I’ll skip over planning your site for now and head right into development. You’re going to want to installed on a server before you can begin developing a theme, throwing content in, etc. There are a couple ways to get WordPress installed so you can begin playing around with it.
I should mention first off that there are a couple basic requirements for installing WordPress. Most web hosts do but you should confirm before signing up for service.
To run WordPress we recommend your host supports:
Many web hosting providers have a “one-click” WordPress install. By all means, DO feel free to use this if you have the option. You can learn about manually creating a database and installing WordPress at another time, if you want, or just be happy that you are that much closer to having a WordPress powered website. I’ll put a special “skip ahead” link for those who want to get started with themes and plugins.
If you are inclined to manually install WordPress or are using a hosting provider that does not have this option, download WordPress from WordPress.org.
You will then need to create a MySQL database and upload WordPress to your host using FTP. Instructions for creating a database vary by hosting provider.
This article explains the installation process for WordPress far better than I could hope to.
Also, If you want to develop your website locally on your own machine, you’ll need a web server (like Apache), PHP and MySQL. I’d recommend MAMP(for Mac) or WAMP(Windows) or LAMP(Linux) so you test everything out before uploading to the web. This will make development a lot faster since you won’t be using FTP or the WordPress dashboard to edit your CSS and theme files. A note about using the dashboard editor to edit php files – don’t do it! If you break something and whitescreen your site, you can’t undo. You will end up having to ftp to your site to fix it anyway.
More about local development later…
Further Reading about Installation on the WordPress Codex: