Understanding Web Sites

I haven’t a clue about setting up a web site. How does it all work?

I’ll do the patronising bit first. Always nice to get that out of the way. Don’t worry about not understanding how all this stuff works; odds are I don’t have much of a clue how your business works. Part of a web designer’s job is to teach the client just enough so they can make high quality business decisions about what they need from their web site. So, here are the basics.

First thing you’ll need is a domain name (e.g. mycompany.com or unicornsaddlesrus.net). This allows people to find your web site by entering www.mycompany.com into their web browser. It also allows them to send email to you using an email address like sales@mycompany.com. I’ll work with you to find a domain name that’s available and appropriate to your business. Once we’ve found the right one I’ll purchase it on your behalf. I’ll usually be the administrative contact for any queries about it but I’ll always set you up as the owner as you need to have legal ownership of it to make sure I can’t ever ruin your internet business. The up-front purchase price of the domain is included in the web site packages I provide. There are also ongoing fees associated with owning a domain which I roll into my standard site admin package to keep the administration simple for you.

Next up is finding some web hosting. Essentially this amounts to some space on a computer somewhere on the internet. That’s where your web site will live. These machines live in large, physically secure data centres with sophisticated backup processes, fast and reliable internet connections so your customers can access your web site quickly, and all sorts of power supply backups and the like. I currently use a UK company called Zen who have excellent customer service and good hosting packages. Again, there are ongoing fees for this hosting service which are rolled into my site admin package.

You’ll also probably want some email hosting; essentially a set of mailboxes where your email lives until you decide to collect it using your email client software (e.g. Outlook or Thunderbird) onto your PC or mobile phone. This is usually hosted on the same machine as your web site with the same hosting company. The fees for this are also included in my site admin package.

That’s the basics of how web site hosting works and pretty much the limit of the technical stuff you’ll need to know unless you’re interested in running a blog or eCommerce site.

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