easy to sort out too.
What Comes Next? How to Install WordPress Plugins
As part of the process of installing WordPress you might also wonder how to install WordPress plugins that interest you. There are many of them that promise to make life easier for you, so it makes sense to add on the best ones as soon as you can.
You can do this with no fuss directly from the admin area of your blog. Look for the Plugins heading on the left-hand side of your dashboard. You need choose “Add New” under this heading.
You can now look through the list and choose the ones that you need. Since there are so many of them it is worth taking a few minutes to think about what you want to add, rather than risk getting confused by seeing page after page of options.
You then look for the button that says “Install Now”. After you press this, many of the plugins will be ready to use. In other cases you might need to carry out an extra process, which should be noted in the plugin’s instructions.
Installing WordPress and getting started is extremely simple and convenient. Even if you aren’t very technically minded you should have no worries about doing this. Certainly, you shouldn’t let fear of the installation process put you off the idea of starting your own blog.