I used to design WordPress themes “the hard way”- creating them on my computer as regular sites, converting them to WordPress template files, and uploading these via FTP. Then it was usually fingers crossed as I went into the Appearance tab of WordPress, activating it and hoping everything went well.
Then I learned how to install WordPress locally (on my computer), and wow. The only thing I wondered was why I didn’t do it sooner.
Setting WordPress up on your computer is a breeze: simply create a database in phpMyAdmin (which you get to through MAMP or XAMPP), extract WordPress to the appropriate folder (usually htdocs), configure wp-config.php, and go. Just make sure you’re running Apache and MySQL.
Testing a WordPress theme you’ve designed locally makes life so much easier. Not only are you able to make changes in real-time, you do it all behind the scenes- privately, where a chance visitor won’t have a chance to see the new design until it’s good and ready.
Of course, once you’ve got MAMP or XAMPP, you can do this with any php script of your choice- no more uploading and replacing files on FTP over and over again.