This guide shows step by step how to go from a freshly registered domain name to a live WordPress website in just 5 minutes (this website itself is running on WordPress).
No technical skills (computer or graphic design) are needed. All you need is a hosting account.
If you are going to use a registrar other than Namecheap, there will be a small difference with how you configure the domain’s name servers in Step 2 but it should be more or less the same outlined here.
The CMS (content management system) we will be installing is WordPress because:
- It’s free
- Robust, open source and extremely well supported
- Easier than using a word processor
- 1000’s of free and professional themes available
- Can be used to build any type of website imaginable
- Readymade plugins enable you to activate full ecommerce at the click of a button
WordPress is the publishing platform of choice for bloggers, small businesses and global corporations. Once installed you can create pages, blog posts and customise the design – all through the easy to use control panel.
Step 1 – Register Domain
Login to namecheap.com and visit Domains > Registrations. Find a domain name you want that is available to register and complete the registration process.
Namecheap offer free Whois protection with domain registrations and its worth taking this up. It keeps your personal address details out of the publicly accessible Whois databases (and away from potential spammers).
Step 2 – Configure Your Domain Name Servers
With the domain name registered it should be visible instantly under My Account > Manage Domains. Clicking the domain name will take you to the management page for it.
Click the menu item Domain Name Server Setup and you should see the screen below:
You will need to set at least 2 name servers, but depending on your host this could be 3 or more. The name servers themselves will be specific to your hosting provider who should have already provided you with them.
These DNS (domain name servers) records, let the rest of the Internet know where the server that is responsible for your domain name is located.
So when someone enters your domain name into their web browser, their computer will request the address attached to that domain name, and then send the request there. If the address set has been configured correctly for the domain, it will respond and hopefully return the corresponding webpage.
Your domain name registrar has effectively washed its hands of your domain once the name servers are changed, unless you change the name server records back. This is how a website can be moved from one server to another: by changing the name server records and configuring that server to accept requests for that domain name.
Step 3 – Configure Domain Hosting
Login to your web hosting control panel. If you are not using cPanel powered hosting you have either got the wrong hosting package or will be able to install WordPress without this guide.
After logging in you need to find the section for Domains. The below screenshot shows what it looks like and also includes the Databases controls which will be needed in Step 5 below.
Click Add-on Domains to get to the following screen:
FTP Username and password will be required to login to the server and upload the website pages from your computer to the server. The document root usually auto fills itself once you set the domain name. I change mine as shown above – moving public_html after the domain name and separated by a forward slash: yourdomain.com/public_html/.
Once this form has been submitted, the server will be ready to handle requests for the domain name that you are adding.
How to Install WordPress
At this stage, the domain name and hosting are configured and ready to go! It will take a few minutes though for the DNS system to update, and maybe for your hosting to fully configure itself to serve requests for your domain name.
To install WordPress you can either do it manually or with the Softaculous installer.
Most hosting companies build Softaculous into cPanel. Softaculous makes the installation of software easier. If you do choose to install WordPress with Softaculous you can skip the rest of the tutorial.
However, if you don’t have access to cPanel OR Softaculous you will need to do it the manual way and resume with the rest of these steps. There’s not much left to do though so don’t worry.
Step 4 – Download WordPress
Download the latest copy of WordPress to your computer and unzip it.
In the unzipped folder there will be a wp-config-sample.php file. Rename it to wp-config.php and then open it with a text editor ready for the next step.
Step 5 – Configure Database
WordPress needs to be configured to work with a database on your server hosting. This is done by editing the wp-config.php file.
Go back to cPanel and click the MySql Databases option as shown in the image above. You should then see a page with a few forms including the one below to create a new database:
cPanel will try to pre-fix your database with your username and an underscore. This will combine with whatever you put in the text field to form the database name.
The database name then needs to be entered in the wp-config.php file. Change: define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘database_name_here’); to define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘username_databasename’);.
Now do the same with the MySql user form. Create a new user and enter the username and password into the appropriate fields of the wp-config.php file.
Replace: define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_here’); with define(‘DB_USER’, ‘username_dbuser’); AND define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘password_here’); with define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘YOURPASSWORD’);
The last step here in cPanel is to now add the MySql user you created to the database and give them permission to access it.
In the Add User To Database form, select the user and database just created and click the Add button.
The following screen will ask you to select the permissions to give to the user. Just check the ALL PRIVILEGES box which should select them all, and click Make Changes
That’s cPanel finished with. Now just need to upload WordPress and we’re done.
While reading through this it may seem hard to believe this can be done in 5 minutes – but once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll see there’s really nothing to it and it can be done in 5 minutes.
Step 6 – Upload WordPress
You downloaded a copy of WordPress and configured the wp-config.php to match up with the database credentials created in Step 5. It’s time to upload those files from your computer to the hosting server under your website.
But first there are a couple of changes that can be made to the wp-config.php file:
- Change the table prefix: $table_prefix = ‘wp_’;
- Replace the instances of ‘put your unique phrase here’ with a unique string
Both of these are security measures while changing the table prefix also enables you to run multiple WordPress installations from the same database.
The table prefix is by default set to wp_. You could change it to the first 2 letters of your domain for example. Then, if you add another WordPress domain to your hosting, the database step can be simplified by just reusing the same database, username and password as created previously, but use a unique table prefix here.
Replacing put your unique phrase here makes it harder to crack passwords. You could just quickly type a few characters into different parts of each string instead of deleting and writing something unique from scratch.
To get the files from your computer uploaded to the domain hosting you are going to need to use an FTP (file transfer protocol) client.
Its a fairly simple program to use and works in a similar way to moving files between your computer and a USB memory stick.
Once open you have successfully connected to your server using the username and password assigned in Step 3, your computer folder directories will be on the left, and your web server on the right. Navigate to the relevant folders on each side and drag the files and folders across from your computer to the hosting.
Before doing so, you might want to make sure you are uploading to the right place.
In the WordPress directory you are about to upload, there should be a readme.html file. Upload this file on its own first. You should be able to access it via yourdomain.com/readme.html.
If you can then upload the rest of the files and folders. If not you are going to need to find the right folder to upload to and then upload the rest of the files.
When the files have all been successfully uploaded to the server the last step takes a few seconds to complete the installation process.
Step 7 – Install WordPress
Visit the root url of your blog e.g yourdomain.com. You should now see the WordPress installation screen:
This will you set the site title and create an administrator user. After this you can login to the site. You can add more users or remove this user at any point.
This guide covered how to:
- Register a domain name
- Point the name servers to a hosting server
- Configure the hosting server for the domain name
- Created a database, user, and assigned privileges
- Configured WordPress and uploaded it via an FTP client
- Completed the installation and logged in to begin administering
This guide takes you as far as completing the initial WordPress installation and nothing more.
You can view the publicly accessible website and login to the password protected admin area. The next steps are to customise and configure WordPress:
- Install and activate additional themes
- Customise the website appearance
- Add pages and blog posts
- Change the menus
- Make your website as search engine friendly as possible
- Add tracking
New users to WordPress will be surprised how much you can do with just a few button clicks. Free plugins can be installed to add full ecommerce support, provide content in a course format, make access to the website only available to paying members.
We intend to add more guides covering these topics shortly.