How to Create a Local WordPress Environment

In this article, I will show you how to create a local WordPress environment. Maybe you are thinking about starting a blog or website. Maybe you already have a self hosted website. Or maybe you are just wanting to learn how to use a Content Management System(CMS). Whatever the case may be, there are many benefits to having your content stored locally.

Install and Run XAMPP

Before you can install WordPress, you will need a web server to host it. XAMPP is a free, easy to use program that creates a local web server for your computer. It can be installed on Windows, MacOS, and Linux. You can download and install the latest version of XAMPP here.

After installation is complete, open the program on your computer. It should look like the image below (on Windows 10). MacOS will have fewer modules on its ‘Manage Servers’ tab.

XAMPP running on Windows 10.

Before you can access your new server, you must start the Apache and MySQL services. Once they are running, you can minimize, close, or quit the XAMPP control panel. If you close the program, it will minimize to your system tray. Regardless of what you do, the services will continue to run until you stop them.

Installing WordPress

Open your browser and enter ‘localhost’ in the URL bar. This opens your local XAMPP server page. At the bottom of the page, you will find a link that says ‘Bitnami XAMPP page‘. This link will open a new tab that has different modules that you can download and install locally on your server. For this example, we’re going to use WordPress.

During the install of WordPress, you will create a username and password for your local environment for WordPress. As with all accounts, don’t forget your username and password. After this step, it will ask you to name your blog. You can change the blog name at any time.

Additionally, the install allows you to set up email notifications and install to the cloud. As this is a local test environment, it won’t be necessary to set these up.

Finally, you can log in to your new local WordPress environment by entering ‘localhost/wordpress/wp-login’ in the URL bar. Use the credentials that you created when you installed WordPress. You could also view the site without logging in by entering ‘localhost/wordpress/‘.

Local WordPress Pros

Let us take a look at the pros of creating a local WordPress site.

Themes

Websites hosted at WordPress.com have a limited amount of themes to use on free accounts. More become available when you upgrade to a paid version. On your newly created WordPress server, you have access to a lot more themes. This gives you more options on how you want your website or blog to look. Also, any themes that you purchase can be installed on your local server.

For example, the current theme I’m using for this website is the Hueman theme. It is unavailable on WordPress.com(unless you pay for hosting?), and after reading about it on another blog, I wanted to try it out. So I installed Hueman in my local test environment and experimented with many settings. Being able to do this was beneficial.

Plugins

Plugins can help with SEO, forms, security, site speed, etc. There are a variety of plugins that you can install to assist your website or blog. Wouldn’t it be good to have a way to try them out and get familiar with them?

The free version on WordPress.com comes with one or two pre-installed plugins, and they removed the ability to install new ones unless you pay for an upgrade. Luckily, you can install any plugin you want on your local WordPress server.

As an example, SEO is a big deal when it comes to ranking on search engines, especially Google. The free account on WordPress.com doesn’t come with plugins that help with SEO. Wouldn’t it be nice to have AIOSEO or Yoast SEO available to rate your content and show you where to improve?

You can install and activate one of them on your new web server. Be sure not to activate both of them because they will cause unwanted conflicts. I use Yoast SEO on my local WordPress to assist with readability. That plugin highlights the lines of text that could be improved.

Development

As a developer, you wouldn’t want to use your live website to experiment with themes or plugins. One wrong line of code could bring your entire website down. Who really wants that?

If you ever wonder how people create and sell themes or plugins for WordPress, having a test environment is the answer. You can learn how to create and develop themes from scratch. Many resources are available online if you know where to look. Here is where I first started when learning how to develop themes. Personally, I’ve never tried to develop a plugin for WordPress.

Also, it is okay if you know little to nothing about coding and WordPress themes or plugins. Perhaps one day you will decide to dive in and become a developer, and have a starting point.

Content Backup

Chances are, you are going to produce content in your new test environment. And you will write, read, edit, publish, and view your content until it looks the way you want it. Afterwards, you’ll copy everything you created to your self-hosted or WordPress.com site. What remains on your local web server is essentially a backup of your content.

No Internet Required

Lastly, internet is not required to access your local server, so you can create and edit even on the road. This day and age, internet access is available almost anywhere in the United States. But in the rare occasion where you just can’t connect, you can still create content on your local test site.

Local WordPress Cons

Now let’s take a look at the cons of having a local WordPress site.

No Visitors

Only YOU can see your local site, no visitors will find it. And that’s not entirely bad. In the event you were developing something, and it went wrong, nobody would see it.

If you wanted visitors, I’m sure it could be done using a static IP address, permission from your ISP(Internet Service Provider), and a purchased domain pointing to the static IP. However, I don’t recommend trying to do this.

Transfer of Content

Once you create content you like, you’ll have to transfer what you produced to your live website. Fortunately, WordPress does come with the ability to export posts, pages, and entire sites.

WordPress Reader Unavailable

WordPress.com has a reader that allows other bloggers to easily find your posts. The reader is exclusive to WordPress.com and so posts from a local or self hosted website will not show up in the reader.

Summary

Having a CMS like WordPress installed locally is beneficial for any website owner. It has all the perks of a self-hosted website, minus being inaccessible to visitors.

In short, use this tool to learn and practice your web development skills. Experiment with new themes before changing your live website.

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