You installed WordPress! Now what?


You managed to install WordPress on your fresh domain. I can remember that my first successful installation was very satisfying and I couldn’t wait to turn it into a real and personal website. I can remember installing tons of plugins (features/options) and different themes (designs). I googled and I searched and tried all kind of cool stuff just to see if I could do it.

Before you start doing this, I recommend you to sit back and relax for a moment. I want you to realize that the hardest thing of owning a website is creating content, and not to create a website.

You might think that your website is empty, boring and ugly at this point  but you should rather look at it as clean, fresh and untouched.

Altering the structure, the design or all the options is not the biggest challenge here. For the moment, stay away from tag-clouds, twitter-feeds, social plugins and god knows what, that might look cool to you at the moment. It only will be a waste of time. You have to approach it with a plan, or rather: In the right order.

One thing I recommend you to do before anything else is to go to your WordPress Dashboard, click on ‘settings’ and ‘perma links’. ‘Perma’ is short for ‘permanent’ and it defines the URL (is web-address) of your blog-posts and pages. By default, the location (the web-address / URL) of your blogs or pages is someting like this: www.yourdomain.com?p=12
In terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), URL’s like that won’t help you very much because they hold no information at all.

Forget all the technical stuff mentioned above, all you need to know is that you should change this setting so that Google will show your website more often in the search results.

Change the settings under common settings to ‘post name’.

Instead of www.mydomain.com?p=12 the URL’s will look like www.mydomain.com/title-of-my-post.

Much better for search engines!

 

 

Get started with WordPress on your new domain


WordPress is a free to use software to create your own website. It has been here since the beginning, and found a way to maintain populair amongst large user groups.

Anyone can setup WordPress in just a couple of clicks. You don’t even need to own a domain name for yourself, but simply use a free subdomain (mysuperblog.wordpress.com) to start your own blog in 3 minutes. And of course, many people did.

As a result, there are many, many poor, empty and deserted WordPress blogs published on the web. It doesn’t do the WordPress image any good. You might think that it could be a bit unprofessional to use WordPress this for your own (company)blog, since all those amateurs choose for WordPress. You might think (or one might tell you) to rather build your own website/blog from scratch, but please don’t. Think of it like this; just because many people write poor stories and business-plans in Microsoft Word, that doesn’t mean that MS Word is an unprofessional text-editor. You are not going to built a new text-editor because there is so much crap produced with it right? WordPress is used by the most famous and professional blogs/websites of the web, such as Mashable and The Wall Street Journal.

WordPress has become more than just an easy-to-setup-blog. WordPress has become a framework that you can make as complex as you choose to. Hundreds of thousands software developers made so called extensions or plugins that can be used on WordPress.

I have made quite some websites with WordPress in the last couple of years. Varying from quick and dirty fun-stuff to complex, multilingual dynamic platforms.

You won’t need any developing knowledge to get started with WordPress. Just follow some simple steps and you have your site up-and-running in somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes.

After that, take depending on how much you like it, you can customise the website to any level. Choose to learn some real web-programming or simply install available plugins to enhance your website with extra features. Change the design of your site by creating your own theme, or simply use one of the thousands pre-designed themes available on the web.

WordPress was originally designed for people to create their blog, but it evolved to much more than that. It offers basically an all-round CMS-tool to create whatever kind of website that can be maintained via a web-based interface where you can change the content and design of your website. And you don’t even need any real computer skills.

I am doing this for many years, but I also noticed that it is sometimes hard to find some good guidelines that help you get through the installation process for people who simply don’t know anything about it. Why do I do this? Because it’s fun and I wish I had a guide like this 10 years ago 🙂

This guide will go through the process step by step, starting with the installation of WordPress.

Everything you see on this website is described in my guidelines. It starts with the simple installation (this guideline) and along the way it will become quite complex. Whenever I want to change something on my website, I will document this and share my experiences.

First steps

I assume you have a domain name and a hosting package. If not, I recommend Site5 (and please don’t take GoDaddy) and order your stuff. Shortly you will receive all information you need to get you started.

First, you need to get ‘a’ site online because your domain is empty. I will use WordPress for my complete website (static information pages, blog, feedback forms etc. etc.) simply because it is easy, flexible and fun.

4 little steps to have your wordpress up and running

  1. Download the WordPress files to your computer
  2. Upload the wordpress files to your website (= web-server)
  3. Create a database that WordPress can access
  4. Follow the WordPress installation wizard on your website

Download the WordPress files to your computer

First thing you need to do is download the latest WordPress version to your computer. WordPress is completely free.

Download the latest version here: xxxx

WordPress consists of a bunch of files and directories. When you download them, they are delivered in a compress file (.zip). Make sure that you unpack them after downloading.

(Tip: Copy them from your download folder to a place where you want to store your website. In my case it is “Tom > Websites > madnessofone.com > current” Of course you can choose whatever location to keep your files. You can even leave it in the default download folder, it doesn’t matter but I wouldn’t recommend that. I have learned to consistently make backups of your files. I use the folder ‘current’ to store the files that are currently ‘live’ and I make backups every time before I change something to the ‘current’ files and put them in a folder named after the moment of copying for example ‘2012-09-01 5:50’. When working with websites, sometimes everything can get messed up and all you want to do then, is go back to how it was 3 hours ago.)

Upload the wordpress files

Now put the WordPress files on the server of your domain.

If you are unfamiliar with FTP uploading, then read this short article first. It explains how to establish a connection with the server that hosts your website in order to add or change the files of your website.

Uploading your wordpress might take 10 minutes or more, depending on our internet speed. To start uploading, open up Cyberduck (for Mac users) and drag all WordPress files in the ‘public_html’ directory of your domain.  Alternatively, you can choose to place your wordpress blog in a directory. (“public_html/any_folder” > resulting in “www.yourdomain.com/any_folder”)

Create your database

The next step is to create a SQL database. This sounds more complicated than it is. Just follow the instructions, and accept that you have to do this.

Open your internet browser (for example Google Chrome) and surf to your domain-dashboard. Here you control the fundamental settings over your domain/website. Those things are independent of your actual website (the files) itself (such as email, subdomains, databases and other techy-stuff).

In this example I use Site5 which I like and recommend and in my case, the location of this domain-dashboard is http://madnessofone.com:2082. If you do not host at Site5, these numbers (“:2082”) might be different but regardless, most decent hosting companies offer direct access to a domain-dashboard (also called ‘control panel’).

(Note. Please don’t go for GoDaddy.com. Although they are one of the largest hosting companies in the world, they will make your life complicated. Also, they are not cheap because you will have to pay for everything separately. For example, at most hosting companies you simply have access to all e-mail options and database stuff. With go-daddy you have to buy an extra ‘email package’ to be able to create email-accounts on your own domain and as far as I know, databases are not included as well. Also, I experienced a lot of trouble when installing software on their servers (such as Magento)).

Anyway, you need to add a database in order for WordPress to work. A databse is nothing more than a bunch of Excel Spread-sheets kind of files that store information. One database has many of those sheets called tables. Don’t worry, all you need to do is to create an empty database and give wordpress access to it.

Look on your domain-dashboard for the group ‘databases’ > ‘manage database and users’ and click on it. If you use Site5 you will find a form, which allows you to create a new database (it has the ‘pre fix of your username’).  Give your database a name (I always choose ‘wp’ for wordpress intstalls, which in my case become ‘madnesso_wp’) and click on “Create databae and add user”

Choose a username and password and make sure that your remember them. In my case it was:

Database name: madnesso_wp
Username: madnesso_user
Password: (do not give this to anyone)

Now you are all set to go.

Follow the WordPress installation Wizard

If your files are uploaded, go to your  domain name. I uploaded the files into the main directory (public_html) and therefor I simply can surf to the domain-name is registere (www.madnessforone.com) and if all went well, you should see something like this:

A screen telling me there is no config-file. No worries, we haven’t given wordpress the info it needs. Config is short for Configuration, and that is  tech-language for files that hold central and crucial information such as the username and password to your database (the one we just created). Your website needs this information in order to continue (note, this is pure privately. This is not a connection as you are used to with for example Facebook or Twitter. Nobody but you, will hold this information. This is not shared with the ‘organtisation’ Wordrpess).

Click on continue and after that on ‘lets go’. Give the database name, user and password. Leave the host and the pre-fix as it is and click on the button.

If all goes well, you can run the intstallation. Click on the button to go to the next form. Fill out some more simple stuff untill the point you can login in. Login, and you will end up on your WordPress Admin Dashboard. Here you can manage everything of your site. This is your CMS (Content Management System).  From this point on, you actually have a website live, and this is what it looks like:

Check it out yourself and (open a new tap/window of your browser) and go to your website.

I have been writing this article in Word because my site wasn’t live yet. Now it is. I copied this article to a new (and my first post) and published it.

If you are completely new with WordPress it will cost you some time to get used to all the options. Take your time, I promise, it’s not that hard. Also, feel comfortable with the fact that your website/blog is ugly and boring at this point. That is all part of the game. If this was your first install and you got away with it in less than 3 hours, you did pretty well.

Just click around a little on your WordPress Dashboard and wait a while before installing plugins. Plugins are fun but they can waste a lot of time to and mess can potentially mess up your website.