For many people, the most intimidating thing about using WordPress is installing the darn thing in the first place. Fortunately, doing so is easier than ever, thanks to new hosting tools that make it a matter of simply clicking a few buttons.
In this post we’ll look at how to install the self-hosted version of WordPress by using a hosting provider that has cPanel and Fantastico. If this sounds like Greek to you, don’t worry. I’ll define those terms in a bit.
Note: I’m aiming this WordPress tutorial at people who are complete novices at web hosting and WordPress. Those of you who have a little knowledge may find it covers stuff you already know. If that’s the case, then feel free to skip over the subtitled sections that you don’t need to read.
WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org: What’s the Difference?
WordPress started out as a simple, intuitive way for anyone to launch their own blog. Over time it has become so popular that many individuals and companies, including large corporations, use it to manage their primary web sites.
To serve both kinds of users, there are two separate sites: WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.org is the one you want if you will be using your own domain name, such as www.whatever.com. If all you want to do is have a personal blog or maybe a family pictures site, then WordPress.com is all you will need. This site is a great place to learn how to use WordPress for those purposes. I’ll also be covering the subject in a future post. For the rest of this article, however, I will be focusing exclusively on how to use the self-hosted version of WordPress.
What You’ll Need to Install WordPress
- A domain name
- A web hosting (or self-hosted) account with cPanel and Fantastico
- 45 minutes to 1 hour (this is probably far longer than you’ll actually need, but I suggest setting aside this much time anyway, just in case you run into any snags).
Buying a Domain Name
It’s important to give some serious thought to what name you will choose for your site, in order to optimize your Google ranking. Certain keywords will put you much higher on the search engine’s results pages (SERPs) than others. This site will show you how often various keywords are searched for on a monthly basis.
You want to choose one that is popular among Google users and incorporate it into your domain name. For example, if you own a shoe store and want to sell products online, you may find that “super terrific shoes” is searched for 10,000 times a month, so you decide to use www.superterrificshoes.com as your domain.
Once you’ve made your choice, the next step is to purchase the domain from a company such as www.godaddy.com. Of course the domain you chose may already be taken, in which case you’ll need to look again. But let’s assume that www.superterrificshoes.com is available and you buy it. The next step is to get a hosting account.
What’s a Hosting Account?
Basically, it’s an agreement between you and a company that will keep, or host, your web site on one of its servers. If you’ve ever heard the term “self-hosted” then this is what it’s referring to. It doesn’t mean that you will literally host the site on your personal desktop or laptop PC.
Choosing a Hosting Provider
There are a number of factors you want to consider when picking a provider, such as length of time in business, customer reviews, and costs. However, to ensure that you can upload WordPress quickly and hassle-free, you want to make sure that the one you choose has two applications called cPanel and Fantastico.
What are cPanel and Fantastico?
To fully answer that question would require many pages and take away from the topic at hand. For our purposes, let’s just say that they will make it much easier for you to install WordPress. Make certain that the provider you choose has both applications; HostGator is a good choice.
Switching Your Domain Name Servers to Your Hosting Account
Once you’ve chosen your provider, you’ll need help redirecting the name servers for your domain. The hosting company should have tutorials on its site that explain how to do this, or just email its support people.
Now we’re ready to install WordPress!
At this point you’ve picked and purchased your domain name, you’ve found a provider that will host your site, and you’re ready to install WordPress. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to your hosting provider’s site, log in to your account, and go to the cPanel page. If you don’t know how to get there, just type in your domain followed by /cpanel. For example, with the sample domain we used before, you would type in www.superterrificshoes.com/cpanel.
- Once on the cPanel page, scroll down until you see a link for an application called “Fantastico” or “Fantastico Deluxe.” It will probably have a blue smiley face above the name. Click on it.
- This will bring up the Fantastico page, and on it you will see a link for WordPress. Click on it. This will bring you to another page, where you’ll click on the link for a new installation.
- You’ll see a screen where you’ll be asked if you want to install WordPress in the domain or in a directory. Choose the domain option (we’ll cover adding WordPress to a directory in a later post).
- You’ll also be asked to create a username, password, nickname, and other information. Your nickname will be what WordPress lists as the author of any posts you put on your site. Fill this information out.
- At the bottom of the screen you will see a button to install WordPress. Click on it. You will then see a screen with some further info. and another button that says “finish installation.” Click on this one as well. Bingo! WordPress will be installed. From this point you can begin to build your site.
Completing these six steps is fairly straight forward and usually takes only a few minutes. If you run into problems or have questions for me, just post a comment below and I’ll reply within 24 hours. Thanks and good luck!