As a designer who loves to code, I’m often asked about my local WordPress development environment. I use several apps and frameworks, so I decided to break things down into a multi-part series to cover each one individually.

So I’ll go ahead and kick off this series with one of the most important pieces in the tech stack: Local by Flywheel.

What is Local by Flywheel?

Local by Flywheel is a local development application designed to simplify the workflow of WordPress designers and developers.

The free version comes with one-click WordPress installations, unlimited environments, and SSL out of the box—everything you need to get up and running in no time. Local also has a Pro plan for $20 per month, but unless you’re hosting with Flywheel (which I definitely recommend), you probably won’t need to upgrade.

So on that note, let’s have a closer look at some of my favorite features of the free version of Local.

Get started with WordPress development in seconds

Without a doubt, the ability to spin up a WordPress site in seconds is one of (if not) the best feature of Local.

I’ve used the app for years and knew it was fast, but I was curious just how fast—so I timed it. To my surprise, it only takes 43 seconds to go from zero to a fully-installed site. That’s pretty mind-blowing. Check out the video below:

Access to unlimited environments for WordPress development

The free version of Local comes with the ability to fire up as many WordPress environments as you need (including multisites).

Local by Flywheel - Unlimited environments

You also have complete control of each environment at the base level. You can hot-swap between NGINX or Apache, switch out PHP versions for testing, or even change the site URL without needing to update the database.

Another great feature of this WordPress development tool is the ability to share your local environment with clients. Local has a tool called “Live Link” which gives you a secure ngrok link that your client can use to check out the progress you’ve made.

Local by Flywheel - Live Link

And, if you’re thinking of upgrading to the Pro version of Local, a benefit is dedicated URLs and higher connection limits with Live Links Pro. So if you’re passing links to multiple people in a project, this might be worth the upgrade.

Sync to staging, deploy to production

Once you’ve finished your WordPress development locally, pushing your site to staging or production on Flywheel is a breeze. All you have to do is click the “Connect to Flywheel” button in the menu and sync your changes. Flywheel does the heavy lifting and the result is a seamless development experience.

The Pro version of Local also gives you link checkers, image optimizers, and live reload—all great tools to have before pushing your site out to the world.

Looking ahead

Local is a great app, but it’s just one of many that I use for local WordPress development. In the coming weeks, I’ll outline some of the other WordPress development tools that I use including Codekit, Visual Studio Code, Github, and more. Until then, hit me up if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!