Publishing your website online – knowing the basics
Below is a beginners guide to website publishing.
Read this and you will know enough to have an informed conversation with your website designer or any other provider of website services.
The tasks of getting your website on the internet.
- Get to know the basic terminologies. They are not difficult and this means you know what you are doing when ordering from the host provider.
- See the list below to know what a good host looks like.
- See the list below to know what details you need to tell the host provider when ordering.
Let’s dive in
To publish a website, the website must be installed on a server that connects to the internet. This server is owned, managed and maintained by a web host company. You pay a monthly or annual fee to the web host company to provide this service.
Servers are located all over the world and there are many host companies to choose from.
This section will explain how to find a good host.
But first let’s deal with some technical terms and what they mean. This will clarify your options and help you make the right decisions.
The basic technical terms of website hosting
The server is the hardware and accompanying software designed to store data (websites) and interact with the web network. You have a choice of three options.
1. Shared server
A shared server means your website is on a server that is shared with other websites. This keeps costs down. Many websites begin on shared servers.
2. VPS – Virtual Private Server
This is still a shared server but is divided into distinct sections. Your website is allocated a section. This allows greater control over your section compared to a Shared Server arrangement.
3. Dedicated server
A server that is dedicated to your website and no other. This option is more expensive than a shared service arrangement. Advantages include the flexibility to customise the server, enhanced performance and security.
If your site is generating a lot of traffic then the dedicated server may deliver increased stability. A unique IP address means you do not have to share it with another site that may compromise your search engine ranking; sharing the server with an adult site for example.
Which server arrangement is best for you
As a start-up company, it is likely best to start with a shared server. Most web host companies can respond quickly to an upgrade request should you require it.
For example, if your product launch or marketing campaign provokes incredible traffic and downloads, then simply contact you web host provider and they will assess your website performance data and make recommendations.
In other words, scale up your requirements in response to activity rather than overspend due to optimistic forecasting.
If you are not a start-up then you should already have data and experience available regarding current traffic and some indication of future traffic given your plans. Again, your web host provider will be able to provide recommendations given historical data and trends.
Bandwidth is the agreed maximum amount of upload and download data interaction with your website over a defined period of time – usually monthly. Interaction includes visits, downloads and emails which all create data transfer. Bandwidth is reset back to zero every month.
This is the amount of space on the server that is allocated to your website. This space will include folders, files, text, locally stored images and videos, emails and any other content or software that is defined as being part of your website.
This is the percentage time the server (and therefore your website) is operating and accessible on the internet. It is the inverse of downtime. Most should offer at least 99% uptime. If not then you are looking at the wrong host provider.
A copy of your website is made and stored somewhere else on a regular basis. If something goes wrong then the backup copy is retrieved and your website is restored. Backup is usually done at least on a daily basis.
It is also prudent to keep an up to date copy of your website on your local PC.
The practice by mischievous people attempting to penetrate your website to extract data or corrupt folders and files. Some simply want to bring the website down. The motive is usually criminal monetary gain or a perverse pleasure in whoever knows why. Sad but true.
Security Manifest is a summary and definition of the security measures taken for your website. It also contains a log of security actions, issues or breaches and counter measures with dates.
The Security Manifest records means that past events and experiences are not lost and forgotten; only for you to endure those events all over again.
Logging these events and counter measures means you are increasingly armed with knowledge to keep your website more secure.
Keeping a Security Manifest also demonstrates due diligence so if ever a data breach occurs then those affected can see you took all reasonable and expected measures to protect their information.
The Security Manifest is a file or files within a folder securely kept on your local PC.
A software process that inspects your website’s folders and files to ensure they are not corrupt, amended or have been added to beyond that of what is expected.
SSL or Secure Sockets Layer means there is an encrypted link between the server (your website) and the client (the visitor to your website). This provides a secure connection in an insecure environment (the internet). The SSL facility is equally useful for email connections.
SSL provides your site with the https:// at the beginning of your website address in the browser (e.g. Chrome) as in https://www.thisisyourwebsite.com rather than the usual standard http://.
Apart from the obvious advantage of security, SSL and therefore https is important because Google likes it and that means the potential for better SEO ranking.
What to look for in a good website host
A good host company will provide the following services:
- Ensure all equipment is kept in a secure and ambient specific environment.
- All servers are maintained and kept up-to-date.
- All server software (usually either Linux or Windows server software) is kept current in terms workable versions and updates (subject to their technical opinions).
- 24 hour 7 day support – live chat and telephone support.
- Quick response ticketing support (usually within a few hours).
- Adequate software security measures.
- Regular scans to confirm folders and files have not been compromised.
- Regular backups.
- Instant notification procedure in place to let you know if your website is down either because of a server issue or failed security scan.
- Server responsiveness.
What you need to provide to your host company
Questions to ask a potential web host provider. If these questions are answered on their website, then it is fine to order online.
- Confirm the broadband
- Confirm the server type: Shared – Virtual Private Server (VPS) – Dedicated Server.
- Confirm the price.
- Confirm storage.
The domain name is the letter address of your website. Example: www.runthecompany.com.
In fact, the actual address of your website is an IP (Internet Protocol) number but because humans are better at remembering and using names, then something called the DNS (Domain Name Systems) translates the letter address to the number IP address.
You have to source and rent the domain name (rent because you have to periodical pay for the right to keep using the name).
Finding a domain name
Finding a suitable domain name that will constructively contribute to your marketing efforts or even represent what your business is doing is already hard and becoming increasingly difficult.
This is due to the fact that many good and great names have already been claimed. What doesn’t help is the unsavoury practice of individuals registering potentially popular domain names with the hope of someone one day wanting it frantically enough to pay well over the odds for the name.
Protecting your domain name
Some host providers offer a domain protection plan which means that if you forget to renew the domain name or there is a problem with payment then the host will protect it from being lost.