Installing WordPress – Useful tips

I’m assuming if you’ve landed on this page you’re wondering about installing WordPress.

This won’t go over the installation methods step by step. There are plenty of types of installs, and various resources that can do a much better job at that. This post, instead, will hopefully just dispel some of the confusion you’ll undoubtedly have when trying to track down useful information about WordPress and its many many features / plugins /extensions.

Lets start with a common one. WordPress.com VS. WordPress.org. If you don’t have webspace already bought from a provider, in Digishock’s case, Websavers.ca you can have WordPress installation hosted entirely from WordPress.com. This site allows you to sign up for an account and immediately start customizing your new site with themes, plugins, and a whole slew of additional services to get your blog up and running and optimized for search.

Some benefits include:

  1. Free storage of your site on WordPress.com servers
  2. Security, updates, backups etc. are all managed by WordPress and included.
  3. You can add a custom Domain Name to avoid the aggravating wordpress.com/thissite/yesthisone/yourname/etc…

WordPress.org is a bit different. If you’ve decided to host your own space (build and manage an internet facing web-server), or have bought space with a host that doesn’t offer easy to install versions of the WordPress application, you can download the requisite files and do it yourself. This requires no sign-up and is really more of the grass roots of the application. Arguably, this is the most customizable method of installation if you are capable decide to build your own theme as well.

Some benefits include:

  1. Complete control over the installation
  2. Complete control over the database that WordPress interacts with.
  3. Complete control over backups / security
  4. If you’re hosting the service as well, you have complete control over all of your sites data.

Lastly, and I mentioned this earlier in the post, you can have the best of both worlds with this final WordPress installation method. If you have a website hosted with  a provider that allows you to install WordPress with a “one-click” style application, you can follow the prompts to your next website.

Some benefits include:

  1. Easy installation of WordPress and Associated Database.
  2. Control over the backups / security of the WordPress install and the Database.
  3. Ability to modify, query, backup, or add directly to the Database WordPress sits on.
  4. Ability to modify the WordPress installation itself.
  5. Ability to purchase a Domain Name and associate it with your WordPress site.

Once you have WordPress installed, you need to manage it. After all, the most important part of your site is its content. If you browse via your browser to www.yoursite.com/wp-admin you can log into the “Dashboard” of your WordPress site. This is where the content such as Pages, Categories, Posts, Tags etc. are created. It’s also through this page that you can extend the capability of your site via Plugins. Pieces of code, or software packages that can add specific capabilities that your site originally never had.

Often, if you search for methods to allow your site to accomplish something (connect to social media, perform some automated task, prompt for login) you will be presented with third-party Plugins that allow it. This is where much of the strength of WordPress lays.

Additionally, when you want to change the appearance of your site, you can add in Themes. The themes themselves can extend the menu tree of your Dashboard. Or incorporate more menu items that allow for additional control of their settings. You might have noticed some of your plugins doing the same thing. This is not always the case, though. Sometimes the settings for your theme or plugin get buried in an existing menus causing you to root a bit more than you would like.

Finally, you have the Dashboard itself. It is, in essence, its own application capable of being customized. In many cases, settings configured for the WordPress install through the Dashboard are parsed and used in the plugins and themes you install also. This Dashboard also gives you complete control over the files that control how your site looks. These settings are a bit more advanced, and should only be modified if you know what you’re doing.

Recap:

  1. WordPress is an application that gets installed on your server, a server, or a hosts server that can or cannot be reachable via the public internet.
  2. WordPress interacts with a Database hosted locally, or remotely, to provide your sites content and manage all of its persistent data.
  3. WordPress is one of the most popular hosting platforms, and easily one of the most customizable allowing you to create almost limitless site possibilities.
  4. The Dashboard is where you can manage your WordPress installation, the third-party plugins to extend its capabilities, and the themes that are used to visually display your content.
  5. Content is created from the Dashboard and made available via WordPress, your Database, and your hosting method.
  6. And finally, before installing WordPress, evaluate your needs and technology comfort level to choose between self-hosted, service hosted, or third-party hosted variants of the application.

If you have any corrections, or comments, or would like clarification on any of the points email me at comments@digishock.ca, or leave comments in the comments section below.