What do you absolutely need for a successful WordPress installation?
The zip package on wordpress.org
A zip package is available for you to download from wordpress.org. Download it to your computer and unzip it in a separate directory on your hard drive, which you can name for example “wp-download”. By the way, you can find the German WordPress version here.
A computer and an internet connection
Of course you need a computer and an internet connection. It is also possible to install WordPress locally. This is ideal if you are working on further crafting on the side on the train or at a lonely mountain cabin. However, a move is required if the site is to go online.
In addition, it has advantages to work with the same server configuration from the beginning, then there are no surprises later. If you’re setting up WordPress for the very first time, you’ll want to avoid all that unnecessary stress.
As a web designer, I like to use the premium version of MAMP for Mac or XAMPP for Windows for local installation. Very interesting and even easier to use is the new local version of Flywheel.
A web space with a domain
Then you need another one web space, the “parking lot” for your website on the World Wide Web. This should meet certain requirements. For the current WordPress 4.9.8 version, these are: HTTPS support for establishing encrypted connections, PHP version 7.2 or higher, mySQL database version 5.6 or MariaDB version 10.0 or higher, and Apache or Nginx with mod_rewrite.
Ideally, you should also get a suitable domain from the same hoster. This is primarily a marketing question that you would have to clarify in advance. You should have largely cleared up any trademark issues in this regard. With the Top Level Domain (TLD), the part after the point, you can give your website visitors a first indication of where you are at home.
In the home country of the hoster is a country TLD like .de for Germany, usually the cheapest. Generic, i.e. transnational TLDs such as .com, .org or .net, as well as those from abroad usually cost a little more. When choosing a web host, you should not just go by the price. Good support is important, especially for beginners.
Great if 1-click build is available. Search the Internet for hoster ratings or ask friends and acquaintances about their experiences. An email package is included with most hosting plans.
For manual installation:
a php editor and a file upload program
Two programs are required for manual installation: a php editor such as Notepad++ and software for file uploads such as the open source program Filezilla. You can easily find these programs on the Internet, install them on your computer according to the instructions for use.
Some hosters also offer to upload files directly to their backend via a browser without installing their own program. Set up FTP access with your web host that allows you to upload files to the web space.
In the hoster’s domain administration, make sure that the root directory of the domain is where you copy your files to. You should also be able to create a database in the backend of the hoster. WordPress needs this to save the content of the website.
You should use secure passwords for FTP access and the database. A secure password looks like this: Minimum length of eight characters, it should contain lower and upper case letters, numbers and special characters. Hackers don’t have it that easy. In some cases, you will immediately receive passwords that offer sufficient security.
You can keep this or change it – just as you like it. Write down all access data in a safe place. It is recommended to use special password storage such as LastPass or 1Password. However, the possibility of storing the access data directly in Safari, Firefox or Chrome should be used less. For security reasons, you should also make sure that all software installed on your computer is up to date and that good virus protection is available.
What is better? Manually or with 1-Click?
How does the manual installation work on WordPress?
Upload the unpacked WordPress files to your web space. To do this, start the application you have selected and enter the FTP access data you previously set. You will then see a screen split in half. On the left side you can see the directories of your computer. Navigate to where your WordPress files are located, in the example above the corresponding directory was called “wp-download”. Use CTRL+A to mark all subdirectories and files contained therein and drag everything over to the webspace to the right.
Depending on the quality of your data connection, this may take some time. Then you make a few adjustments in the wp-config.php file: You enter the server name, database name, user name and password there. The server name is usually called “localhost”, otherwise you should find the right information in the “frequently asked questions” on the website of your hoster. You can find the database and user names in the backend of your web host. You have noted down the password for the database in a safe place.
Here is a good video for guidance. I might make my own video about it soon. So I welcome feedback on this video:
For security reasons, it is still recommended to change the table prefix of the database before uploading wp-config.php and to copy individual salt keys from the website https://api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/salt/ to the appropriate location to copy. After uploading, go to the /install.php subpage of your website in your browser. You come to an input mask in which you should again enter the data that you have already stored in wp-config.php. Click on the send button to continue. You will then be asked for the name of the website, your e-mail address and a password that you have chosen – which is of course not too trivial.
You should not necessarily use “admin” as the user name, because that is the standard name in WordPress and many hackers try it out first. If you do not want search engines to find your website right now, you can tick this box. By clicking on “Install WordPress”, you end the installation process and get to the login page.
What advantages does the 1-click installation from the web host offer you?
Dealing with the various programs and managing the access data is not easy for newcomers. It’s easier and faster with the 1-click installation via the web host. You save Filezilla or WinSCP, Notepad++ and the download and upload of all WordPress files.
Handling the access data is limited to logging in to the hoster. The rest is completely preconfigured. All you have to do is select WordPress for the 1-click installations and you will then be guided through the rest of the installation process. With a little practice you can do it in five minutes.
What else should you do to finish the website?
You can now enter your access data on the login page and if you are using a non-public computer, you can tick the “Keep me logged in” box. You can find more about this in the guide to WordPress admin login.
You are already in the backend where you can manage your website. With a click on the home symbol at the top left you land on the frontend. This is the view that those who are not logged in will see.
But the website is not ready yet. One of the last standard WordPress themes is pre-installed. But you can also easily switch to a different theme if you like it better. Here is my list of the best WordPress themes.
But read the license terms first. Then it is important to fill the website with life. First, familiarize yourself with the difference between static pages and continuous posts. Then create a navigation that makes it easier for your site visitors to find their way around.
You can then create posts and pages and add images, text and videos. If you need additional functions, you will find the option to install and activate them in the backend under “Plugins”. Don’t forget to let search engines read the webpage once you’ve created good content and excluded the search engines first.
What comes next? Don’t forget backups and updates!
You should update your WordPress installation regularly so that hackers don’t stand a chance in the long run. In the backend you can see under “Updates” whether something needs to be done. The list of items to be updated is divided into WordPress core, themes, plugins and language files.
Updating is done with a click, it is important that you create a data backup in advance. There are even practical tools for this, the so-called backup plugins. Even if you’ve made any changes, you should back up the status quo.
With this, you or someone who really knows WordPress can always restore the old version in case something goes wrong. In the course of time you should definitely learn how to import a data backup yourself, but you should then be a little more familiar with the programs mentioned above.