How to Build Websites More Efficiently Using Flywheel Local
This tutorial was highly requested! I started doing our new Divi LIVE Quick Tips series and mentioned that I was using Local by Flywheel (by Flywheel Hosting) in the tutorial, and received lots of requests for a tutorial.
So here it is! In this tutorial I’m going to teach you what Local by Flywheel is, why you should use it, and of course, how to use it too.
What is Local by Flywheel?
Flywheel Local is the most popular Local Web Development tool for creating WordPress sites. It allows you to quickly ‘spin up’ a WordPress install without using a web host. It’s of course brought to us by the super awesome hosting company: Flywheel Hosting (which we highly recommend by the way).
It all happens from your LOCAL computer. Your computer essential acts as the web server, but without letting in inbound traffic from the internet (unless you want to allow someone to preview the site such as a client…but we’ll get to that).
How much does Local by Flywheel Cost?
Local by Flywheel is 100% free for the standard version. It allows you to create unlimited local websites. There is a premium version that can be viewed here, however that is not the focus of this tutorial, and most users will not need to upgrade to a paid plan.
Why Use Local by Flywheel (or any local development tool)?
Developing Locally Saves You Time
There’s a few reasons to develop locally, but the biggest reason is speed. Developing locally saves you a TON of time. Short answer: it’s faster to save to your local computer than it is to a web server in a different location.
When you are designing/building websites you’re typically doing a lot saving. Whether that is saving/publishing within WordPress pages/posts, Divi, Plugin Settings, FTP, etc, there’s a lot saving that is happening to your database or server files.
When you’re doing this the typical way to a normal web host, it takes a little bit of time for that save to perform. It travels across the internet to the physical location of your host to process that request and save your work. Depending on the speed of your server, physical location of the server, as well as your own internet connection (as well as other factors), this may take only a second or two, or maybe longer.
However, even if everything is as fast as possible, it still is going to take more time than if you were saving your work to your own local computer. And those seconds add up fast.
Additionally, have you ever wanted to test a new Divi feature or something else really quickly? Flywheel Local allows you to spin up a new WordPress install in seconds, seriously.
Developing Locally is More Secure & Private
Sometimes you want to create a new website without anyone else knowing that it exists. Maybe it’s not necessarily some super secret confidential subject matter, but you just want privacy. Developing locally gives you that privacy.
Even if you use a Coming Soon plugin to block traffic (sidenote: we have a free lightweight maintenance mode plugin for Divi), there’s still a risk that someone will know what you’re up to if you build on a web server; such as the many employees of the hosting company. I actually had a friend who was high up at a hosting company. But for his own side projects, he used a totally different hosting company because he didn’t want the people that he worked with/for knowing what he was working on for his side projects.
Developing Locally Can be Done without Internet
Have you ever had a long flight and wanted to work on a website project? I have, and after paying for the overpriced in-flight WiFi, I immediately regretted it. The very slow and unreliable internet made making updates to a website a very painful process.
Developing locally using Local by Flywheel allows you to create new websites without internet.
How to Create WordPress Websites Locally Using Local by Flywheel
Now we get to the fun part, actually using the product!
Step One: Download and Install Local by Flywheel
Go to LocalbyFlywheel.com and Click the Download Button, then install like you would any other app.
Step Two: Follow the Onscreen Prompts for New Site Creation
You’ll simply click the “Create a New Site” button (or the plus sign button in the bottom left) to start the new site creation. It’s SUPER simply and takes just a few seconds. You’ll give the site a name (click advanced options to customize the URL), set login credentials, and that’s it.
Note: I’m using Dark Mode on MacOS so your Local by Flywheel may look a bit different.
Once the site is created, you’ll see the below screen with the details. From there, you can click on the “Admin” or “View Site” buttons to go to either WP Admin, or your newly created websites homepage.
That’s it! Once your site is created, you can log in using the credentials you set and begin working locally and enjoying the speed benefits and privacy of your own local WP environment 😊
How to Speed Up Your Development Workflow with Local by Flywheel & Blueprints
So the whole point of this post is to show you how to create websites faster. Simply using Local by Flywheel will tremendously speed things up for you.
But you can take it one step further using the Blueprint feature that is built into Local by Flywheel.
Blueprints in Local are exactly what they sound like. They’re site templates that you can use as a starting point instead of starting with a blank WP install.
We all have things that we do on every single website that we build.
For example, here’s common tasks that most Divi users will do on every new website:
- install Divi
- add Divi API credentials
- set desired permalink structure
- set homepage as front page
- install Divi plugins
- install other common plugins (forms, backup, etc)
So by using a Blueprint that has all of the above tasks these already completed, and then creating all new sites for that Blueprint, you can save yourself some valuable time!
You can of course create multiple Blueprints allowing you to have templats for different types of sites you create frequently.
How to Create Blueprints in Flywheel Local
Step 0: First, create a new website (if you haven’t already) that you want to be your Blueprint and perform all of your common tasks. This will be the site that will be copied.
Step One: Right Click on the Site You would Like to Make a Blueprint of, and ‘Save as Blueprint’
Step Two: Give Your Blueprint a name (example New Site Template), then click ‘Save Blueprint’
Other Awesome Local by Flywheel Features
Creating Live Demo Links
Flywheel’s Local tool let’s you create live links that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. Some refer to this as “tunnel” since it’s connecting to your local machine.
This is SUPER useful for two reasons:
- You can show the sites to others, such as clients, team members, etc., without having to migrate the site to a live server.
- You can test your new site on mobile devices before it goes live on the server.
This is super easy to enable. Just click the “Enable” link next to “Live Link” at the bottom of the site setting screen. And boom, your site can now be accessed from anywhere in the world. It’s sort of like magic.
Pushing Your Site Live to Flywheel Hosting
Local by Flywheel is by Flywheel Hosting (duh!) so of course they’re going to make it super easy to integrate your local dev site and their super fast awesome hosting. It’s literally just a click away once you’ve logged into your Flywheel account.
You can push a new website built with Local to your Live Hosting account with Flywheel.
And, you can pull down a Live site into Local by Flywheel.
Since Flywheel is now owned by WP Engine, you’ll soon be able to deploy to WP Engine direcly from Local as well. Pretty slick!
There’s a lot of other (smaller) features in Local by Flywheel that can be found on the features page.
If you have any questions or future tutorial requests, please let me know in the comments!