WordPress: Basic checklist when setting up a new site

October 11, 2012

A friend recently ran into some issues setting up a new WordPress website. It was a big hairy ordeal that could have been avoided by keeping in mind a few simple steps. I am going to share with you the initial steps I take whenever I setup a new WordPress website. This is not an article to teach you how to get a great optimized site setup, but rather the basics behind the process of getting a basic WordPress website running that you can then begin to build on top of. Here we go:

  • Check your server file permissions. Unless your web host provides a one-click solution, you will be uploading the WordPress files to your host yourself. Before you can do this you should check the permissions on the server to make sure that can upload the files. This is easily found out by attempting to upload a small file. If you do not have permissions you will probably need to ask your host to fix it for you.
  • Does a database exist that WordPress can use? WordPress uses a database to store all of your site content. Before installing WordPress you need to make sure a database has been created that WordPress can use. These days most web hosts have tools that allow you to create and manage databases. Look through the documentation you were provided by your host and you should find that information. Sometimes a host will have a database created for you already, they should have provided you with all the details.
  • Do I have the connection details for the database? You will need the following information: database server URL, database name, database user, database password. If you used an online tool to create the database use the information you provided there, otherwise your host will have the information you need.
  • Use the install wizard to check the database and build the config. Visit the site in your browser and you will see a form to fill in your database information. Fill in the data and after you submit WordPress will check and make sure it has a good connection to the database. If WordPress cannot connect you need to go back and check your details. After you verify them if you still cannot connect you may need to contact your web host.
  • wp-config.php file not created? Usually at this point you can login to your site, but if WordPress was unable to write the wp-config.php file you have an issue with your file system permissions. You should be able to copy the provided config text manually and WordPress should pick it up. It should be noted that usually your web server will run as a user other than the user you are logging in as. This is normal and is done for security reason. If you hit this point and cannot get any further you will need to contact your host and have them set the permissions for you so the server can create the config file.