WordPress is an incredibly popular blogging and content management system (CMS). Nearly 40% of sites on the internet run on WordPress. After all, it’s free and open-source, and has a massive list of themes and plugins for customization. Though it started as a blogging service that you install on your own hosting platform, WordPress now has one of the best website builders available.
In this article, we show you how to build a website with WordPress on your own hosting.
How to build a website with WordPress: Your options
There are several ways to get started with WordPress. First, understand that WordPress is free, open-source software that you can download from WordPress.org and install on your own web hosting. This is what we’ll do in this guide.
But many web hosting companies have a one-click installer for WordPress, so all you need to do is click a button and WordPress will be installed on your web hosting.
Another option is third-party WordPress hosting. When you buy WordPress hosting, you get an optimized WordPress site, ready to go. If your WordPress hosting is managed, many of the day-to-day duties - such as software upgrades and backups - are taken care of for you by the web host.
Enterprise WordPress meanwhile is WordPress on a grander scale - find out more in our feature, asking is WordPress the way forward for enterprise content management?
Finally, you can use the website builder on WordPress.com. Installation of WordPress here is immediate, and you can get started creating your site in no time. You can host your WordPress website here for free, and as your needs grow, you can upgrade to one of four paid plans.
In this guide, we’ll install WordPress on our own hosting. It’s the most complex installation procedure, but offers you the highest level of customization over your WordPress site.
Step 1: Choose a website hosting provider
Your WordPress website needs to be hosted somewhere. There are thousands of web hosts vying for your business, so we’ve created a guide to the best web hosting services to help you choose.
Almost all web hosts will support WordPress, but you do need a host that supports scripting languages and protocols including PHP 7.4 (or greater), HTTPS, and either MySQL or MariaDB database management systems. You’ll probably want to upload files to the server, so FTP (file transfer protocol) support is also useful.
Step 2: Download WordPress from WordPress.org
To install WordPress on your web hosting manually, you’ll first need to download it to your own computer. Head to WordPress.org and click on "Get WordPress". You’ll be presented with the latest version of WordPress to download in a zip file. Download this file and extract it on your computer.
Step 3: Upload the WordPress files to your web hosting
Next, you need to get your WordPress files onto your web hosting. Your web host may have a web-based file manager that you can use for this purpose.
A quick way to upload all the files is to use an FTP client like FileZilla. Enter your web hosting provider’s FTP details (host, username, and password) into your client, and upload all the WordPress files to your web hosting space.
Step 4: Create a database for WordPress
WordPress requires a MySQL or MariaDB database. Log into your web hosting provider’s administration panel, and find the section for databases. Every hosting provider’s interface is different, but you will typically need to set a database name, username, and password. Note these details for the next step.
Step 5: Enter your database details into the WordPress wizard
Now that the files are uploaded to your web host and an empty database has been created, it’s time to visit your website’s URL. If this is the first time you’ve run WordPress, you will be taken through the setup wizard. First, you’re asked for the language of the site, and then you’re asked for the database details. Enter the details for the database that you created earlier, and click "Submit".
Step 6: Continue through the WordPress installer
After WordPress confirms your database is accessible, you’re asked for a few more details about your site. Enter a site title, administrator username, password, and email. Hit "Install WordPress" to install the program. It should only take a few minutes.
Step 7: Basic site setup
Now the WordPress installation is complete. Start setting up your site by heading to the "General" menu in the settings. You can set your website’s title, subtitle, time zone, and date format. Click "Save" when you are finished.
Step 8: Choose a theme
In the "Appearance" menu on the left, you’ll find "Themes". Here, you can choose from a range of templates that shape how your website looks. Click on "Add New Theme" to search hundreds of pre-made themes. When you’re happy with your selection, choose "Customize".
Step 9: Edit the site blog posts
By default, your WordPress website will have several posts. Posts are blog content displayed in reverse chronological order. To get used to the interface, click on "Posts" and edit one of the examples.
You’re not just restricted to text. By clicking on the plus sign, you can add rich media elements like galleries, videos, music, and social media widgets.
Step 10: Add pages
Step 11: Browse and add site plugins
To unlock the full potential of your WordPress website, choose "Add New" in the "Plugins" menu. Here, you’ll find thousands of plugins that add features to your site. Some plugins can drastically change how your website works, such as by adding forums, contact forms, online stores, or additional administration features.
WordPress is a powerful content management system with a versatile website builder. There’s so much you can do with your site to perfect it now that you know your way around the user interface. We’ve introduced the different ways that you can use WordPress and shown you its most important features. Now it’s up to you to make the best WordPress website that you possibly can.