Website 101

I’ve given this “lesson” many times over the years, so it’s high time I post it here so it’s preserved and readily available. This begins with “the 3 things you need to have for a website” and then takes each of those a couple of steps further.

The Basics: 3 things you need for website:

  1. Domain name: These tend to cost around $15/year, plus/minus a buck or two. If you want to go the totally free route, then several online web hosting companies offer you free websites with free subdomains. A subdomain is a domain “under” a domain, and appears as a word before the main domain, such as mycoolwebsite.weebly.com or mycoolwebsite. wordpress.com. That’s ok, but not very professional looking — and I’m surprised sometimes to run across a business website that appears quite professional, clearly wants to look professional, yet uses a free subdomain web hosting solution, instead of spending a few $$$ a month to have a “real” domain — that is, an actual domain registered to them, rather than just a subdomain.
  2. Web Hosting account: This is whoever you’re paying to host your website. If you’re paying more than $7 – $10/month, you’re paying more than you need to be… If you’re unhappy with who you’re paying now, we can talk about this… Most hosting companies —all the biggies— are about the same on basic tech stuff, all that “99.9% uptime” talk… so in my opinion the one thing that is so important and separates the good from the great, is this: Do they have 24/7/365 toll-free phone support and also 24/7/365 online chat support, and are they both US-based in-house (rather than being transferred to Bangalor or Saigon or wherever, after hours)? I use HostMonster and BlueHost; they’re in Utah— and in fact I think these two companies are actually the same company, and they each offer that level of support, all in-house (i.e. people who work for them, not 3rd party out-sourced support), and they have always been great, never not solved any issue quickly… and they’re very reasonably priced…
  3. Content: The actual words, images, videos, etc. that comprise the content of your website. This of course is the “biggie” that will take most of your time…

Next: Websites these days must be “responsive” i.e. “mobile ready”

  • Your current site was probably built years ago, and while mobile browsers know how to handle any website ok, you may have looked at your site on a smart phone and realized how much better it could/should look…
  • There are 2 basic ways to build a website: static or dynamic:
    • Static means each page and the whole site is built basically by hand, and changes likewise are all done “manually”… (There are of course lots of software tools, but the idea is the same.)
    • Dynamic means you’re using a “content management system” (CMS) and most CMS use a database on the backend, and then code to assemble pages from the database. PHP-MySQL is by far the predominant technologies used… All decent CMS tools now include mobile-ready responsive design options, plus they tend to be much easier to update and maintain by regular non-geek people, like restauranteurs, artists, small business people… I highly recommend going that way. (See www.agoramediaservices.com/cms-or-not/ for more on this.)

Go WordPress:

  • WordPress (WP) is the world’s #1 most popular CMS, by orders of magnitude over everything else. Like most of the other top CMS tools, it’s free open source software, maintained by a veritable army of geeks who love to code —and fix and improve code… Check out www.wordpress.org to learn more; check out www.wordpress.com to see more of what they give away free to the world, as well as a bit of how they support themselves to do so…
  • Check out my portfolio at www.agoramediaservices.com/web-portfolio/ to see some of the sites I’ve built and/or rebuilt; some I still maintain, others are in the hands of their owners… See www.agoramediaservices.com/category/wordpress/ for my blog posts about WP; haven’t posted anything in a while… See wordpress.org/showcase/ to see some amazing examples of what can be done with WP…

 

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