How to Install WordPress

WordPress logoWelcome to the third part in our Blogging for Expats WordPress tutorial series. Previously, we’ve looked at choosing a domain name and a web host and then purchasing and setting them up.

Now you’re ready to install WordPress. WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world, used by over 25 million sites. (Read more about it here.) WordPress makes it easy to set up an attractive, functional site without knowing anything about programming or computer code.

This tutorial will walk you through how to:

  • use your host’s installation tool to install WordPress
  • update to the most recent version of WordPress
  • clean out the themes

Install WordPress Using Your Web Host’s Tools

There are two ways to install WordPress. Most hosting services offer some sort of “1-click” installation, which I’ll walk you through. The other is a manual installation.

Before you start, you need to know that there are two parts to a WordPress installation: WordPress itself, and a database to run it. These instructions include both.

Installers from different hosts may call themselves different names (Fantastico and Elefante are two of the popular ones), but the basic process is similar.

  1. Log into your host’s control panel and locate the free application installer.
  2. Locate WordPress and click on it.
  3. Select the domain for your installation. (If you only have one domain, that’s pretty simple!)
  4. Create a database to run your WordPress installation. This might be a checkbox that says “create a database” or “add a database”. Follow the prompts to create the database and password.
  5. Fill in the blanks for information on the WordPress installation. You’ll need to create a password, specify an email account, the title of your blog, and the name of your database that you just created.Very important: The automatic setup will try to create the database with the user name “admin.” Do not do this! Change “admin” to something else. If it won’t let you — and some won’t — you can deal with it later, but having “admin” as a user name creates a huge security hole and you don’t want to go there.
  6. Some installers will want you to choose a theme. Don’t do this unless you’re forced to — WordPress comes with a perfectly adequate pre-installed theme and you should start with that. If you’re forced to select one of their themes, I’ll show you how to get rid of it later.
  7. Click the “install” or “create” button.
  8. Make sure you write down and save all the information on the next screen: it will include the name of the database, the link you click on to administer the site, your username and password.
  9. Click the link to go to the administration area, and type in your username and password.
  10. Now you’re ready to build your blog!

Use the Latest Version of WordPress

WordPress admin area

Sometimes your host won’t install the most up-to-date version of WordPress. You’ll know as soon as you log into the administration area, known as the Dashboard, because WordPress will tell you. If you see the words “WordPress 3.X.X is available! Please update now!” go ahead.

  1. Click the “please update now” link. You’ll see two buttons, “Update Automatically” and “Download 3.X.X” (It won’t really say “3.X.X,” it will have numbers in all three spots. That’s the version number. As I’m writing this, we’re up to version 3.0.5.)
  2. Don’t worry about the message that tells you to create backups before updating — you don’t have anything to back up yet, so — just this once — go ahead without backing up.
  3. Click the “Update Automatically” button. You’ll know your update worked when you see the message, “WordPress updated successfully.”
  4. Click “go to Dashboard.” Notice you no longer see the message at the top about a newer version being available!

Were Your Forced to Install a Theme? Get Rid of it Now

If you were forced to select a theme during the installation process, you want to get rid of it right away. Why? Usually the themes you’re given to choose from are from themza, and they often cause problems with your blog.

Don’t worry, we’ll get into choosing a theme later. There are thousands of available themes, both free and paid. Some are very, very good and some are not. The theme plays a big role in how well WordPress works, so when you’re starting out it’s important for the installation to be squeaky clean.
Appearance / themes

  1. Look on the left side of your screen and you’ll see the label Appearance.
  2. Click the arrow next to it to expand it, and then click Themes.
  3. On the new page that appears, you’ll see the Current Theme at the top — that’s the one the installer made you choose — and Available Themes below it.
  4. The available theme is called “Twenty Ten” and it comes with WordPress. Before you can get rid of the other, you need to activate this one so scroll down until you see the links underneath it.
  5. Click “activate.”
  6. Now Twenty Ten is at the top of the page. Scroll down until you see the links underneath the theme you don’t want, and click “delete.”
  7. WordPress pops up a confirmation window. Click “OK.”

Now, when the page reloads, you only have one theme, Twenty Ten.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully installed WordPress.

In our next WordPress tutorial, we’ll go over how to change your administration username and talk about themes.

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