WordPress is essentially a bunch of files that are stored on a server, paired with a database. The database stores information such as page titles, content and relationships. The files (which are primarily written in a programming language called PHP) tell your server how to display and connect the information that is stored in the database - turning it into a website.
The main requirement to run WordPress is a suitable hosting server. The server needs to be able to run PHP and either a MySQL or MariaDB database.
A server is simply a computer (or a program, installed on a computer) that provides services to another computer program and its user (known as the client). In our case, our server is providing services to our web browser (such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Mozilla Firefox).
The term server can refer to a physical machine, a virtual machine or to software that is performing server services. To complete this tutorial you will first need to decide whether you are going to set your WordPress website up on a physical server (typically provided by a hosting company) or on a ‘virtual’ server set up on your own computer.
If you want to publish a website on the internet, you will need to set up your WordPress installation on a hosted server (generally provided by a hosting company). Sharing your website with others is obviously the biggest benefit of having a hosted installation, however the downside is that you will almost definitely need to pay for it. Another downside is that you may not be ready yet for others to view (or even know about) your website. You may also want a copy of a live website that isn’t public, that you can use to test out changes and ideas without a) others seeing them and b) having to pay for a hosting server.
This is where having a local installation of your website can be really handy. Developers often use these for building and creating websites, and testing changes before copying them, or publishing them, to the internet. They’re also a great option if you just want to learn your way around WordPress, without actually worrying too much about the website that results from your experimentation!
In the next part of this tutorial, you can choose whichever option best suits your needs. If you choose to set up a hosted environment we’ve partnered with an Australian hosting company called VentraIP to get you started with 12 months free domain name registration and 3 months free hosting. If, after 3 months, you would like to keep your website live, you will need to add credit card details to your account to keep it active. If you don’t wish to keep it live you can either close your account or let it expire.
If you would prefer to set up a local installation to play with you will need to have a computer capable of running the virtual server environment. If you fall into any of the following categories, we would recommend choosing the ‘hosted environment’ option as you will likely run into problems setting up the required software!
If you are running a third party antivirus/firewall solution (e.g. McAfee, Norton Antivirus) you may hit a few unexpected roadbumps during the setup process. If you get stuck, we recommend reaching out to a mentor for help!