Dublin: WordPress is one of the most accepted blogging and publishing platforms available, with more than 66 million sites across the world.
But free content management and sleek templates aren't the only features WordPress provides — you can in fact download software from WordPress.org and set up your own custom website within minutes.
The problem is, the idea of building a site from scratch is pretty intimidating, and you may not know exactly where to begin.
Here is a basic guide for setting up your own hosted WordPress site, including how to register for a domain name, sign up with a hosting provider and effectively download and install the WordPress.org software onto your computer.
WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com
You may think about the benefits of WordPress.org over the free dotcom route. The difference between the two services really boils down to flexibility and customization: WordPress.org allows for much more freedom for blogging and uploading content.
Even though WordPress.com is basically a one-stop shop and easier to use, it's more restrictive, and automatically comes with a branded WordPress.com domain (for example, yourblog.wordpress.com).
WordPress.org, on the other hand, isn't an online-only content management system; it's software that you download and install on your hard drive, paired with a site that is hosted elsewhere on the web. It's more advanced, and gives more options.
Another factor to think about is money. Both WordPress services are technically free, but the downloaded software is only functional if you pay for a custom domain name and web hosting.
Registering a Domain Name and Finding a Host
Before anything else, find a reliable service to register your unique domain name and host your WordPress site. There are thousands to choose from, many of which can reserve your domain and provide hosting at the same time. Either way, make certain it meets WordPress' minimum requirements, which can be found here.
WordPress' main site states that most of the accessible hosting options work just fine, and it has "dealt with more hosts than you can imagine." However, the publishing platform highlights three services that you can trust will work mainly well with your website:
Bluehost: Features take in auto-install, readily available updates, unlimited disk storage, unlimited monthly data transfer, hosting unlimited domains on the same account, 2,500 email addresses and more.
DreamHost: Features include one-click install, automatic updates, unlimited hosted domains, a two-week trial, a free domain name and several free add-ons.
Laughing Squid: The support team performs a default installation for you, offers great customer support and economical prices.
There are numerous perks for selecting one of these services. Since they all partner with WordPress, they make certain a smoother setup process, cheaper costs and special features you'll have problem finding elsewhere. Also, a small donation goes back to WordPress.org, which is a great way to support the platform.
We propose going with one of these three services, solely for the ease of installation, but there are a number of other popular options with which you may be more familiar, including Namecheap and GoDaddy.
Downloading and Installing (Without One-Click)
Note: If any of this made you confused or you feel in over head, please resort to using a one-click installer or WordPress.com.
If you decide to download the software without the help of a one-click install option, don't worry too much about a complex start; WordPress boasts about its five-minute installation process.
Before you begin the installation process, ensure you have four additional ingredients for the WordPress recipe. The first is a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client, which is the way you can upload files to your website. You can download a free, legal copy of the recommended FTP client FileZilla here. Another good option is Cyberduck.
You'll also want access to your web server (your web host should have this through its own software, via a tool like Apache), a plain text editor (Notepad on PCs, TextEdit on Macs, etc.) and, certainly, your web browser of choice.
Now, go to the download page and click the button that says, “Download WordPress 3.5.1.” The software comes in a compressed ZIP file — unzip the file onto your hard drive.
You'll require creating a database for WordPress on your web server and a MySQL user that can access all of the stored posts, comments, metadata and other information. Your hosting provider possibly does this for you already, or has its own specific instructions to set it up. Otherwise, you'll have to create one manually using either cPanel (your hosting control panel), phpMyAdmin, the MySQL Client or Direct Admin — click here to find specific instructions for each.
You'll want to enter this information into the file named "wp-config-sample.php," and after that's complete, rename it wp-config.php (this is very important). After that, you need to integrate WordPress and your domain by moving all of the contents of the unzipped WordPress directory (but not the WordPress directory file itself) into the root directory of your web server. Note that this may take some time.
Navigate to your URL by typing http://wp-admin/install.php. Fill in your information, log in with the temporary username and password WordPress offers, and now you have a new website at your fingertips.
These last few steps are a bit complex; with this basic outline in mind, check out WordPress' extensive, detailed installation instructions here, and if you're running into issues, consider common installation problems and their solutions here.
Themes: Building your site's backend from scratch doesn't mean you have to forgo the variety of themes WordPress offers. Check out WordPress.org's directory of 1,764 themes and add some personality to your site.
Plugins: WordPress.org has a directory of 25,229 plugins to add to your site, including Akismet to filter spam and WP Optimize for thorough security.
Forums: With WordPress, there's always something new to learn. Peruse the forums to find resources, articles and discussions.
Read more: WordPress Web Development