How to Set Up (or Install) a New WordPress Website

So you want to set up a new WordPress website, eh? To be honest, you don’t really need a guide to install WordPress, but having a guide saves you a little bit of the fumbling around that inevitably happens when you try things without one.

Before I can guide you, you have to help me out a little. Click on the option that matches your situation:

I want to set up a new WordPress website on..

  1. a hosted server (like DreamHost, BlueHost, Siteground, etc).
  2. my local machine (aka my computer).

Installing WordPress on a hosted server

This tends to be a pretty easy process. Most hosting service providers have WordPress as a 1-click Install. Go into your cPanel and look for either something that says 1-Click Installs, Simple Scripts, Softaculous, or WordPress. If you found 1-Click Installs, Simple Scripts, or Softaculous, click on that and then find WordPress.

In Siteground

Siteground has a link in cPanel called WordPress Installer (which is really just a shortcut for the WordPress installer from Softaculous), here’s what it looks like:

Softaculous WordPress Installer inside Siteground

Once you click on Install Now, here’s what you see:

WordPress Installer Screenshot from Siteground

You simple fill out all the fields (you can click on Advanced Options, to see the database information and customize it if you need [handy if you’re using my tutorial on how to clone/backup a WordPress install]) and click Install. The installer takes care of the rest for you. Then you go to the link the installer provides and finish up the remaining setup (choosing a language) and then log in!

In Dreamhost

Here’s how it works in Dreamhost (for a different perspective). Dreamhost doesn’t use cPanel, they have their own setup. You click on Goodies and then One-Click Installs.

Backend of Dreamhost Web Hosting

You’ll be presented with the different options Dreamhost has, which includes WordPress:

Dreamhost one-click install options

The window for installing WordPress is comparatively simpler in Dreamhost. It only asks where you want to install it, and then sends you an email with a generated username and password to log in, initially. It’s recommended that once you’ve logged in, you create your own username/password combo and delete the generated one – much easier on your mind.

Dreamhost WordPress installer

That’s it! Most hosts will do some variation of these two methods and it shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out.

Installing WordPress Locally (on your own computer)

Installing WordPress locally can be done in a lot of different ways. There are plenty of fancy methods available now to help you manage local installations in whatever way works best for your workflow and needs.

I’m going to show you two ways:

  1. Manually installing WordPress on a local server.
  2. Using a tool that whips up a virtual server and easily let’s you develop.

Manual Install

This is how most people did it a few years ago. We installed an application called MAMP (stands for Macintosh, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) or WAMP (Windows, Apache, MySQL, and PHP) and then ran the Installer script WordPress provides. It’s a relatively painless method.

There’s no need to rehash what’s already been written. WordPress.org has a fantastic tutorial, one that I used to learn how to do this myself, many years ago. The longest part of the process is downloading the MAMP/WAMP application. You should have a local version up and running in under 10 minutes.

The one problem with this is, I often found it a pain to run multiple installs. It’s not hard, but sometimes they would conflict or you needed different things for each, and it didn’t allow you to test everything you would be able to on a live server. So I moved on to a different solution:

Using ServerPress or Local by Flywheel

I started out using ServerPress but then quickly moved onto Local by Flywheel when it was released, and my current tool of choice remains Local by Flywheel.

These tools whip up a new environment for each installation you have and make it easier to debug things, and switch configurations. I absolutely love Local. It has a mail catcher – so I can test emails without being on a live server or checking an inbox. It has one-click self-signed SSL certificates, so I can test things in an SSL environment when needed, it allows me to switch between Apache and NGINX, depending on where the live site will be hosted, it has a ngrok built in, so I can share live links to my local install when I need to share it with clients or with Bobbi. I can have multiple WordPress installs running simultaneously – each with their own environment.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m a fan.

It’s very important that you know how to set up WordPress manually, that’s a skill any budding developer should have, but once you know how to – once you understand the fundamental concepts behind the installation process, switching to a tool like Local makes life easier.

And that’s it! Now you know how to install WordPress on a live server or locally on your machine. It’s not very hard, but having a rough guide to follow sure does make it easier the first few times around.

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