I can’t stress more strongly the need for testing of a new or updated website before it goes live. This is true with WordPress or any other method of setting up a website. The problem I hear the most in regard to this though is most people don’t know how to set up a non-live (as in not visible on the internet and open to anyone going to it) version of their site to do the testing, usually on their own PC. Well, Mac users really have no excuse, since being based on Linux it has a web server built into the regular OS, all you need to do is go to your preferences area and enable it (I won’t bother explaining how to do this, there are millions of google sites that will do that for you).
For Windows users it has traditionally been a whole lot harder. Windows doesn’t really have any support for doing web server services built into it–and in most cases actively makes it hard to get this working. It’s also not really a great idea (in my opinion) to utilize the Windows server system of web services (known as IIS) even if you could since they are really not that great–and most of the world still uses Linux style web services (known as Apache).
So what are Windows users able to use? Luckily a group of people realized this lack and built their own pseudo-Linux style web services install for Windows called XAMPP. The group is called the Apache Friends and they actually have set ups for pretty much every platform also. On Windows the web server package is a simple .exe file that you download and install. At first it might seem a little daunting, but it’s really pretty easy once you get it installed. Instead of going to a “real” web page in your web browser, you instead go to “localhost”, with everything else a branch off of that (so it’s like localhost/mywebsite/). Read their setup instructions and you should be able to figure out where to put your wordpress files.
For the novice the best usage of this environment is to tweak your WordPress themes or try out plugins. Once you finish with these files you can simply copy them to your live web server.