How to Build WordPress Websites Offline With Local Lightning

This guide shows you how to build and design WordPress websites on your local workstation.

There are a number of benefits to building offline, such as not having to pay for additional hosting, keeping your staging environment as a true clone of production, or maybe you just want to work from the beach.

Local by Flywheel History

The Local by Flywheel solution has been around for a number of years now and while the premise of it was pretty darn amazing, I found it to not work all that well, whether it was virtualization issues on local workstations or just general slowness.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve tried Local by Flywheel, only to uninstall it and hope the next version would be the golden ticket. That never came.

It appears the Flywheel team has listened to its customers and has shaken things up for the good. Enter…Local “Lightning”!

Local "Lighting"

Local “Lighting” is the latest iteration from the Flywheel team, which is a vast improvement to their older, “Local by Flywheel” product.

how to build mylisting websites offline with local lightning features

Local "Lighting" Setup

Workstation Install

  1. Visit the Local by Flywheel website and click on the banner at the top.
  2. Choose the operating system that matches your local workstation. (Note: You do not have to enter valid info in the form and the phone number is not needed.).
  3. Click Get It Now! to start the download.
  4. Launch the downloaded installer, accept the default options, and click Finish to complete the install. (Note: You may see a dialog box asking for permission to send back errors to the Flywheel team. I recommend not doing that automatically.).

Local "Lighting" Settings (Optional)

  1. From the opening screen of Local, click on the hamburger menu in the upper left.
  2. Choose Preferences.
  3. New Site Defaults > Environment: Choose Custom.
  4. New Site Defaults > Site Path: Click Browse, to optionally choose where on your workstation you would like to run the site installs. (Note: The default location on Windows workstations is the Documents folder. ). -OR-
  5. Create a new folder on your workstation, name it something like “Local Websites”, and point the default site path to this location. (Note: I create and use the following path: C:\Users\my_username\Local Websites).
  6. Click Apply and close the Preferences window.

First Site Setup

  1. Click Create A New Website, give it a name, and click Continue.
  2. Choose Custom.
  3. For the PHP version, choose the latest version available. (Note: Most quality hosting vendors provide the latest version of PHP, so also choosing that here is ideal, just in case you ever port the local website to your actual web host.).
  4. For the Database option, I recommend choosing the latest version of MariaDB(Note: Most quality hosting vendors provide the latest version of MariaDB.).
  5. Click Continue.
  6. Add your desired WordPress credentials. (Note: There is no need to adjust the email address at this point.).
  7. Click Add Site.
  8. For any firewall-related popups that appear, grant access in order to allow all components of Local to run.
  9. Your site should be running and automatically selected at this point, so click on the Admin button in the upper right.
  10. To log in, enter the same credentials you put in during the setup of this site.

Congrats! Your first site should now be up and running with a fresh, super clean install of WordPress. Have fun and build a great WordPress website!

How to Provide Online Access

Local allows you to easily share your local builds with your team, with vendor support, or even with your client, creating a unique URL each time you turn on Live Link.

  1. Select the site you would like to share and go to the Overview tab.
  2. At the bottom of the screen, next to Live Link, click the Enable button.
  3. Now, next to Live Link, your share link will be displayed.
how to build mylisting websites offline with local lightning live link
  1. Click on the Live Link to bring up your site, grab the URL, and send it to whomever. (Note: At this time, there is no way to copy the URL right from the Local dashboard, but that would be a cool addition.).

Once you disable a Live Link, that URL is no longer available online, as the “tunnel” between your workstation and the internet is severed.

This saves you the back and forth of migrating files from local to staging and vice versa.

Transfer an Online Site to Local

Let’s say you’ve purchased web hosting and you’ve started building your WordPress website, but your situation has changed for whatever reason.

In short, maybe you need to put your project on hold, while not incurring the costs of ongoing hosting.

  1. Log into your online site.
  2. Install and activate the All-in-One WP Migration plugin.
  3. All-in-One WP Migration > Export.
  4. Export To > File.
  5. Once your export file is ready, click the download button.
  6. Log into your Local site. 
  7. Install and activate the All-in-One WP Migration plugin.
  8. All-in-One WP Migration > Import.
  9. Import From > File.
  10. Choose your downloaded export file.
  11. Click Proceed to complete the import process.
  12. Click Finish and refresh your browser.