5 Things You Need Before Installing Wordpress

Wordpress makes building a website relatively easy. But that doesn't mean that you won't need to do some planning and setting up before you plunge into choosing themes and adding plugins.

1.Purchase Hosting

Choosing and setting up a website hosting account is THE first thing you need to do after deciding to build a Wordpress website. Although you used to be able to have a free, hosted Wordpress website on Wordpress.com, this is no longer available. A self-hosted Wordpress site (which gives you much more control and many more options) will require you to purchase hosting.

As a beginner, it can be difficult to know exactly what features you need in a hosting account, but in most cases if you start with a basic account with basic features, you can always upgrade to a more advanced account at a later date if you find you need to. Even basic hosting will usually include everything you need to install and use Wordpress.

When looking for a hosting package for your Wordpress site, features you should look for include:

At least 100GB of storage space – This is often the bare minimum you will find, even on very basic hosting packages.

The ability to create Databases – If you only plan to have one Wordpress website, technically you will only need one database. The ability to create multiple databases is desirable.

Multiple Email Accounts – Again, you might only want or need one email account associated with your website, but the ability to create multiple accounts is useful.

Free Domain Name – If you don’t already have a domain, try to find a hosting package that offers a free domain. Be aware that there may be restrictions, and the domain is usually only free for 12 months.

SSL Certificate – Having an SSL certificate for your website is important, especially if you plan to take any form of payment on your site, as it increases security for users. Be aware that not all SSL certificates offer the same security.

Up-to-date PHP and MySQL – Wordpress recommends the hosting server supports PHP 7.2 or newer, and MySQL 5.6 or newer. You don’t need to know exactly what these things do right now, but you need to make sure your hosting offers them.

Wordpress-Optimised Hosting

There are more and more hosting companies who offer hosting specifically designed for Wordpress sites. These are often slightly more expensive than their equivalent generic hosting accounts, but usually offer additional features such as free access to premium themes and plugins, the use of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) and additional optimisation and performance tools.

A 5 page website for your local plumbing company probably won’t need these additional features, but if you are planning on building a 1000-page eCommerce store, you might want to consider it.

2.Choose a Domain

The domain is the address of your website, the thing that visitors type into the URL field in their browser to get to your site. As mentioned, a free domain is often included with your hosting package, but there can be restrictions applied, such as not being able to choose a .com domain extension.

The domain you choose is not as important as it once was in terms of search engine optimisation, but there are some things you should think about before settling on one. If your company name is available as a domain with the extension (.co.uk, .com. .org, etc.,) you want, then great! If not, you might need to be a bit more creative.

Descriptive domain names are good, but try not to string lots of words together with hyphens. The ideal domain is a single descriptive word such as www.smartphones.com, but good luck finding one of those easily. Instead, think about something like www.smartphonetutorials.com, or even www.smartphone-tutorials.com. Try to make your domain as relevant to the content you will have on your site as possible.

The cost of domains varies depending on the extension. As a rule, a .com domain will be more expensive than a .co.uk domain. You will need to pay for your domain each year to keep it, although most hosts or domain sellers will alert you when the domain is due for renewal.

If you really want a specific domain, your company name for example, but it is already taken, it might be possible to buy it from the current owner. Check to see if the domain is being used by entering it into the URL field of your browser. If not, do a check at www.whois.com to find out who it is registered to and contact them to discuss buying the domain.

3.Create a MySQL Database

Before you can install Wordpress on your web host server, you will need to have a MySQL database set up, and have all of the details to hand. WordPress requires a MySQL database to store all blog information, including posts, comments, metadata, and other information.

Creating a new database is normally as easy as giving it a name and clicking a button in the admin panel of your hosting account. Just look for the Database or MySQL section and follow the instructions.

The database details you will need to set up Wordpress are:

Database Name
Database Username
Database Password
Database Hostname
Port Number

4.Install an FTP Client

Many of the admin areas of website hosts, such as cPanel or Plesk, give you access to your server file storage through a file editor. It is better, however, to use a FTP client to move and manage files on the hosting server. Our favourite is FileZilla, a free client that is relatively easy to set up and use.

You can download FileZilla for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux from https://filezilla-project.org.

FileZilla can look confusing and complicated the first time you use it, but it is actually quite simple. You can read a detailed tutorial to using FileZilla to upload and manage website files elsewhere in this guide.

5.Get a Text-only Editor

Certain parts of the Wordpress installation, and ongoing customisation and management, will require you to edit files in plain text. Using a word processing program such as Microsoft Word can cause problems with this sort of text file by adding extra formatting, so it is advisable to download a text-only editor.

There are many available, for all the main operating systems, and a simple Google search will provide you with numerous options. Some of our recommendations are:

Atom (cross–platform, free)
Gedit (cross-platform, free)
EditPlus (Windows)
Coda (Mac OS X)
Notepad++ (Windows, free)
TextEdit (Mac OS X, pre-installed)
TextPad (Windows)

Russ Ware

Russ has been testing, reviewing and writing guides for tech since the heady days of Windows 95 and the Sega Saturn. A self-confessed (and proud) geek about all things tech, if it has LED's, a screen, beeps or has source code, Russ will want to master it (and very likely take it apart to see how it works...)

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