Publishing a website
This article describes the various components of a website:
- web hosting
- domain name registration
- content management and editing
Web hosting is the service of providing somewhere for your website to exist on the internet. A web hosting provider will usually provide this service to multiple customers.
Typically, your web developer will organise hosting for you. You should attain and keep a copy of the information that developers use to transfer the website files to the internet ('FTP' access).
We do not recommend that your web developers also host your website over the long term. You should take ownership of access to the website (log-in names and passwords) and provide this to the developers for as long as needed.
Domain name registration
This is distinct from web hosting. Its the registration of your website's name and includes information about the owner of the site and where it is hosted.
Your site will be registered a domain name registrar. (Melbourne IT is one well-known Australian registrar).
Typically, your web developer will register the website for you. However, you should attain and keep a copy of the registration information. This way, you can't be 'held to ransom' by your web developer.
Registration is a time limited. It is essential for you (or your developer or web host) to re-register your domain name before it expires – or you could lose it.
Content management and editing
- content management systems
- web editing tools.
Content management systems
Most websites today use software called a content management system (CMS). A CMS provides an interface for you to add content to your site without having to use a web 'coding' language (such as HTML).
A CMS is actually a database. The user enters data into various fields that make up content for an 'article' (such as an individual webpage) – title, text, publication date, author and the section of the site in which the article will appear. Templates carry the graphic design. The data from the CMS is combined with the templates to create the webpage that the end-user sees.
There are many brands of CMS and you should use one that many others use (i.e. don't get one that is only used by your web developers). Some of the more common ones are Drupal, Joomla and Word Press.
Your developers will typically favour one of these. You should ask why, and how it relates to the needs of your site – some CMS suit different types of websites.
Web editing tools
Before CMS was popular, the easiest way to edit content was by using web-design software. These programs use a 'WYSIWYG' (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) interface so that users can edit web pages without engaging in 'coding'.
Famous brands include Dreamweaver and GoLive. There are many others with many variations.
If your website has a CMS, it will probably be all you use. A disadvantage of this is that you are 'locked in' to the existing templates and need to engage a web developer to make changes.
In the hands of more technical users, web editing or design tools can provide a way to add functionality that is not provided for in the CMS.
If you will edit your website without a CMS, you will need:
- web-design software (such as listed above)
- a tool to re-size digital images (to optimise them for online use)
- software that enables uploading and downloading your files from the web server – an 'FTP' (file transfer protocol) program.
Many of these tools are free on the internet but a discussion of them is beyond the scope of this article.