Your New WordPress Website Step By Step. Beginner’s Guide

Update 2013: New WordPress website setup guide here.

Just a few years ago only the most advanced Internet users knew what actually a blog is. Nowadays every kid hanging around seems to have a page on livejournal and you meet hundreds of websites hosted on Blogspot or say WordPress every other day in the search engine results or in the spam emails in your inbox. I would like to give you some insight into what actually a blog is and give a quick guide on starting a WordPress website.

Let’s get into work. First of all and when starting on a website, you should understand that WordPress is not just some place where you can post some kind of an updates. This is an amazing content management system that can be used to create any type of website of any complexity. What you usually see online is the 10% usage of the WordPress functionality and capabilities while most possibly you’ll be using only 5% if you just plan to post news from time to time.

The WordPress CMS is theme based which means that you can change designs any time you want while the content and the settings will remain the same in most cases. There are lots of free professional themes available online as well as template solutions by numerous companies. Apart from design changes, you can choose what functionality to have on your WordPress website. Thanks to various widgets and plugins you can create a real monster with the features that would cost tens of hundreds of dollars if ordered on a custom basis for a custom website.

There are lots of reasons why WordPress websites are so popular, I will list just a few why I personally like it so much.

1) For years and till now WordPress remains the cheapest solution to have a website built. It’s widely used by developers and web companies to create satellite websites (like the network of TemplateMonster websites devoted to different template categories) as well as by spammers (though as a rule they use free hosting or host at wordpress org). The system is free and there are lots of professional themes available online.
2) Creating a WordPress website is the quickest way to build an online presence for your company.
3) You will be able to manage your website in a convenient way on your own without paying the developer an hourly fee to carry out the updates.
4) WordPress system is SEO friendly by default (though of course there are enhancements that can be made). Google loves WordPress blogs.
5) You can change designs any time you’re up to. No additional fees and no special set-up.
6) WordPress capabilities are endless. There are thousands of free plugins available and you don’t need any special skills to use most of them.

When starting my first WordPress website I was feeling quite lost and could hardly understand what is all about. I found heaps of information in different places and was trying to put things together for hours. Now having a new WordPress website set-up takes me no longer than 30 minutes. This guide is made for beginners and those thinking of setting up their first WordPress blog. Don’t panic, there’s nothing you can’t do!

1. Registering Hosting and domain name.

You can either have your WordPress website set up on your server and thus show up for your domain name or host for free at WordPress and choose a website like “bestdesigns.wordpress.com”.I recommend setting up a separate domain name and hosting and this looks less spamy and more professional.

Most of the companies offer hosting and domain registration in one place. It may happen that you have a domain name registered in one place and the hosting account in the other. In this case all you have to do is ask your hosting provider to send you the so called name servers (ns) that you should email to your domain register.This will ensure your domain name is associated with your hosting and will show up the website you have uploaded to the server.

Now about hosting requirements. All you’ll need is PHP version 4.3 or greater and MySQL version 4.1.2 or greater running on the server. If you have no clue what is php and database, just send a following email to your hosting provider and see what they say:
“I’m interested in running the open-source WordPress blogging software and I was wondering if my account supported the following:
* PHP 4.3 or greater
* MySQL 4.1.2 or greater
* The mod_rewrite Apache module
Thanks!”

2. Downloading the WordPress.

To have the website running on the WordPress CMS first of all you’ll have to download the WordPress software to your computer. It’s highly recommended to use the latest version of WordPress that can be found here http://wordpress.org/download/ Once saved to your hard drive, unzip the files.

3. Adding your information.

Open the folder with the WordPress files and look for wp-config-sample.php. Rename wp-config-sample.php to wp-config.php and open it in any text editor. This is the place where you have to fill in your database details. Login to your hosting panel and look for MySql section. Create a new database and save the info on file. If you’re not sure how to created the database you may contact your hosting provider for help.

Fill in database details in the wp-config.php file, save it and close it. Now we are ready to move forward.

4. Uploading files to your server.

If you have never uploaded files to a server earlier you may find it a bit tricky, but it’s easy once you understand how it works. Uploading files to the server is almost the same as copying files from one folder on your computer to the other. The only difference is that you are copying the files to the remote computer and thus need the login and password to get access to it.

Login to your hosting panel and look for something like FTP accounts. Create a new user and put down the information: FTP name, user and password. Go to http://www.coreftp.com/ and download the so called FTP client. Follow the installation instructions. Once complete, add a new account and connect to your server with your FTP info.

In most cases, WordPress files have to be uploaded to www or public_html folders depending on your server settings. If you are not sure where to upload, contact your hosting company for help.

Finally, upload the WordPress files to the server.

5. Installing the WordPress.

Once the upload is complete you have to install the WordPress. Open the browser and go to www.mywebsitename.com/wp-admin/install.php That’s it! WordPress should now be installed. After installation you will be given a login and randomly generated password to the admin area. Save them on file.

6. Choosing the design theme.

After the WordPress installation you should be able to see your website at www.mywebsitename.com. The WordPress is installed with the default theme you most likely would wish to change and here’s how to make it.

As I have mentioned in the very beginning of this post, there are hundreds if not thousands of professional free WordPress themes available online. There are also multiple companies where you can buy a WordPress theme but I wouldn’t recommend doing that. First of all why spend money if you can get cool stuff for free? Secondly, there are special support forums for almost all the free themes where you can have all your questions answered by the users as well as theme bugs fixed as apposed to the template option where you just get it as is and get almost zero support. As a rule, free themes have more advanced functionality as they are created by real developers and not by a group of people taught to code certain number of things.

So where you can get the free WordPress themes? While there are lots of websites online, I recommend http://wordpress.org/showcase/. This is a 200% reliable resource with user recommendations and notes. There’s a list of categories available and you can also search by tags like white, clean, orange, minimal etc. Once you find the theme you like download it to your computer and unzip the files. Connect to the server as described above and upload the folder with the theme to ‘wp-content/themes’ directory.

7. Accessing your blog admin area.

To login to the website admin area go here www.mywebsitename.com/wp-admin/ and enter login and password you have received after installation. You’re in.

Once you login you will be prompted to the main page of the WordPress content management system. You might be overwhelmed by the number of buttons, links and other options but pretty soon you’ll get used to it. The main management menu is located on the left and there are lots of settings to play around with. You can hardly spoil anything, so let the researcher inside you do this exciting job for you.

8. Setting your theme and updating general settings.

To activate the theme you have uploaded in point 9 go to Appearance >>Themes in the left panel menu. You should see the list of themes available. Click on the theme you’d like to use and confirm your choice.

To set your website title and some of the main settings go to Settings>>General.

That’s it for today. By now you have your new WordPress website up and running online. You can play around with the admin area to see how to add new posts and create new text pages. In our next post we will tell you about some necessary and useful plugins as well as the settings that will make your blog both user and search-engine friendly.

Anastasia Miles

Project manager and usability specialist. Interested in SEO and marketing, friendly and always ready to discuss new opportunities. Now working in amazing SEO Company named WebPromoExpert.net and you are welcome to follow me and WebPromoExpert on Twitter

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Comments

  1. says

    Just a few years after blogs became mainstream, blogs have officially overrun the internet with hundreds of genres of blog posts, satisfying anyone and everyone’s thirst for knowledge about anything. It is now so easy to start a blog just by following the steps you have detailed, that even grandma can start a blog today. Thanks!

  2. Jimmy says

    Thanks, interesting just how simple it seems, and that SEO’s like Google like blogs. I may switch.

  3. Muneer Ahmad says

    hi everyone hope all of u will be fine plz anyone help me , plz give me steps for customize html website into wordpress website i try but it is not working properely plz tell me how to set page link and where i can see all page or where i store my all html pages

  4. Kea says

    Are WordPress.org free Themes the same as a template? …where I can simply click, upload and choose options without any coding? I don’t have time to learn html codes… I need “simple-stupid”. ( :

    I’m replacing an html site design with a WordPress.org free Theme. This will not be a blog… it needs to have 3-4 pages with no sliders. Will I be able to modify a free Theme in THEME TEST DRIVE under THEME OPTIONS? Or will I have to “Activate” or “Publish” the Theme to access ALL the options to complete the site? It is apparent that the Themes I have uploaded do not reflect all the options (unless I just want a new background and font).

    Is it possible the current “Active” site is interfering with the Theme options? Thank you!

  5. liudic says

    Never got a chance to thank you for this post. This was the original post that i read which eventually led to us creating the social community we have on barcelona-underground.

    We started here, then worked our way through a rabbit hole of tutorials, blogs, videos and forums.. and i would do it all again!! :)

  6. Abbas says

    hay friend thk u .. i search more time to learn… how to install wordpress … this too easy steps … i like too
    thk u friend …. please give like this idea for ever by abbas kovaipudur , india

      • Jennifer says

        Really, I agree… how did this help? There’s absolutely nothing here that you can’t find EVERYWHERE…

  7. Janine says

    Just starting out with wordpress and its not without its perils especially when deciding on a theme! Thats the worst ! Cheers for the tutorial
    Janine x

  8. Jenefers says

    well, good job, so awesome good job man! its help for my new wordpress site. their is also some thing for expert also

  9. says

    Nice tips and this is what I’m looking for because I’m new to wordpress. I’m planning to buy a domain myself to host my blog. And I find this article very helpful. Thanks Anastasia!

  10. Jade Lloyd says

    Not a bad guide, you should also add a few small tips to deal with common problems people encounter during installation such database accounts, possible file permission issues and common plugin problems as well.
    But still a good start for most beginners.

    Cheers

  11. Steve says

    Hi there,
    I uploaded WordPress to my host using Softaculous. Should I have done the config stuff first?
    Cheers,
    Steve

  12. Shay says

    OK, I have my site up and running but can’t figure out how to change the page size on posts from half page to full page. Does anyone know where I find that information. This is only on the posts that I can’t figure this out. Thanks.

  13. Alison says

    Fantastic tutorial. Answered all my questions about getting WordPress and an FTP client up and running. This guide has saved me from lots of headache – I will certainly refer others here. Many many thanks! :)

  14. Cody says

    Not very helpful at all! Not enough detail — some examples would be nice. It may be overwhelming for a true neophyte to deal with registering a domain name, signing up for a webhost, AND downloading and upload files while trying to grasp the essentials of WP!!

    I was looking for a beginners tutorial for setting up a static website, not a blog.

  15. April says

    hey..can somebody help me i am just new in using wordpress..can somebody tell me how to get start with it?thank you

    • Brandi says

      Go to the WordPress “How-To” area and click on the line that says “START HERE” there should be plenty there to get you started. Sometimes it’s not always that clear though, especially if you are as much of a beginner as I was, so use a couple tabs and look at a couple sources at the same time. It helps, one will clarify what another doesn’t and vice versa.

  16. says

    You have provided explanation how to but without mention details. What means Fill in database details in the wp-config.php file, save it and close it. And how to install and use without having your web host? All wordpress tutorials are the same. This is one more, for me wasting time and reading always the same.

  17. Frank says

    Hello. You say First of all why spend money if you can get cool stuff for free?

    As I know very little (AKA Nothing) about code, I have no idea when searching for a theme, whether I am getting a trusted theme or one that is full of “bad stuff”. Could be one reason to buy a theme (from a trusted source).

  18. Nexusintnl says

    I have setup my WordPress blog a few days ago. I have set it up with one-click installation from my host’s control panel. But about Themes, I am still at a loss as I do not get FREE themes from WP that suit all my needs, or, perhaps I just cannot do customization my self. I too feel that WP is 200% better than others. Now that after reading your valuable suggestions, I think I should try more at WP show case!

  19. Mark Heinrichs says

    Awesome guide for WordPress. Alot of people will get great information from this post. Great share.

  20. Brent says

    Very imformative post. You made some great points. I read about 4 other posts trying to understand the concept of wordpress and what it was.

  21. says

    Great step by step tutorial. One thing that you forgot to mention was that some web hosts offer easy installation of WordPress through fantastico.

  22. says

    I’ve been searching for somewhat comprehensive step-by-step wordpress guide for beginner for a week or so. Now I think I’ve found it. Great post. Thanks a lot.

  23. Dennison says

    Thanks for this. It’s a very clear account of setting up and getting going. I’ve already gone through this phase andwould have been very glad of the help you are providing.
    NOW i’m looking forward to your next posting taking things further. For some reason my blog feeds have stopped working and I have absolutely no idea why. So I’m really hoping you’ll explain the fundamentals as well as the details – because so much of the help that’s available assumes people understand the basics – such as autodiscovery tags etc.

    Thanks again.
    Dennison

  24. Ben Teoh says

    Great post. I’ve just recently talked to about half a dozen different people who are wanting to a really simple way to get online, and I’ve been helping them setup WordPress sites. This will be a great resource for me to pass on to them so they’re more confident with getting things started.

  25. says

    Nice tutorial for the very beginner. It’s good to find all this information in one place.

    It would be even better if you had included links to hosting sites and domain sellers you recommend (ie http://www.godaddy.com/ ).

    Thanks for sharing!
    Alex