Once your web hosting is up and running it’s time to install WordPress. Some hosts will do this automatically for you but I prefer to do it manually. You’ll learn more about how everything works and if something breaks in the future you’ll stand a better chance of fixing it.
Once your web hosting is all up and running it’s time to install WordPress! If you’ve used the one-click automated install referred to in Part 4 you can skip forward to ‘Final WordPress configuration’ below. If you’re following the full manual method here are the steps involved:
- Download some FTP software
- Download WordPress from wordpress.org and unzip the files
- Prepare the WordPress files for upload
- Upload the WordPress files (using FTP) to your website
- Configure WordPress and start building your website
You can watch the process of me building this website in the video below, or follow along with the article below.
Download some FTP software
We briefly mentioned this earlier, but in order to upload files to your website you need to use FTP software. FTP (File Transfer Protocol) is simply a method of moving files over the internet and it’s a common way of uploading content to your own website. You only need to use it for the installation process and potentially for any future troubleshooting.
I generally use FileZilla and it works just fine. There are lots of other pieces of FTP software out there but I’ll be showing you the process with FileZilla. Be careful not to install all of the optional extras that come with the software. I’m not a fan of bloatware. Once you’ve installed it you should have something like this:
FileZilla is very simple. The left hand side of the screen is your local computer. The right hand side of the screen is your actual website. The bottom of the screen shows progress and messages about file transfers. You connect to your website using the button at the top left.
For now go to File -> Site Manager. Hit the ‘New site’ button, call your site anything you like. In this example I’ll call it ‘Siteground’. Then enter your FTP Host name, Username and Password that you made a note of earlier. It should look something like this:
Click connect and that should be you hooked up to your web hosting account. Your details should be saved for future use. If you receive a certificate error normally you can just ‘always trust this certificate for future sessions’ and click OK:
As long as the connection works and you can see a bunch of files and folders in the right hand panel, that’s us done for now. We’ll come back to this later. You can close FileZilla for now.
We briefly mentioned this in part 1 so you may have already downloaded WordPress. If you haven’t then you need to do that now.
- Visit wordpress.org
- Click ‘Get WordPress’
- Click the big ‘Download WordPress x.x.x’ button
- Unzip the downloaded .zip file to a folder on your computer
Prepare the WordPress files for upload
You should now have a bunch of WordPress files in a folder on your computer. We need to change a few things and then upload them to your website.
Create your wp-config.php file
WordPress needs to know how to connect to your database. We do this using the wp-config.php file. Look for the file called wp-config-sample.php – it should look a bit like this:
Make a copy of the wp-config-sample.php file and rename it to wp-config.php, so you should now have this:
You need to edit your wp-config.php file. Double click it and open it using a text editor such as WordPad. Don’t use anything fancy like Microsoft Word as it can end up adding formatting that could stop the file from working. You just need a simple text editor with NO formatting. The file should look something like this:
Add your database details to wp-config.php
Simply copy / paste your database details in to the MySQL section in the parts that say ‘database_name_here’, ‘username_here’ and ‘password_here’, like this:
Add some unique keys and salts
We need to add some Unique Keys and Salts. What are they I hear you ask? They’re used for authentication, encryption and security – that’s all you need to know. Have a look for this section of the file:
The parts that say ‘put your unique phrase here’ needs to be replaced with random characters. You can either make up some random unique phrases, or (as is infinitely easier) visit this link and have them generated automatically. You’ll notice every time you refresh that page the characters change. Copy ALL of that text to the clipboard:
Then simply paste your unique phrases over the top of that entire section in the wp-config.php file (all the lines that start with ‘define’. So it should now look like this… but obviously don’t use these salt keys, use your own:
Change the WordPress table prefix
Finally, for security reasons we’re going to tell WordPress to use a different table prefix in the database. By default WordPress will create tables in your database starting with ‘wp_’. This is a security risk so we’re going to change it. Look for the section that says ‘$table_prefix’ and add a few random characters after the ‘wp_’. Keep an underscore at the end, so it should now look something like this:
That’s us done! You can close the wp-config.php file and make sure you save your changes.
Upload your WordPress files to your website
It’s time to put all of your WordPress files on your website. This is simply a drag & drop job. Time to use FileZilla again. Load it up and connect to your website as we did before.
In the left hand panel navigate to the folder that contains all of your WordPress files.
Describing what to do next gets a little bit tricky since it can vary from host to host. In the right hand panel if you see a ‘public_html’ folder double click on it.
If you have a hosting package that allows you to have multiple websites there may be an additional folder (such as mywebsite.com) for each website. If so, double click the folder for your website. If there’s a public_html folder in that folder double click that too. If you’re struggling to find your website root directory I’d suggest doing a quick test before you upload the WordPress files (see below).
Test your website first
It’s a good idea to test that you’re putting the files in the right place. To do that simply create a file on your website called ‘index.html’. Just put some random text in the file. Create the file on your local computer and then drag & drop it to your web hosting.
Then open a web browser, visit your website and you should see the random text you put in the index.html file. If you don’t hit F5 to refresh. If you still don’t, hit Ctrl+F5 to force a cache refresh. If you still don’t, you’ve probably put the file in the wrong place. If you get totally stuck have a look at the support documentation for your web host. Worst case you can raise a support call with them.
Once you’re finished with the test index.html file that you made, you can delete it from your web host.
A couple of words of warning
- FileZilla can be quite twitchy with disconnections if you leave it for too long without doing anything. If you find nothing is happening or things aren’t working as expected try re-connecting (top left).
- Don’t delete or modify ANY files on your web hosting unless you know what you’re doing. If you delete something important your website won’t work and you’ll probably need to raise a support call with your web host.
Drag & drop your WordPress files to your web host
Once you know you’re in the right place you can drag & drop ALL of your WordPress files to your web host (including your modified wp-config.php file). DON’T include the folder with the two little dots next to it (..). In the world of FTP a folder with ‘..’ two little dots means ‘go up a level in the directory structure’:
It’ll take 5-10 minutes to upload all of the files, depending on the speed of your internet connection. Once it’s done, open a web browser and hit F5 – you should see the start of the WordPress installation screen.
What if things don’t work?
Editing the wp-config.php file is the most likely area where things can go wrong. Miss off a single semi-colon or accidentally delete an inverted comma and it won’t work. Get your database details wrong and it won’t work. Sometimes, rather than battling through the file looking for your mistake, it’s normally easier to make a new copy of the file and start again. It should only take a couple of minutes to edit.
Another very common reason for things not working is that you’ve copied the WordPress core files to the wrong place. Have a look at the ‘Test your website first’ section above.
If you’ve been tearing your hair out for hours and are really struggling with this then it might be worth raising a support call with your web host. They’re normally very helpful and can point you in the right direction straight away. Normally it’s something simple.
Another option is to get your web host to install WordPress for you. I’ll not cover the details of how to do that in here. SiteGround have options to create a pre-installed WordPress website directly from the control panel. Some hosts will install WordPress on your behalf for a small fee.
The disadvantage of this is that you’ve learned nothing about why it didn’t work in the first place. You’ll learn much more by diagnosing and resolving the problems for yourself. However if you’re in a rush there’s no shame in admitting defeat and getting some extra help. Either way, once you’re done you should end up on the screen shown below.
Final WordPress configuration
If everything’s gone according to plan, open a web browser, visit your website and you should be looking at something like this:
Select your language of choice and continue through the configuration process. You should then see a box like this:
- Site Title – Enter an appropriate title for your website
- Username – This is going to be the ‘master’ username used for logging on to and updating your website. Pick something that isn’t guessable such as ‘mys1teadm1n’. Don’t use that – make up your own!
- Password – Make up a strong password
- E-mail – Use the WordPress Admin e-mail address you created in part 4. In my example it was firstname.lastname@example.org
- Search Engine Visibility – tick this box, it’s a good idea to discourage search engines from finding your site until it’s finished
- Make a note of all of the above in your magic password file. You can then click ‘Install WordPress’.
Login to your new WordPress website!
That’s it! You’re done! You have the shell of a website and the good news is that everything else is now done through the main WordPress administration interface (via a web browser). You can login to your website at:
If you remove the ‘wp-admin’ bit you should be able to see your new, empty website. Bookmark your admin page since you’ll use it all the time. Logon with the username and password you created in the previous step.
Final tidy-up of your WordPress site
Before you start creating content on your brand new website it’s a good idea to make a few changes now. You can follow along with these changes in the video at the start of this article, although do bear in mind that was recorded on a slightly older version of WordPress.
- Navigate to ‘Plugins’ in the left hand menu and uninstall (Delete) any plugins that have been installed by default.
- Navigate to the ‘Pages’ area on the left hand side and delete any default pages.
- Navigate to the ‘Posts’ area and delete any default articles.
- Within the same section, click on ‘Categories’ and rename your default category from ‘Uncategorised’ to something more appropriate such as ‘Blog’. Also change the Slug to ‘blog’. Pick something appropriate.
Core settings changes
- Click on ‘Settings’ and update the ‘Tagline’ with something more meaningful. A few words that describe your business.
- In the ‘Email Address’ box add your generic contact e-mail address that you created earlier. In my example that would be email@example.com
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and click ‘Save Changes’
- Click the ‘Discussion’ option. I generally make the following changes:
- Switch off pingbacks and trackbacks
- Switch off the ability for people to comment on new articles
- Save changes
- Click on the ‘Permalinks’ option. I normally change this to ‘Post name’ and save changes.
Remove unused themes
- Click on the ‘Appearance’ option on the left hand side
- I’ll be showing you how to use the Twenty Seventeen theme, still one of my favourite free themes. Make sure that’s your active theme. If it’s not there you may need to install it.
- Any other themes that aren’t used can be deleted by clicking on the theme (don’t activate it) and clicking ‘Delete’ in the bottom right.
Remove unnecessary widgets
- Within the Appearance section click ‘Widgets’
- Delete all of the default widgets that are in the Blog Sidebar
Delete your FTP account
Finally, log on to your web hosting account (i.e. SiteGround master control panel) and delete your FTP account. Abandoned FTP accounts are an easy method of hacking in to websites. I generally delete my FTP account when I’m not using it. You can create a new one at any time. DO NOT delete the files associated with your FTP account – that would delete your entire website and you’d have to start again :-).
Time for a break!
If you’ve never built a website before and you’ve got this far, well done! It’s time for a well earned break. Now comes the fun part of populating your website with content.
You’ll need a logo for your business and for your website. Next time I’ll show you a quick timelapse of how I came up with the logo for this site. If you want to skip straight to building your own website visit this article instead. If you spot any errors in this article please get in touch. If you’ve got any questions you can post them below by becoming a member. Don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube and please join my mailing list.
Last Updated on 23 November 2020 by Andy Mac