I am a photographer and want to build a site for a specific part of the photography market. I have not yet decided on the domain name, but would like to start building the site (as I know what content I want on it).

Can I build a site before deciding on a domain name for that site? And if so, where can store this site, if not on the net at its (yet unchosen) domain.

I realise that ideally I would just choose a domain and get building, but choosing the right domain is taking some time so I want to start building so I can be ready to go once I have settled on the domain.

I have a web host who has Fantastico WP installer.

Thanks, Cormac

3 Answers 3


The idea of starting with a temporary domain or working on local hosting using XAMPP are good. Both assume some knowledge of setting up a hosting environment. The easier approach of the two is to work through your hosting provider who at least will be able to provide a turn-key solution and will help you to move the site once you find the domain.

Bear in mind that moving the site from the domain to the final domain (once you have purchased the name) is not trivial. In particular, you will need to move the core files to the hosting directory for the domain and then will need to search and replace all instances of the old (temporary) domain name with the new (chosen) domain in the pages of the site. There are Wordpress Plugins to help with this.

When designing and developing the site, there are a number of considerations apart from the domain name. The article '21 Things to be aware of when setting up a new website' is worth looking at in this regard.

I hope that this response is useful to you and wish you well in your venture.


Well depending on your hosting provider you may have access to use a sub-domain such as yourname.yourhost.com alternatively some hosts will allow you to use the shared IP address with your server account name similar to

Switching to using a domain name later is not a massive pain in the bum however if you have little or no experience in website administration you may need some hand holding.

I would submit a ticket to your hosting provider and gauge how much assistance you can get from them regarding the temporary domain (sub domain or ip address) and then switching to a "real" domain later.

To answer you original question, yes you can set-up the site now and buy a domain later. The biggest variable is how easy it is going to be.

  • Hi FrontEndJohn, Thanks for your response! My hosting provider came to the party and am able to set up a test site to build around then transfer to a proper domain once its complete and ive decided on a name! Any good tips on WP themes for photographers welcome! Cheers/
    – cormac
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 8:32
  • For inspiration and purchase of WP Themes I use Theme Forrest but there are plenty of places offering free themes, keep an eye on the regular web design blogs such as Smashing Magazine, Web Designer Depot etc. Glad you are getting it all sorted :) Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 8:34

Ok, its kind of obvious that you just want to get the ball rolling. Test out a theme, some plugins etc. Basically, see what you can put together for your site before even launching it to the www.

So, why not try building it locally (Using Localhost)? Using MAMP (MAC) or XAMP(WIN). Being a web-dev this is what I do with all my client's sites who aren't yet sure on the domain name they want to use.

I personally work with MAMP PRO, but if you are a MAC user (like most photographers I know) MAMP will work just fine.

And, once you have the basic framework ready, a domain name, hosting, you can just upload the site on your server, upload the database & just add in your nameservers to your domain reg.

Get cPanel and all that I said above will turn out to be much easier than it sounds right now.

There are tons of tutorials online as well, I can point you to one if needed.

  • Hi BigSlick87, thanks for your response. You're right, I just want to get cracking on it while the right name comes to mind.
    – cormac
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 8:26
  • oops, hit enter accidently...as was saying..just looking to get things moving and found out from my host that I can set up a test site on the back of my current domain. So I can build the site on the test site and then move it to a proper domain. So far so good. If you have some recommendations on which tutorials to what then that would be great. There's a lot out there so any help cutting through to the best is much appreciate. Thanks.
    – cormac
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 8:30
  • Good to know. Does your host provide a cpanel where you can install wordpress directly?? There are several other options available but WP might be your best bet...
    – BigSlick87
    Commented Aug 21, 2012 at 10:20

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