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Beti Paunoska   My Press Releases

WORDPRESS: CHOOSING A HOST AND GETTING STARTED

Published on 8/2/2017
For additional information  Click Here

Getting Started

The two main things you need to start a Website are a domain name and a hosting service. Historically, these were two separate things purchased independently from two different providers. You purchased your domain name from a domain name registrar and you purchased hosting space from a Web hosting service. These days, many of the hosting services have obtained the credentials to register domain names or have, at least, contracted with a registrar to resell domain names for them. The result is that you can now usually purchase your domain name from your Web hosting service as part of a bundled package. However, they are still separate and certain rules pertain to registration of domain names that can't be altered by the hosting service. Thus, the take-a-way is to be aware that you can keep your domain name should you decide to change hosting services or you can, should the need ever arise, move your domain name to another registrar while keeping the same hosting service. If you already have a domain name previously registered, you should be able to use it with any hosting service.

Choosing A Host

There are many factors to consider when choosing a hosting service. Price, of course, is always an important factor. Reliability is another. Most hosting services will publicize their average "downtime" (which should be a very low fraction to be acceptable). You want to know where their servers are located, whether the server facility is climate-controlled and monitored onsite 24/7, as well as whether they have backup generators for power outages. You also want to know whether they have backup servers in another location in case of storm, flood or other natural disaster at the main site.

You should also inquire regarding the type of hosting control panel the service provides. Hosting "control panels" are Web-based interfaces allowing you to manage various server configurations and services from the comfort of a Web browser. These panels allow you to set your domain name, upload your Web files, set up your email, install applications (like content management systems and credit card shopping carts that help you create and maintain your Website), install databases, and set usernames and passwords for the various functions such as ftp, database access, and email. The type of control panel used by the hosting service may or may not be a factor for you depending on your prior experience. The most common hosting control panels among the 20 or so in use are C-Panel, Plesk, Direct-Admin, and ISPManager. Some hosting services have designed their own proprietary control panels as well. Make sure that the hosting service you consider has a control panel that is easy to manage.

 

Installing WordPress

When you use a hosting service with WordPress available, installation is a very simple process. Log into your control panel for the hosting service and scroll to "installations" or "applications" or similar section and then look for WordPress within the list of applications. Simply click "install" and answer any prompts that may come up. It should only take a short period of time for the installation to complete.

If, for some reason, you have a hosting setup that does not include WordPress, follow these WordPress instructions for the type of hosting environment you have.

One important choice you will need to make is to select the directory within your Website to install WordPress. If you plan on using other CMS's or app files that require an extension other than .php (WordPress files have a .php extension) alongside your WordPress installation, you may want to create a subdirectory within which to install WordPress (ex: /wp). This way you can run other apps or services within your root directory and point your WP files back to these services as needed. One drawback to this, however, is that you cannot easily move your WordPress installation to another directory later. (It can be done, but it gets a little tedious to straighten out all the paths involved in the links and calls.) If you don't plan to run other apps that require a different file extension, it is better to install WordPress directly into the root directory.

The second step to installation is to make sure that you have installed the latest version of WordPress. You can do this by logging into your WordPress Dashboard (more on this below) and clicking on "updates." If indicated that a newer version is available, click to install the update.

Logging Into Your WordPress Dashboard

After installing WordPress, you will be asked to set a userid and password for your Dashboard. You need to record your username and password in a safe place for easy future reference. You also need to record the URL to access your WordPress Dashboard.

If you installed WordPress in your root directory, that URL will be:

http://[your-domain-name]/wp-admin.

If you installed in a subdirectory, the URL will be:

http://[your-domain-name]/[your-subdirectory]/wp-admin

These three pieces of information (the URL for your dashboard, your username, and your password) will get you back into the WordPress Dashboard from any Web browser, without necessity of logging into your hosting service's control panel first.

Choosing A Theme

After updating to the latest version of WordPress if necessary, your next step is to choose your theme. Your choice of theme will change both your dashboard and the appearance of your Website. Choosing the right theme for your needs is worth the time and effort required. Although you may be impatient to get started with your content, you should take your time and choose the best WordPress theme for your needs. WordPress will come with a couple or more built-in themes. The latest built-in WordPress theme at the time of this writing is "Twenty Seventeen" and it's a pretty good one for many types of Websites. Like WordPress itself, this theme is totally free.

There are many other free themes you can choose from as well, including others created by WordPress.org in addition to those created by many third party providers. There are also many "premium themes" that have varying costs. When you select a premium theme, pay attention to the user rights you receive upon purchase. Some prices are only for use on one Website, while other options may extend to unlimited use on any number of sites.

Refer back to your branding considerations when choosing a theme. You want to select a theme that matches your style. You also need to make sure your chosen theme has the functionality you desire (or is compatible with plugins that provide the functionality you desire).

It is not uncommon for one to decide to change themes down the road. Be aware, however, that changing a theme may require rebuilding the structure of your site. While most themes will carry forward the content of your posts and pages, you will often lose your menu structure and your categories layout. It is important to back up your Website completely before changing themes. Should the new theme prove unmanageable, you can simply reinstall the site from your backup.

Installing Your Plugins

After installing your theme, it is best to Immediately proceed to install your necessary plugins. Many of the themes will tell you which plugins you should install to provide the full functionality of the theme. There are other plugins that should be installed as well. You can always install more plugins later as your needs are determined with experience, but it's important to go ahead and install the basic ones before you begin to configure your site. We will discuss and provide configuration suggestions for these commonly used and very helpful plugins for you in the next lesson. For now, I will list the most important ones so you can go ahead and install them, if you like: Akismet, Contact Form 7, Flamingo, Yoast SEO, and User Profile Picture. After installation, you may want to wait for the next lesson to "activate" and configure them, however.

CONCLUSION

The two main things you need to start a Website are a domain name and a hosting service. These are often sold together now in bundled packages by the Web hosting service. There are many factors to consider when choosing a hosting service: price, reliability, safeguards at the server site, offsite backup system, type of control panel, and availability of WordPress. When you use a hosting service with WordPress available, installation is a very simple process. Log into your control panel for the hosting service and scroll to "installations" or "applications" or similar section and then look for WordPress within the list of applications. Simply click "install" and answer any prompts that may come up including the destination directory. It should only take a short period of time for the installation to complete. After installing WordPress, you will be asked to set a userid and password for your Dashboard. Record these, plus the URL of your dashboard in a safe place for future reference. Then, you should log into your dashboard, update the WordPress version if necessary, and choose and install your theme. Then, you should begin installing necessary plugins required by your theme plus, Akismet, Contact Form 7, Flamingo, Yoast SEO, and User Profile Picture.

For our purposes, since we are going to be working with WordPress, the availability of WordPress as an application that can be easily installed from the control panel is a must. Most, but not all, Web hosting services include WordPress in their available applications. Make sure the one you choose does include WordPress.

(It should be mentioned that an alternative to acquiring hosting space from an alternative Web hosting service is to use the WordPress.com hosting service and access WordPress through its own server. The functionality is limited and you lose many benefits you could obtain from a standard hosting service, but, if you are technically challenged, this may be a good option for you.)

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