It is useful to understand what is required for a functioning website:
- a domain name
- a hosting service
- web pages
- a way of updating the web pages
You can think of a domain name as the address for your website. People can type it into their web browser address bar in order to get to your website and they will see it there with other text added after it while they visit the different pages of your site.
The domain name for this website is caledonwebservices.com . In order to obtain a domain name for your website, you need to register it with one of the authorized services. The first step in registration is a search to see if your preferred name is available. With the number of websites in existence today, it is quite possible that your first choice will already be taken, but it should be possible to find something memorable and meaningful. A domain name costs of the order of $10- $20 per year and is often included in a service bundle from your web-hosting company; registering it through your hosting company simplifies things.
It can be tempting to think of a website as a place, but actually it is a set of computer files which are stored on a server (a server is just a computer with a large amount of file storage space, connected to the internet and dedicated to storing website information). These files are accessed when someone types your domain name into their browser and navigates from page to page using your menu. They determine what is sent to the visitor’s computer and how the your content will be displayed on their browser. The hosting company provides space on its servers for these files and makes them available by linking them to your domain name; you can think of this as where your site “is”.
The best web-hosting services have excellent technical support and will be useful resources if you ever have any questions, for example if you wish to change to a different domain name at a later date, so it is worth spending a little more to select one with a good reputation. In the early days of the World Wide Web, Website design companies frequently used to offer web-hosting services at their own location, but these days there are many affordable services dedicated to hosting which are able to offer 24hr service and sophisticated security, so this is becoming less common. Caledon Web Services does not provide a hosting service but can give some advice on how to choose one.
So you have a domain name and a hosting service, now you need some web pages to display. Caledon Web Services uses the very popular and powerful WordPress platform to build your web pages. The WordPress software is installed on your domain at your web-hosting service. We can help you choose a “theme” which is consistent with the “look” you are trying to create, and then the web pages are built according to your requirements. This “self-hosted” version of WordPress* has available an enormous number of “plug-ins”, many of them free, which provide a great deal of flexibility in what can be included in your website (photo galleries, contact forms, links to social icons to name just a few). Normally, your pages will be hidden during “construction” and made public only when you have given final approval.
Updating Your Web Pages
Creating the files which contain the information needed to display web pages was a difficult and time-consuming task in the early days of the World Wide Web. This meant that the client typically had to go back to the web design company in order to implement even small changes to the website’s content, layout or functionality. It also made it difficult, if not impossible, to switch web design companies. Today, with a small amount of training in how to use WordPress you will probably find you are confident to post articles (“blog”) and make small changes yourself. If not, Caledon Web Services is happy to provide an ongoing service. And if you are not happy with our service for any reason, there are other companies who can pick up where we left off – the site files are yours and you have control over who looks after them!
There is a certain amount of maintenance required as new versions of WordPress, your theme and the plugins you are using are launched from time to time. You could either take this on yourself or ask us to do periodic maintenance so that your site is up to date. These days, many of the updates include security improvements **, so while the updates may not appear to change anything it is advisable to install them.
* If you find the prospect of “self-hosting” and making decisions about which plugins to use etc daunting, there is a simpler alternative. WordPress also offers a “hosted” version of its service. You can register a domain name and have WordPress host your site all at WordPress.com. The process of building your pages is basically the same, but WordPress will take care of all software updates and backups without you needing to be concerned. There are many features included, but you cannot add other plugins to them as you can with a self-hosted WordPress site.
If all of these choices seem confusing, feel free to phone to ask for a more detailed explanation.
**Minor updates to the WordPress software are now made automatically, even on self-hosted sites.