I appreciate everyone's help here and figured I'd provide some context as to what makes the directions at http://codex.wordpress.org/Moving_WordPress#Moving_WordPress_to_a_New_Server confusing to someone new to WordPress concepts. I think with only a few updates to the documentation these instructions would be nearly fool-proof:
I'll highlight quotes in the documentation and detail why they are somewhat confusing:
1. "If you want to test before you switch, you must temporarily change "siteurl" and "home" in the database table "wp_options" (through phpMyAdmin or similar)."
For WordPress experts this is probably a simple and obvious reference, but for someone who is new to WordPress this reference isn't clear in context or direction. In the paragraph previous to this the introduction makes mention to two different scenarios for moving a WordPress site; one scenario is to move the WordPress installation "around within your server" and the other is to move your WordPress installation "from one server to another". The aforementioned reference then explains that if you want to test you must change a couple of values in table wp_options, but details neither what these values should be changed to nor the scenario to which this applies. Minimally, it should include to what the values those database columns need to be changed - am I supposed to change this to the intended url or some test url, and what's the purpose of the change? If this reference does not apply to both scenarios then it should be included as an in-line optional instruction on that instruction set only, as it is confusing where it is.
2. "If you want to move WordPress to your root directory, make sure all index.php, .htaccess, and other files that might be copied over are backed up and/or moved, and that the root directory is ready for the new WordPress files."
I'm dumb, and I was confused by the term "copied over", because it made me think I had to "copy" some files "over" from my root directory to some safe backup location. If this sentence replaced "copied over" with "overwritten" it would be much easier to understand for stupid people like me and some half-smart ones. Also, what does it mean for the root directory to be "ready for the new WordPress files"? Should I be doing something to ensure the root directory is ready? For instance, should I be changing permissions on folders or creating a user, or should I just give it a pep talk? I apologize for facetiousness - I'm just trying to make the point that I don't know what that reference means.
3. "Move your WordPress core files to the new location. This includes the files found within the original directory, such as http://example.com/wordpress, and all the sub-directories, to the new location."
"http://example.com/wordpress" is not a directory, but a URL. This would really be helpful to include an actual directory reference, even if it's relative. For instance, "[ORIGINAL_WORDPRESS_LOCATION]/wordpress/"
4. "If you are using Permalinks, go to the Administration > Settings > Permalinks panel and update your Permalink structure to your .htaccess file, which should be in the same directory as the main index.php file."
Would read better as: "If you are using Permalinks, go to the Dashboard > Settings > General panel and update your Permalink structure to point to the new location of your .htaccess file, which should be in the same directory as the main index.php file, for example - [NEW_WORDPRESS_LOCATION]/wordpress/.htaccess."
5. "You must also check and edit 'store uploads folder' under Settings-Miscellaneous or all your new uploads will continue to go into the old folder."
Would read better as: "You must also modify the 'Store uploads in this folder' directory reference under Dashboard > Settings > Miscellaneous or all your new uploads will continue to go into the old folder."
6. "Existing image/media links uploaded media will refer to the old folder and must be updated with the new location."
This is probably a reference to a previous version of WordPress than the version I am using because no such reference exist, but if they did they'd be accessible from Dashboard > Settings > Media.
7. "It is important that you set the URI locations BEFORE you move the files."
If this is important then it should not be listed as an afterthought in these instructions, but should be enumerated in as an explict, numbered instruction. that occurs prior to directions to move files...
8. "and then follow the steps above as normal. Afterwards delete the symlink if you want."
Follow the directions from what point?
9. "Note: If you are changing to a new server but same domain, all you need to do is edit wp-config.php and upload everything as it is to your new server."
It would be helpful to detail the relative path to the wp-config.php file - I realize I'm the only person who works with WordPress and doesn't know this.
10. "Download a copy of the main wordpress files from your OLD blog to your hard drive and edit wp-config.php to suit the new server."
It would be really helpful if I new specific values I should be changing to minimally get this website to work. I'm positive I'd figure it out, but I could have also figured out how to migrate a WordPress site without any instructions at all, it'd have just been harder...
11. "Go back to your OLD blog and go to options and change the url (both of them) to that of your new site."
There is no options page - this should detail the location to modify these settings at "Dashboard > General > Settings". Also, as previously vetted by posters, if this option is only applicable for those who are also using a different domain then this instruction should explicitly say that. Those using the same URL should be instructed to skip this step.
12. "Again, download your database (but keep the old one just in case), upload this new database and the copy of the wordpress core files with the edited wp-config.php to your new server. Thats it!"
If I don't need to download the database twice then I shouldn't be instructed to do so.
Those modifications would probably make it easier for dumb people like me to easily understand this write-up - after all, if not for them, then for who are instructions written?