Video Tutorial – The easiest way to build a new WordPress site while the old site is live

Beginners Guide to building a WooCommerce Storefront Website from start to finish

There are quite a few ways to build build a new WordPress website while the old site is live, but this is the easiest non-technical way to do it.

Original I wrote this post in 2014 and it’s still my preferred method today.


Step 1: Install a new WordPress website

Install a new WordPress website. For this method don’t install in a sub-directory of the existing website. Just create a completely new website!

Step 2: Re-point your domain name

In this step you need to repoint your domain name to the correct server IP address. Once you’ve done this you need to wait for the domain name to work i.e the new website will start showing for the domain name. Once this has happened then move to step 3.

Step 3: Change your WordPress website to have the correct domain name (i.e not the temporary domain name)

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57 thoughts on “Video Tutorial – The easiest way to build a new WordPress site while the old site is live”

      1. Hi, Very good tutorial but I’m a bit of a noob with web design. Basically we have just launced our site and it’s okay but I need the best. As such I’m already planning V2.0. WIth 1&1 ionis there is a second domain showing that currenlty links to the same site. Is it this domain I would use ?

  1. This is great Jamie!
    I do all of my hosting and domain registration on Godaddy (for no specific reason).
    I unsuccessfully tried following your steps. I couldn’t find where to “use a domain reference”.
    Any chance you showing this process on GoDaddy?
    Or, should I consider changing my hosting company?
    Le me know what you think.

    1. Jamie Marsland

      Hi Bert,

      Thanks for the feedback – Godaddy are pretty good so I’m sure they have this feature. In the first instance I would just send them a quick support email and ask the question. Let me know how you go 🙂


    2. Hey Bert! I am about to attempt this process with GoDaddy. Any chance you were able to figure it out? What are the necessary steps for doing so?

  2. Hi Jamie,

    Those are the clearest instructions I’ve seen for ages – THANK YOU! I’ll definitely be subscribing to your updates.

    One question for you; do your instructions change if I am building the new site on a different host than where the old site is currently being hosted? (You can tell I’m a newbie at this!)


    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for the feedback 🙂

      Nope my instructions are the same if it’s a different hosting company,

      Good luck,

  3. Hi Jamie,

    I haven’t dare to try and change our theme for the last few years as I presumed it would be to complicated, if as you suggest it is this easy I’ll get right to it.

    Our host is 1&1 and our domain is registered there also, so I guess this will be a breeze.

    Many thanks for your vids.


  4. Hi Jamie,
    I wonder if 1&1 are complicating things or just suggesting a different way of doing this.
    They suggest I setting up and building the new site on a sub domain

    After they say:
    Once the new website is ready you can just assign the new website with the domain that you wanted to assign on it.

    My concern, if I set up a sub domain and build a WP site, when I move it wont all the image paths etc break?

    Thanks, Pete

  5. HI Jamie,
    I’m with I already have a live website that’s been going for years….so if I want to build a new site in the background and to be able to follow your steps should I add a domain alias or add a subdomain?

    Thanks for the help

    1. Jamie Marsland

      Hi Jess,

      Create another wordpress installation and then use a domain name reference with that,

      Check with your hosting company that they offer this,


  6. Hiya,

    Awesome videos – thank you for your instruction!

    I just wanted to clarify – I have an existing WordPress site/theme installed on the legit URL. The new site (on the temporary URL/subdomain) is now complete and ready to launch…

    Will connecting it to the legit domain (as you outline in Step 3) erase/overwrite all the existing site information/settings? i.e. what happens to the “dashboard” and all it’s media that’s been existing all this time?

  7. Hi Jamie!

    I am looking into freshening up my website to give it a more modern look. I want to keep the older site running while I create a completely new one.

    I found your videos while looking for a way to do this.

    This method looks promising.

    I’m not sure I’ve understood the ‘why’ behind the step of adding a hosting account and using a domain reference. I get the impression that you didn’t already have the domain activated and needed to do so for the purposes of the demo.

    If we have an existing domain active, do we skip that step?

    One fear I’ve had about installing a new instance of WP in the same domain root is having a conflict with existing files. I think you’ve made it clear why we cannot choose the existing URL or we will replace what we already have.

    In your case, you have been given the option of installing in what looks like a new subdomain. If we’re not given that option, what should we do, create one ourselves?

    HostGator don’t give me the option of pointing to a server. They give me the option of creating a new install path.

    If you’re able to suggest an install path, I try it and continue with the rest of the steps in your video. Unfortunately, it’s doesn’t look as easy as yours due to the lack of a server number.


  8. Thank you so much for this video. These are the clearest instructions I’ve come across, and I’ve done a lots of research. You’ve given me to confidence to change me theme – yay! Thanks again 🙂

  9. Hi Jamie,

    I am a total newbie but have had a client request to upgrade an existing site.

    My question is, will I be able to do it if I don’t have a hosting platform. Would I be able to do the above all within WordPress? The client is essentially family, so I am not concerned about having the files available to them before contract has finished.

    Thanking you in advance.

  10. Hi Jamie,

    Total newbie here. Trying this method out but my hosting panel isn’t giving me the option of a temporary url. Will it work if I put the hoster’s IP address in manually?

    Thanks heaps

  11. I should have mentioned, I have now set up hosting, however the provider is not giving me an option of a temporary url automatically, as in your video. If I enter it manually with their IP address will it work?

  12. Hello,

    Would you still count this information as vaild in 2016? Also, when you use this method, will the internal links also change when you go through this process?


  13. What if I want to change the hosting server? I would like to build the updated version on a new server and once it’s ready, deactivate the old version on old server and make the updated version life on the new server, (also moving the domain to the new server as I wouldn’t like to have my database on one server and domain on another if it makes sense). What happens with the server address that I temporarily put as part of web address??? A bit confused…

  14. Mark Etherington


    If I want to use the existing database, plugins and some content is this possible? Some plugins are paid for so don’t want to purchase them again and the existing website has products within woocommerce that I need to keep.


  15. Hi Jamie

    I am a newbie, but medium user for WordPress. I am going to make a entire update and makeover of a website. In step one, I am not sure if you already have a wordpress installation running at I am nervous about installing an other wordpress installation as you shows, I don’t understand why you aren’t overwriting the existing wordpress running at To me it seems like you are installing a wordpress installation on a new domain.

  16. Hi Jamie,

    This is all completely new to me and I’m really confused…is this for Also, the website I’m trying to redesign is hosted by Cpanel and I can’t see any options to add hosting accounts etc etc. Please help, I’m totally lost.

    Thank you

  17. Hi Jamie,

    I created a website whilst my old one was still running but when I come to re point the site both ip address for the new and old site are the same? any ideas what i did wrong



  18. Hi Jamie,
    Great site with lots of tips….

    I just have a few queries which you can hopefully help me with before I try this as I don’t want to mess anything up.
    I have a LIVE WordPress site which is currently hosted with company A. The domain name was purchased at namecheap and is pointed to company A’s servers. I now want to work on a new WP theme and on my new hosting (Hostgator). Will your method still work Jamie? I can’t seem to find anywhere on my Cpanel that says Domain Reference or should I be looking on the Namecheap dashboard although my neither of my hosting packages are with Namecheap…?
    (I can easily set-up an addon domain in my new Hostgator account but there’s a message there specifically saying that it won’t work unless the domain is pointed there).
    Could you please advise?
    (I also have the added issue of an SSL certificate which I wanted to install on the new site. Of course it’s connected to the domain though so I guess I’m not going to be able to install it whilst using this method… and will have to wait until my new site is is Live/Active and then go through the hassle of changing all links??? I really wanted to install the SSL first…)
    Whatever you suggest that works, I will try Jamie. All advice appreciated.
    Kind regards,

    1. Hi John,

      Ask your hosting company if they can provide a temporary domain name – this is like a domain name reference 🙂

      SSL shouldn’t effect the links so you can add this after or before ,

      kind regards

  19. Hi, just trying to do exactly this. Is there a method you know of without having access to the hosting company?
    many thanks


  20. Hi Jamie,
    Get vids thanks.
    My client cannot remember who she bought her domain name from. If I just swap it over to say reg123, will this mess up her current site?

    Many thanks.

  21. Hi Jamie,
    My client cant remember what company she bought her domain name from, so this makes step 2 a bit tricky.. any advice?

    Many thanks,

  22. Hi Jamie, I have just followed your tutorial which was great, thank you. Just one question, do I have to change the A records or is changing the Nameserves to WordPress Nameserves sufficient?

    Thanks for your help.

    1. Jamie Marsland

      Hi Helen,

      Well both are ok – remember you are not changing them to WordPress nameservers, but to your hosting companies. i.e where you website is being hosted.


  23. Hi Jamie,
    Me again! I’m nearly there I think!

    When I try and install WordPress, it comes up with error message “There was a problem installing the requested script. Please make sure that the directory you are installing to is empty.”

    I’ve checked through your vid and I cant see what I am doing wrong.
    Any thoughts for me.

    Thanks in advance,

  24. Hi Jamie – Really great tutorial. Quick question, I don’t have a reseller account with Heart Internet so I can’t ‘add a new hosting account’, therefore can’t work out how to point the domain name to a new server with the IP address. Is there a way to add a second WordPress installation to the same live account whilst still keeping it hidden?



  25. Hi there, I also use heart internet and when I try and install wordpress it comes up with this error message: “There was a problem installing the requested script. Please make sure that the directory you are installing to is empty.” I’m not sure what I can do to change this, there is a live website on the domain.

    1. Hi Verity,

      You need to get a new hosting package – so you are not installing wordpress on your current package with heart internet,


  26. Hi Jamie,

    Great tutorial, I haven’t tried it yet but it seems really easy. Just wondering, as the tutorial was done in 2014, has anything changed since?


  27. Thank you for sharing useful knowlegde!
    1. Can we similar to these videos also build an e-commerce website via woocommerce via themes and when it is working, we can plot everything to our existing website?
    2. How do we know that the new website will fit into our exisiting website? I mean the storage GB?

    1. Hi Faiza, about your 2nd question. Your hosting company will already have a max website file size in GB allocated to your domain name/account with them. Just double check what this is with your hosting company and then compare it with the file size of your new website in WordPress. If your new website is too large, you can normally buy extra hosting from your provider.

  28. Hi Jamie,
    I am helping my friends create a new responsive version of their existing site on WP. Their current WP site is 10 years old and hosted by a small local hosting company.

    My recommendation would to move it to WP hosting. If I am following you, WP should should be able to provide a temporary URL while the new site is being built out then we can update the domain DNS settings as you outline.

    I am I missing anything? We are all techincal novices so we really appreaciate your guidance! THX from Napa CA! 🙂

    1. Hi Kathleen

      That’s almost correct but don’t used for hosting.

      Go to a hosting company like goddaddy or siteground or wpengine.

      My recommendation is to use self hosted not 🙂

      It will save you lots of money and give you greater control


    1. Hi Jamie,
      Happy to find your post still active in 2020! I just built a site on a separate domain and was searching for help on the best way to go live as I’ve never used this approach before.
      In my case, the hosting package includes unlimited websites. The new site was built on a separate domain in the same account, not on a temporary URL as in your example (no IP prefix). So, the existing site is on and the new site is on
      After the DNS records for have been updated to point to
      1. Do the permalinks also have to be updated in addition to the URLs on the Settings/General tab?
      2. Does the database need to be checked for any references to
      Hoping you’ll see my question even though we’re at the end of 2020.
      Many thanks,

  29. If you’re building the new site with a different hosting company, then when you’ve finished building the new WordPress website there (using the ‘temporary’ or ‘shared’ URL), can’t you just change the nameserver addresses at your domain registrar to those of the new hosting company?

    Then just change the temporary URL in the WordPress dashboard to the real domain name.

    So, once the new nameserver addresses are propagated, your domain’s website will just appear as the newly-built WordPress site?

  30. Hi Jamie, Tanks for this easy explanation. Does this also work for wordpress with woocommerce websites. I read that the databases will com into conflict, But honestly I cannot see why, My website is a mess of conflicts. I want ot use the pages, but start all over with new translator and other plugins
    Cheers and thanks again

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