Best How To WordPress Guide 2019 – Install and Set-Up

Hello! I hope you are doing well today. Thanks for stopping by to check out my How To WordPress guide.

This How To WordPress guide will show how to install and setup WordPress, a Theme, and some Plugins. The result will be a fast, optimized, starter site you can use for any project. By the end of this guide, you will be able to install and setup WordPress yourself.

Let’s do this!

Disclaimer: This page contains affiliate links to products or services. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Web Hosting    

Before you start my How To WordPress guide, you need to know a few things about web hosting companies. There are hundreds of them, and every single one of them claims they are harder, better, faster, stronger.

I’m going to give you the skinny on what to look for in a web hosting company. This way you don’t get stuck with some crappy web host with horrible service.

Feel free to skip ahead if you already have a web hosting company you’re happy with. Go ahead and let us know who they are in the comments below.

Things you don’t want:

  • Don’t sign up with anyone using a dedicated site builder. This includes Wix, Weebly, and Squarespace. Not only are you limited by their builder, but you also can’t install WordPress. I know it’s pretty obvious but I’m just putting it out there.
  • Don’t sign up with EIG. They own lots of hosting companies, including HostGator and Bluehost. Many websites hosted by EIG have reported high response times. Overcrowding a server can cause this.
  • Anyone offering a free website or hosting. Most of the time free means you will use their domain name in the URL.
  • Some web hosts have different pricing on regular hosting and WordPress hosting. This applies to shared hosting. Managed WordPress and VPS hosting will have different pricing.

Things you do want:

  • Free SSL and free email. Almost all web hosting companies offer a free SSL certificate and free email hosting. Some offer a free domain when you sign up for their hosting plans.
  • The correct software, these are the minimums WordPress recommends:
    • PHP version 7.3 or greater
    • MySQL version 5.6 or greater OR MariaDB version 10.1 or greater
    • HTTPS support
  • SSD a.k.a. Solid State Drive. This is nice to have, but not a deal-breaker. Most web hosting companies have upgraded to these.
  • Some web hosts can preinstall WordPress. Remember to make sure that there are no hidden extras that you are unaware of.

Here are my 2 cents if you’re interested. Begin with shared hosting if this is your first go-around. It’s very affordable and can handle a decent amount of traffic. A2 Hosting is a good place to look into and Hosting Facts says they are the fastest shared hosting provider they’ve tested.

They have sales all the time, offer free SSL and use SSD. When you call, you talk to a person. They also have a huge knowledge base where you can find answers about how to use their cPanel, find setup guides, and much more.

Let Us Worry About Your WordPress Website

Sign up for one of our affordable WordPress Maintenance plans. We will keep your website up-to-date, secure and optimized.

Server Information

Before you begin, you will need to know the name of the software that’s running on your web server. You can get this information from your cPanel dashboard. After you log in look to the right and click on Server Information.

Find Web Server Software

The next screen will show you which software your web server is using. You’ll need to remember if it’s Apache or Nginx.

Web Server Software

Now that you’ve chosen your web hosting company, it’s time to install WordPress.

How To WordPress Local  

Local by Flywheel is a local staging environment for WordPress that’s easy to install and use. It’s free, works on both Mac and Windows, and allows you to experiment on your WordPress site before going live. I find it invaluable to install and setup WordPress websites. Click on the link above to download your copy.

Local Dashboard

Install Local by Flywheel on your computer, if you have any issues you can find the answer on their support forums. Once you have Local by Flywheel installed, run the program. After some U.A.C. permissions, you should see a screen like the one above. Click on the plus sign to add a new website.

Enter your website’s name. Under the local site domain, enter your domain name as it looks in a URL. For example, my website is WP Project Services. The domain name is wpprojectservices, not wp-project-services. Don’t add the dot com (.com), leave the TLD as dot local(.local). Click Continue.

The next screen is where you set up your website’s environment. Click on Custom, then select the latest PHP version from the drop-down menu. The next selection is the information I asked you to get from your web hosting provider. Choose which software is running on your web server Apache or Nginx. Finally, choose the latest version of MySQL from the drop-down menu. Click Continue. 

Local Site Settings

Enter your admin name and password, make sure you use a strong password. Enter the email that you want to use for updates and alerts. Before clicking on Continue, store this information someplace safe and easy to get to. You will need it later in this guide. Click Add Site and let Local by Flywheel finish the installation.

After Local is done setting up your website you may see a notice about SSL. Click the Trust button to add SSL to your website. Clicking on the Admin button will open your web browser and take you to the login page of your WordPress website.

Check out A2 Hosting for your WordPress website. They offer many features that others charge extra for. Unlimited Websites, Emails, and Databases. 1 Click WordPress Install, Free Site Migration, Free SSL Certificate. Plus so much more!

How To WordPress Settings  

Welcome to your WordPress website. Yes, it’s a local install but this is the best place to make changes, try different themes, check out plugins, etc. After logging in you should be at your WordPress dashboard. Click on Screen Options at the top right next to Help. Uncheck all the tick boxes in the dropdown. Nice and clean.

How To WordPress Dashboard

The left navigation bar is how you will edit the features of your website. First some basic housekeeping. Click on Comments and trash the comment listed. Do the same for Posts and Pages, but don’t trash the Privacy Policy Page.

Next, hover over Posts in the left navigation menu, then click Categories. Enter a name for your category and a short description if you want. Not sure what to enter? Use the main theme of your website. For example, my categories are SEO and WordPress. Click Add New Category after each entry.

Click on Settings in the left navigation bar and select Writing. Change the Default Post Category to the one you just entered. Now, whenever you make a post it will have that category instead of Uncategorized. You can setup Post via Email if you want to create posts on the go, personally I’d just use the WordPress App. Use Google to look up Update Services a.k.a. WordPress ping lists, be careful, some of these are very outdated. Click Save Changes when you’re done.

Go back to settings and click on General. Make sure your Site Title and Tagline are correct, if not change them. Check the WordPress Address and Site Address. They both should be your domain name followed by dot local(.local). Verify your email address, set Site Language, Timezone, Date and Time Formats, and Week Starts On Day. When your done click Save Changes.

WordPress Settings General

Underneath Settings click on Media. Here you set the sizes for the images you use on your website. I set my Thumbnails to 0, Medium to 0 and Large to 0. You can set your sizes, but keep in mind that when you upload an image it will get resized into the three sizes you set. Click the tick box to have WordPress Organize your images. When you’re finished, click on Save Changes.

Back to Settings and click on Permalinks. You’ll want to use Custom Structure, whether you choose /%category%/%postname%/ or /%postname%/. For example, if you look at your browser’s address bar you’ll notice the URL is https://wpprojectservices.com/how-to-wordpress. Had I chosen to use a category in my permalinks it might have been https://wpprojectservices.com/wordpress/how-to-wordpress. The type of website you are creating can help determine the structure of your URLs. Don’t forget to click on Save Changes.

Next click on Reading. I change Posts and Feeds to 5. You can adjust these later depending on your type of website and if you use RSS feeds. Click the radio button to choose how to display your blog posts. Save your changes.

Click on Discussion and uncheck:

  • Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article
  • Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks) on new articles. 

Change Enable threaded (nested) comments to a maximum of 3. Most of the other selections depend on your website, how much moderation you want to do, and how much free speech you will allow. Checking “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” is a great way to prevent spammers. You can find out more information about these settings on the support page. Click Save Changes when you’re finished.

Now head back to your desktop and Local by Flywheel. Under Local Sites, you should see the name of your website with a green dot next to it. Right-click on your website name and scroll down to Save as Blueprint. Now you have a basic WordPress template you can use whenever you want!

How To WordPress Themes  

Finally some fun stuff! I know the previous section was a bit boring, but it had to be done. Plus if you saved the site as a Blueprint in Local by Flywheel you’ll never have to do it again. Bonus! Moving right along.

Hover on Appearance, then click on Themes. You should see 4 preinstalled Themes; Twenty Twenty, Twenty Nineteen, Twenty Seventeen, and Twenty Sixteen. Don’t ask me what happened to Twenty Eighteen, I don’t know.

WordPress Manage Themes

These are the themes created by the WordPress team for use on your website. As far as I know, they are suitable, but I have never used them. I use GeneratePress, it’s lightweight, fast, and is updated regularly. Click on Add New.

Enter GeneratePress in the search bar on the right. Once you find it, go ahead and install and activate it. You can also use the Upload Theme button if you downloaded it from the link above. Have you already decided on a theme? Go ahead and install it now. Once the theme is installed click Activate.

Hover over the other themes and click Theme Details. Then click Delete in the bottom right corner. Do this for all the unused themes.

You should have GeneratePress or another light, fast theme installed and activated. Under Appearance, click on Widgets, then click on Right Sidebar. See all those widgets hiding in there? Delete them, delete them all. Do the same with Left Sidebar.

WordPress Widgets

Time to make some pages. On the left hover over Pages and click Add New. I’m just going to do a simple 4-page website, so the first page will be your Home page. Give it a nice title and some content and click Publish. What? You don’t have any content? No worries you can use this dummy content.

Next will be your Posts page. Name it whatever you like, you can name it Blog, and click Publish. The next 2 pages will be the contact page and the about page. Name them how you’d like, add some content and click Publish. 

Hover over Appearance and click on Customize, this is where you get to style your website. GeneratePress has many, many options, even without Premium. The first thing I want you to do is to go down to Homepage Settings, tick A static page, and select your home page and posts page from the corresponding drop-down. Now customize your site however you like. Take your time looking at all the options, have fun with it. After your done click Publish. Here’s a link to the GeneratePress documentation on customization. 

Customize Generatepress

I do recommend that you use a premium theme. Most free themes have limitations on what you can customize. GeneratePress Premium is a plugin that gives you access to lots of the theme’s features. Demo Sites, Import/Export your settings, and many more customization options. I think the best part is the Elements, check out the video in the link. Support is great, it gets regularly updated and you can always find help in the documentation or the forums.  

Hover over Appearance and click on Menus. First, you need to name your menu and Save it. Some of the pages might be in your menu, delete them so you don’t have any broken links. Now tick the Primary Menu checkbox, then click View All under Pages. You will see your Homepage and the other pages you created, tick their boxes and click Add to Menu. You can change the Navigation Label if you’d like, change your Homepage to Home and your Posts page to Blog, etc. Once you’re happy click Save. 

How To WordPress Plugins  

I’m going to start with the must-have plugins. Some of them I’m going to ask you not to activate. Crazy I know, but it will save you some headaches and extra work. Hover on Plugins and click Add New.

Here are the plugins you should get and install. You can download from the links below or from your admin dashboard in WordPress.

Once you have installed the plugins, activate All-in-One WP Migration, Formidable Forms, Kadence Blocks and Ultimate Addons for Gutenberg. Go ahead and customize your pages. Don’t forget to update your changes. Use Formidable Forms to create your contact form, the default should be fine.

Hover over Users and click Your Profile. Select your color scheme and fill in the Name section. Fill in your contact info and upload a Profile Picture if you want. Now go back to your desktop and Local, right-click on your website and Save as Blueprint. 

Back at the admin page on your WordPress site, hover over All-in-One WP Migration and click Export then File. Download the file when it’s ready. Save it somewhere you can get to quickly, you will need it shortly. Hover over your user name in the top right of the admin page and click Log Out.

How To WordPress Live  

Head over to your cPanel either through your web host or your cPanel’s login page.

Once you log in to cPanel, you should see something like this. You can click on the WordPress icon or Blogs.

How To WordPress Install

This is the Softaculous dashboard. Clicking “Install” will bring you to the next page.

Softaculous Dashboard

Make sure you have selected “https://” and that the domain name is correct. Leave the Directory Field blank to install in your root directory. Name your website the same as your Local site and add your catchphrase or slogan. Skip the checkbox, I will write about multi-sites in a future guide. Enter the user name and password from your Local site. Type in the email address you want to use for website admin. Updates and notices about your website will be sent there.

Install WordPress

The next step is to select the website’s language. Depending on your web host, you may have options to install themes or plugins. I suggest skipping this section. Enter the email you used before and click the Install button. When it’s finished installing, you should have a link to the admin page of your WordPress site. Enter the admin page and click on Plugins then Add New, install and activate All-in-One WP Migration. Hover over Import and click on File. Select the file you exported from your local site. After the import is finished click on the Permalinks option. Login to your WordPress site, go to Settings then Permalinks and save your Custom Structure twice.

Congratulations! You just installed WordPress! 

You should be proud of yourself! You just created a WordPress starter site template and you installed and set up a live WordPress website.

Your next step is to activate the rest of the plugins. Make your website secure, make it fast, and optimize for SEO. Part II of How To WordPress will cover that and much more.

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