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How to build a WordPress site without going live

How to Build a WordPress Site Without Going Live 

Written By: author image Joella Dunn
author image Joella Dunn
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.
     Reviewed By: John Turner
reviewer image John Turner
John Turner is the President of Duplicator. He has over 20+ years of business and development experience and his plugins have been downloaded over 25 million times.

Ever had that amazing website idea, but the pressure of hitting “publish” made you hesitate? 

What if you could build your WordPress site without that constant worry? Here’s the secret weapon: offline development. 

By creating your website in a local environment, you can unleash your inner designer and developer with total peace of mind. This approach is a game-changer not just for beginners, but for freelancers and large teams as well.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to build a WordPress site without going live!

Quick Summary

1. Choose a local development environment.
To set up your new website without going live, you’ll need a local development environment. Popular options are LocalWP, MAMP, WampServer, and XAMPP.
2. Install WordPress.
If you choose a beginner-friendly option like LocalWP, simply create a new site and set up your login credentials. Environments like WAMP or MAMP require you to install WordPress.
3. Create a database.
Next, create a database for your local site. You’ll have to find your phpMyAdmin dashboard for this.
4. Log in and start building your site.
Finally, sign into your new local wp-admin dashboard. Here, you can install new software and start customizing your website!

Why Build a WordPress Site Without Going Live?

Picture this: you’re creating your dream website, experimenting with layouts, and trying out new plugins – all without worrying about the public eye. That’s the beauty of building your WordPress site offline. 

Here are some ways it can transform your website creation experience.

Error-Free Changes

Say goodbye to the fear of hitting publish on an unfinished masterpiece. With offline development, your work is your own until you’re absolutely in love with it. 

No more panicking about typos or wonky layouts. You can experiment freely, tweak your content, and refine your vision without any pressure.


Testing new plugins and themes is essential for building a great website, but doing it on your live site can be nerve-wracking. 

Using a staging site, you can try out new features without putting your live site at risk. It’s like a testing playground, ensuring you’re not introducing any unexpected bugs or vulnerabilities to your visitors.


Website speed is king when it comes to user experience. By working offline, you can fine-tune your website’s performance without any distractions. 

Imagine optimizing images, testing loading times, and ensuring your site runs like a dream – all before it ever goes live. That’s the power of offline development!


Working on a website with a team? Local development is your secret weapon. 

You can easily share your local site with team members for feedback and collaboration, making sure everyone’s on the same page before pushing the final product live. This collaborative approach can save tons of time and frustration, leading to a smoother and more efficient workflow.

How to Build a WordPress Site Without Going Live

Ready to build your next WordPress site with confidence? We’ll show you create your website without going live. Let’s get started!

Step 1: Choose a Local Development Environment 

Let’s start setting up your offline website! The first step is choosing your local development environment, which acts as your own private testing ground. 

Here are a few popular options:

  • LocalWP by Flywheel
  • MAMP
  • WampServer
  • DevKinsta

Feeling overwhelmed by all the choices? Consider reading our blog post about the best local development environments. This handy cheat sheet will help you find the right option for you!

Make sure the local environment is compatible with your computer’s operating system. In this tutorial, I used MAMP and LocalWP, but Windows users might prefer WAMP or XAMPP. 

Once you have found a local environment for your needs, download it. 

Each of these local development environments will have different installation processes. I’ll show you how this works on MAMP. 

After downloading MAMP, open the app and set the Apache Port to 80.

MAMP ports

Under the Server tab, feel free to edit the document root folder. This will be where your local site lives on your computer.

MAMP server settings

By default, MAMP’s document root will be set to Applications » MAMP » htdocs.

If you opt for a more beginner-friendly tool like LocalWP, all you’ll need to do is install the software on your computer. It doesn’t need any extra configuration.  

Step 2: Install WordPress

With your development environment chosen, it’s time to install WordPress software! This gives you the foundation to create a WordPress website.

Installing WordPress on LocalWP

If you opted for the beginner-friendly LocalWP route, installing WordPress is a breeze. All you’ll need to do is create a new site.

Create new LocalWP site

Name your local site. If you prefer, you can set it up on a custom PHP version, web server, and database type.

Local site name

Assign a username, password, and email to the new WordPress website. 

LocalWP WordPress login

After this, LocalWP will automatically install WordPress for you! You can log into your admin area and start customizing your site. 

Installing WordPress on MAMP

For those using MAMP, WAMP, or XAMPP, the installation process requires a few more steps. But don’t worry, it’s still manageable! 

Open and download the latest version of WordPress.

Download WordPress software

Extract the zip file, which will give you a wordpress folder. Copy this.

Find the folder where you installed MAMP. Inside this, paste your wordpress folder. Rename it anything you like. (I named mine local-site).

MAMP local site folder

Step 3: Create a Database

If you’re using a local development environment like MAMP, WAMP, or XAMPP, you’ll need to create a MySQL database for your local site. Don’t worry about this step for LocalWP.

First, open phpMyAdmin for your local site. You should be able to do this with one of these links:



On the left side, click New. Name the database and create it.

Create new local database

Step 4: Open Your Local WordPress Site

In a new browser, search for this URL: http://localhost

This pulls up a welcome page.

Local WordPress install

When prompted, enter this information:

  • Database Name: [the database you just created]
  • Username: root
  • Password: root
  • Database Host: localhost
  • Table Prefix: wp_
Local database details

You’ll also need to choose a username and password for your WordPress admin page. You could also discourage search engines from indexing your new staging environment.

Set up WordPress login

And that’s all you need to get started. 

If you’re using LocalWP, you’ll have to open the app, select your local site, and hit WP Admin.

LocalWP WP Admin button

Use your username and password to access the WordPress dashboard. 

Step 5: Customize Your Local Website

Now that you have WordPress installed, it’s time to unleash your inner designer and developer! This is where the offline development magic truly shines. 

You can start installing new themes and plugins to help you design your site. Remember, no one will see your changes, so you can play around with any tools without fear.

If you’re new to web design, there are fantastic tools like SeedProd. SeedProd is a drag-and-drop theme builder that allows you to create beautiful and functional page layouts without needing to write any code. 

SeedProd website builder plugin

To create your theme, you can choose a pre-designed layout. This is a great option for beginners who want a beautiful website without getting bogged down in technical details.

Select SeedProd theme

WordPress offers a vast library of themes and plugins that can add functionality to your website. However, with so many options available, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. Here are some tips.

Look for themes and plugins from trusted marketplaces like the official WordPress theme directory or plugin directory. These have review systems and quality control measures to ensure you’re getting reliable products.

Before installing any theme or plugin, take some time to read reviews from other users. This can give you valuable insights into the product’s functionality, ease of use, and customer support.

WordPress plugin details

Don’t get carried away installing every cool theme or plugin you come across. Focus on choosing themes and plugins that address specific needs and functionalities for your website.

Here are some of the best plugins out there:

If you’re still not sure where to start, here are my recommendations:

Plugins26 Best WordPress Plugins For Any Type of Website

Themes15 Best WordPress Themes to Build a Stunning Website

Free Tools13 Best Free WordPress Plugins to Build a Budget-Friendly Website

How to Make Your Local WordPress Site Live

The moment you’ve been working towards is almost here – launching your website and sharing it with the world! But here’s the beauty of offline development: you get to make this transition flawlessly, without worrying about publishing an unfinished product.

This is where Duplicator Pro comes in – your secret weapon for a smooth and stress-free launch. Duplicator Pro simplifies the process of migrating your locally-developed website to a live server. 

Duplicator Pro plugin

Here’s how it works.

Once you’re happy with your local website, use Duplicator Pro to create a full backup. It will compile all of your WordPress files, databases, and settings into a single file.

Duplicator custom package components

Next, download your backup.

Download website backup

At this point, you’ll need to find a hosting provider. Purchase a web hosting plan and a domain name. 

You should also create a new database and database user. 

Create MySQL database

Use your new website’s file manager (like cPanel) or FTP client (like FileZilla) to connect to your server. Upload both Duplicator files to the root directory.

Upload cloned site files

Launch the installer with this link: https://your-domain/installer.php

Duplicator will walk you step-by-step through the migration. You’ll need to enter your new database information and replace your old URLs, but Duplicator makes this super user-friendly.

Duplicator installer

Want to see Duplicator Pro in action? Here’s a full tutorial on moving a local site to a live server

FAQs About Building a WordPress Site Without Going Live

Can I build a WordPress site without hosting?

Absolutely! Local development allows you to build your website privately, separate from the live web. Hosting comes into play when you’re ready to launch your website and make it accessible to the public. Think of offline development as the planning and construction phase, while hosting is like buying a plot of land and setting up your finished house for everyone to see.

How do I redesign a WordPress site without hosting?

To redesign your WordPress site without hosting, set up your local server. Then, use Duplicator Pro to back up your live website. On the local site, install Duplicator and drag and drop your backup into the Import page.

Import website archive

You can now edit your website without worrying about live errors or downtime. This makes redesigning your website a safe and efficient process. Make all your website design changes offline, then use Duplicator to migrate the updated version back to your live server.

Can I build a WordPress site offline?

Yes, you can build your WordPress site entirely offline. With a local development environment, you can focus on creativity and functionality without distractions or the worry of breaking your live site.

How do I change my WordPress theme without going live?

You can change your WordPress theme by using Duplicator to migrate your live site to a local host. Try out different themes and refine your website’s look and feel offline. When you’re happy with the results, push the changes live.

Alternatively, put your live site in maintenance mode. With SeedProd, you can use a template to announce that you’re working on your website. 

Edit SeedProd maintenance template

Another option is to copy your website onto a subdomain or subdirectory on your server. Managed WordPress hosts like WP Engine, Bluehost, and SiteGround make this process easy. 


Building a website can be an exciting yet daunting experience. But with the power of offline development, you can unleash your creativity and build a website you’ll be proud of, all within a safe and secure environment.

By now, we hope you know how to build a WordPress site without going live!

While you’re here, I think you’ll like these extra WordPress guides:

Are you ready to make your website live? Download Duplicator Pro to back up your site and migrate it to a live server!

author avatar
Joella Dunn Content Writer
Joella is a writer with years of experience in WordPress. At Duplicator, she specializes in site maintenance — from basic backups to large-scale migrations. Her ultimate goal is to make sure your WordPress website is safe and ready for growth.

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