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WordPress Web Hosting Help Part I – Introduction, installation and setup

Introduction

As someone with an interest in the web, if you’ve not heard about WordPress by now, I’m going to assume you’ve been living under a whole heap of rocks, covered with moss and frozen over with ice. WordPress Creator Matt Mullenweg recently spoke with Time magazine (Time Matt Mullenweg Interview) on how massively popular his blogging tool has become – now powering a whopping 18.9% of the web. Just stop and think about that for a second. Nearly a fifth of the entire world wide web is using WordPress web hosting on a completely free piece of software, barely ten years old.

Calling WordPress a blogging tool though, is like calling a Ferrari a metal box with four wheels that moves people from A to B.  Embracing the open source community, WordPress has evolved into a powerful content management tool with plugins to suit any need and a range of endlessly expanding themes.  You don’t get to underpin vast swathes of the Internet without some tricks up your sleeves and through the course of this five series blog piece – we hope to show you a few – not to mention why we love this piece of software so much.

To get the best results from WordPress you need three simple things:

• a great web host
• a domain name
• a little bit of free time (but not much!)

While there are several ways to use WordPress, a fully hosted approach confers you the greatest level of flexibility and control over your website.  If you don’t like your webhost, no problem – you can backup your data, export it, and re-import to any other host you like. There’s no lock in (or at least there should not be) to a proprietary system with WordPress.  A true hosted solution lets you select and use your own domain name too, which for any serious website is a must.

Installation

With your domain name registered, hosting purchased, and 24 hours waited (DNS has gotta propagate folks!) its time to begin.

WordPress is a relatively simple tool to install these days.  The most convoluted way forward is download the latest version from wordpress.com, upload to your webspace and run through the manual install process – however that’s usually never needed these days.  Most hosting providers now offer a one click solution to install WordPress. 34SP.com is no different – if you’re an existing client you can add WordPress to your account via our control panel installers, or if you’re new to 34SP.com, you can signup (link: http://wordpresshosting.34sp.com/install-wordpress) with the program preinstalled from day one.

Setup

Much like building a house, a successful website needs solid foundations. The setup choices you make early can have long last implications.

First of all, we recommend making sure installation WordPress is up to date.  Auto installers are great, but often they can lag slightly behind the latest version. Login to your admin area (almost always www.DOMAIN/wp-admin) and look at the top centre area of the screen.  If WordPress needs an update you will see something like:

http://www.domain/wp-admin

If you see a similar message, we advise you to select that ‘please update now’ option sooner than later. Your WordPress install will take care of the update all by itself.  While an update error is very rare, if your’re a 34SP.com client we’re available seven days a week to lend a hand over email and the phone. Yep, that was the hard sell, but cmon, you’re reading the 34SP.com website and we need to pay the bills 😉

Once your install is up to date select the “Settings” option from the left hand menu.  To save yourself several “what the heck was I thinking” moments down the line, take a moment to study
the various settings carefully.  Most items are self explanatory. For example, under the general options select a site name, a tagline that deftly explains your site and make sure the correct timezone for your site is set.

The “Writing” and “Reading” sections deal with how you create your posts and how they are displayed.  The “Discussion” option allows you to control how users interact with your posts and the “Media” option, how images are handled by your site.

Perhaps the most overlooked option is the “Permalinks” setting.  What you choose here determines how the pages of your site are named, which in turn has long reaching effects.  The default option is perhaps the most unhelpful and names your posts in this rather enigmatic fashion:

www.bacon.com/?p=1
www.bacon.com/?p=2
www.bacon.com/?p=3

My personal choice is the second option, “day and name”, which gives your rather more intelligently chosen names:

www.bacon.com/2013/08/09/what-is-bacont/
www.bacon.com/2013/08/15/why-i-like-bacon/
www.bacon.com/2013/08/20/give-me-all-your-bacon/

Not only is this better for your website visitors, but it dramatically alters how search engines index your site data, and can mean far more visitors to your site.

As you add plugins and themes to your site, your range of options the the Settings area will increase, allowing you to tweak and configure these add-ons.

Coming soon, part two – themes!

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