Here at Cockatoo Web Design, we want to cater for all levels of computer skills. So we made a list of web hosting lingo that you may have heard around but weren't quite sure what they were.
The place where your website lives. Every website on the internet is hosted from a computer somewhere. Most of them are done on 3rd party rented servers. Web hosting itself is a large business and there are many different web hosting businesses on the web for you to choose from. Including right here!
If you have been looking for a way of getting your business online, odds are on that you've seen the letters CMS pop up somewhere. CMS stands for content management system. A CMS is a program that manages all the work that is done behind the scenes on a website. As a website owner, all you need to know is that a CMS simplifies the process of putting content onto your website. Sometimes to the point of being able to do it yourself without the help of your developer. This is done through logging into your CMS after handover (see below for details on handover).
In general the website building process goes through stages of development until the completion of the site. Then either one of two things happen (or a combination of both):
- You set up a contract with the developer for the maintenance of your site's content.
- The developer hands over login details to the website and you manage it yourself. This is referred to as handover and usually happens after launch.
Handover is similar to having the keys handed over to you when you buy a house. It is in your hands now and there is potential for you to 'break' your website. If this occurs then you may need to pay for your developer to fix anything that you break. This does not mean that the developer is off the hook though. The developer should still be responsible for fixing any underlying issues that pop up later (testing doesnt always catch everything).
Your domain or domain name is the name of your website that everyone sees (www.yourwebsite.com.au). Web hosts have an IP address that you use to access the website (e.g. 126.96.36.199) but remembering the ip address for each website would be a massive pain (you actually don't need a domain to host a website but you would be crazy not to have one) so domains were created to simplify this. Domains are purchased from domain providers and come with an annual or by-annual cost depending on the name ($15-$25 usually).
Be aware that some domains come with restrictions. For instance .com.au requires an ABN to register and you should always register it yourself. If your developer registers it for you under his ABN then technically he owns it and that is not a road you want to go down.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation and simply put it is the art of getting your website to be found on google. It is about increasing your rankings (how close you are to the front on google when someone searches for a particular word or phrase) on particular keywords (the words your clients are searching for when they open google) that your business wants to target.
SEO is a service that companies offer to help you with it but there are 2 distinct types of SEO:
- On-page SEO: This is optimising your site itself to make it look appealing to google. This should be done by your developer but your developer may not be doing anything at all for this. Odds are on that if you haven't had the conversation with them then nothing is being done on your website for SEO
- Off-page SEO: This is the big time consumer and most developers will not be doing this at all. This is because it is nothing to do with your website directly. However it effects google rankings massively. Off-page SEO is all about developing high quality backlinks (links from other websites that go back to your site). This is done through blogging on relevant industry blogs to your business, social media, or just plain asking other businesses to add a link to your site onto their website.
Simply put, if a website is responsive then it responds to the size of the screen it is being displayed on. i.e. if it is being loaded onto a mobile device, then it will change to make itself aesthetic and readable on the smaller screen.
Anybody who has been using the internet for 5-10 years on their phones will have experienced a website that was a real pain to use on your mobile so you would wait until you got home to use your computer. These days due to new technologies, mobile responsiveness is commonplace and not having a responsive site will not only hurt your customers experience but also hurt your google rankings as well!
How much will a website cost?
Developers usually shy away from giving an estimate about how much a website will cost without having a meeting with the client about what the client's website needs to do. So first you need to ask yourself: What do I want on my website?
- Do I want an online shop / catalogue?
- How many pages are going to be on my website?
- Do I want any special features on my site? (A google map to search locations, subscription forms, integration with other software etc.)
- How much interaction do I want to have with the backend of my website?
- How flexible are you with how you want your website to look?
It may come as a surprise to you but the biggest factor for most businesses is going to be how flexible you are because it is this that determines which of the four types of website categories your website is going to fall into:
- A Template Website: approx. $200-$400 - A basic website based purely on a template with your content thrown in can still look great. Templates can however be rather restrictive and if you have a certain design in mind then you may need to go up to number 2.
- A Custom Template: approx. $500-$1000 - For the user that wants that bit extra for customisation. A custom template can be developed exactly to your liking and look great while still maintaining the CMS in the backend doing all the hard work.
- From Scratch: $5000+ - For when the features that you want are so unique that the only professional option is to throw CMS out the window and build the website from scratch. This option is used so rarely these days due to CMS titans like wordpress having addons for any kind of features that you could possibly imagine.
What ongoing costs will I incur from running a website
There are a few things that you will need to pay to keep your website up and running but the costs are usually very small depending on the platform that you choose:
- The platform yearly or monthly cost: Some platforms like Business Catalyst charge a monthly/annual fee. Some like WordPress are completely free. Usually the charged platforms (like Business catalyst) actually double up as your hosting so you won't have to pay that as well
- Hosting your website: Shared website hosting can cost anything from $5/month to $150 / month depending on your requirements. Most small businesses will only be looking at paying $10-$20 per month for their web hosting
- Domain Name: You will need to pay for your website's name. This fee is charged either every year or every 2 years and is about $15-$25 depending on your name and global extension (.com.au etc.)
What does the developer need from me?
Other than feedback, there is a few things that you need to bring to the table not only to speed up the development process, but to make sure that we deliver a quality product that you are satisfied with.
- Goals / Scope: It is important that the goals of your website and scope of the work involved are agreed upon before anything is started so that you know exactly what you are getting before anybody makes a serious investment. We not only want to deliver to you a quality product but also a product that you want and need.
- Text Content: What you want to be on your website. Your slogans, about us info, contact details, details about what you do, blog posts etc. Bear in mind that all of this will be modified for SEO purposes by your developer to give you the best chance of getting ahead of your competition on google.
- Pictures: Any images, graphics or logos that you wish to appear on the site will need to be provided to the developer.
- Your competitors: Analysing competitor websites is always a great way for a client to understand what they want out of their own website and it helps the developer to understand your target market.
- A list of websites you like: Your developer will always bring some website examples to the table to try and get an idea of what you are after but there is no better way for you to let your developer know (and to know yourself) what you are after than to bring a list of websites that you like features on.
- Business colours: If you are wanting your website to match your company colours then it may influence which theme is chosen or what design we go for. Knowing this first saves any chopping and changing down the line.
- Your target market: Are your potential customers teenagers? Young Adults? Farmers? Fisherman? Lawyers? Will they be using their mobile to access your site or will they do it from their desktop computer at home or work?