Installing and Configuring WordPress on your Website
Zippy Courses is a WordPress plugin, which means that it takes advantage of many of the core functionality and content management abilities built into WordPress. When using WordPress, there are a few steps you can take at the very beginning of your setup to ensure that your site will function smoothly for a long time.
One Click Install
If you are using a shared hosting environment such as BlueHost or HostGator, you may have access to a one-click WordPress installer. If you think this may be an option for you, go ahead and look into the methods that your particular host uses for this setup, and follow the steps to set up your site.
One click installs offer convenience, but sometimes at the cost of flexibility or control. If you are comfortable using FTP to upload WordPress and you are familiar with your database credentials, we recommend going through WordPress's famous Five Minute Install.
To manually install WordPress on your own site, you will need 3 things:
- The latest version of WordPress
- FTP credentials for your site.
- Your MySQL host, database, username, and password.
Once you have these, use a tool such as FileZilla or CyberDuck to access your site via FTP.
Navigate to the folder you’d like to install WordPress to. In many cases, the folder for the root of your domain (what is accessible at http://YourSite.com) is called public_html, htdocs, or www, depending on your server configuration.
On your computer, unzip the latest version of WordPress into a folder. Upload the contents of this directory to your site using FTP. This may take a few minutes depending on your connection speed and your server settings.
When the upload has completed, visit your site in a browser such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. You should be greeted with a page inviting you to get started with your installation. Click on Get Started to continue.
You will be taken to a page with five fields:
- Database name: The name of your database that will store your information and options.
- Username: Your MySQL username.
- Password: Your MySQL password.
- Database Host: This is typically localhost on most servers. If this does not work for your configuration, contact your host in order to determine the database host.
- Table prefix: The standard option is simply ‘wp_’. For greater security, we recommend the wp_ prefix, followed by six random characters, resulting in something similar to ‘wp_O2aqRs_’. This makes it much harder for hackers to access your database.
Once these details are filled out correctly, click the Submit button. If all goes well, you’ll be greeted by a screen welcoming you to WordPress and asking you to fill out basic information about your site, including your Site Title, and then details about your admin account, including your Username and Password.
When choosing your Username, DO NOT use admin as your username. This used to be the default WordPress admin username, and is therefore a security risk if you choose to use it.
We highly recommend using secure passwords, which include the following:
- Uppercase character
- Lowercase character
- Punctuation mark (!@#$%^&*-=+:”‘/<>.,/\|)
- At least 10 characters long
WordPress will not force you to use good password practices, but as you will be selling content and responsible for customer information, it is very important that you do so.
If you would like to prevent search engines from accessing your site during the setup period, uncheck the checkbox next to Allow my site to appear in search engines, but do not forget to adjust the setting (more details below) once you go live.
When ready, click on Install WordPress, and after the installation is successful, you will be asked to log into WordPress for the first time using the username and password you just entered.
Congratulations! Let’s move on to configuring WordPress.
The Basic Settings
Once you log into your WordPress Admin Panel, near the bottom of the left hand menu, you’ll notice a Settings menu item. Click it, and you’ll arrive on your General Settings page.
The three most important settings for you on this page are:
- Site Title: What’s the name of your site? If you’re running one course, it can be the name of your course. If you’re running multiple, using the name of your brand is a good choice.
- Tagline: Your tagline will throw up in various places throughout the public facing side of your theme. It’s your company tagline or a few words about your site.
- E-mail Address: Technically, this is the admin email address – meaning that if your site sends emails, this is the From address, and when something happens on your site, this is where you’ll be getting a note from.
Make sure these three are set up to your preferences, and then under the Settings menu, click on Discussion.
Discussion settings dictate how people communicate on your site, specifically, how do they use the comments?
Keep in mind that many of these settings can be overridden on a per-post (or lesson) basis. Let’s walk through the key options in this section.
- Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article: When you write a post and link to another site, WordPress can send them a note and let them know that you’re writing about them. On or off is fine, as your content is protected by Zippy Courses. If your blog is publicly visible, we recommend keeping this on.
- Allow link notifications from other blogs: This is basically the opposite of the first option. When someone writes about you, would you like your site to be notified? If your blog is publicly visible, we recommend keeping this on, otherwise, it is safe to turn off.
- Allow people to post comments on new articles: This determines whether comments are automatically turned on or off for each post on your site. You can override this on a per-post basis.
- User must be registered and logged in to comment: This makes sure that only your users can comment on your site. If you have a public blog on the site, we recommend leaving this turned off.
- Before a comment appears, comment must be manually approved: If your site is not accessible to the public, we recommend disabling this option, as anyone posting a comment, will be a member.
- Before a comment appears, comment author must have a previously approved comment: If your site is not accessible to the public, we recommend disabling this option, as anyone posting a comment, will be a member.
These are the core discussion option configurations we recommend, but please read through all of the other options in this section as well to see if you would like to further customize your discussion experience.
When ready, click on Save Changes and proceed to the Reading section in your Settings menu.
There are two important options sections within your Reading Settings:
- Front page displays: This setting configures what someone sees when they land on your front page. There are only two options–your latest posts (an archive of your blogs posts) or a static page (a page you have already created). If you’ve already installed Zippy Courses, this should be set to a static page, with your “Home” page selected, and then the “Blog” page set for your posts page (an archive of your blog posts).
- Search Engine Visibility: When setting up your site, or even when running your courses, you may want to discourage Google from indexing your site so that it is less discoverable by accident. You may market your courses on your personal or business blog, so that you are driving very targeted traffic. This setting allows you to effectively “hide” your site from search engines, even while visitors are able to see your site.
You can also change the number of posts that are shown on your blog archive pages or in your RSS feed by modifying the other settings on your page, but these are not mandatory for solid site performance.
Once you’re ready, click Save and head over to Permalinks in your Settings menu.
By default, WordPress does not dictate how your URLs should look. This can cause a variety of issues with your Zippy Courses site, as Zippy courses relies on permalinks to connect everything together. You must set your permalinks if your web host does not set them by default. If you do not modify these settings, you’ll have links that look something like this:
And your courses will look like this:
Instead, we want our courses to look like this:
How do we do this? By setting a permalink structure. The default options in WordPress are based on many SEO best practices. We recommend that you use the Month and name structure or the Post name structure. Select one of these two options in the Common settings section by selecting the radio button next to the option and click the Save Changes button.
And that's it! Your WordPress settings are all set, and you're ready to go!
WordPress packs a lot of punch out of the box, but it doesn’t try to do everything for you. There are a few plugins that fill in the gaps of what is required to run a thriving website online. Here are the most notable in our experience:
WordFence Security is a plugin that beefs up the security of your WordPress installation. It has the ability to scan your website for known vulnerabilities, notice any unauthorized file changes and continuously keep your site safe in an online world where new risks appear on a regular basis. Install this and gain a little peace of mind.
The internet is a fluid medium, constantly changing and being updated. Broken Link Checker keeps an eye on any resource that share on your site and makes sure that the link is not broken. use this to make sure that any content share with your users is actually in the place you expect it to be.
Sometimes, you want your members to be able to send you information, whether it’s a contact form or a survey. These two plugins offer a complete form building and processing solution, allowing you to skip the third party service such as SurveyMonkey or a dedicated Contact Form plugin. Gravity Forms is a premium offering and has great third party extensions to work with. Ninja Forms is free, but many of the extension for Ninja Forms are premium offerings.