- What is needed for a website to be on the internet?
- There are three requirements for a website. The first is a domain name. The second is a provider who will host the website on the server. The third is the website itself. I can organise the first two and provide the third.
- What is a domain name and how do I get one?
- A domain name is an identifier for your website. It is unique so that only your website is identified by it and it gives you control over your website. A good name will reflect your business or what your website is about. The domain name comes with a domain name password or EPP (Extensible Provisioning Protocol) that is required when domain name control is passed from one person to another; such as transferring web hosting or when selling the rights to the domain name to another person.
You can buy the right to use a domain name for a period of time from a Registrar for an annual fee. You don’t actually own it, you only control it. Several key pieces of information are required. These are (1) an Administrative Contact (the owner), (2) the Technical Contact (usually the web developer) and (3) a Billing Contact (where to send invoices from the domain name registrar). The usual practice is for the customer to be the Administrative Contact so that any requests by email for domain name transfer using the password can be authorised by the owner. The Technical and Billing contacts are usually the web developer who hosts and maintains the website and who will pass on costs to the owner. Of course, if you want complete control without help then you can be all three. For clients who prefer me to do it all for them, I can be all three during a transfer process and then change the Administrative Contact email address back to the client afterwards.
Some domain names have certain restrictions. An Australian .com.au or .net.au requires an Australian business identifier such as an ABN or State business number (see auDA’s policy). I can register a domain name for you with your Administrative Contact details and that makes it easier for both of us if I am to host your website. Or you can do it, through VentraIP or any registrar of your choice.
- Who provides website hosting?
- Hosting is a specialised business. Hosting servers need to be secure from hackers and malware. Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on websites are common and need to be mitigated using specialised techniques. Website hosting requires experienced and technically proficient staff and there are many hosting companies in Australia with that ability. Those companies can also act as domain name registrars.
I use a company called VentraIP where I have a WHM Multi Hosting account. I can host your website using VentraIP or I can organise your own hosting account with VentraIP or any other hosting provider of your choice. I can provide advice based on your needs and what I read on Whirlpool about other people’s experience with other hosting providers, some of whom are very good, others not so good. I have heard that Panthur and NetVirtue provide reliable hosting, good support and reasonable prices if you would like to choose an alternative provider.
- How many email addresses can I have with my website?
- That is up to your hosting service provider. If you host with me, then the number of email addresses associated with your website would be as many as you want.
- Will you write my website content for me?
- No, not unless you force me. Nobody knows your business, your clients, your products and what you want to say better than you do. If I was to write your text, it would involve many hours of meetings for me to imperfectly understand what you want, do the actual writing of the text at developer’s rates and then attend further meetings to make editorial changes. It could become expensive for you (see my pricing page) and you would still get a better product writing it yourself or employing a copywriter. It is better if you provide the text in electronic document form and I edit your text and make helpful suggestions. Text can be provided in a scannable form but there will be extra charges ($50/h) for scanning, OCR, OCR corrections or physically entering text. I am not a fast typist.
- Can you help me make my website work properly?
- Yes. I have had clients where their existing websites were not working properly. Where there were budgetary constraints, I have provided quick fixes to get them out of immediate trouble. I have completely rewritten existing web sites to make them far more effective in content, layout and appearance. Please see my pricing page for rates.
As an example of what I do, one website was not working because database access had failed. The developer was no longer available and emails from the hosting company about the database change went to the ex-developer’s defunct email address. The client had no idea why her website was dead and she was desperate because her work was drying up. I was able to liaise with the hosting company to gain access to the client’s account with the client’s permission, change the contact details and rewrite the code to regain access to the database. Another example was where the code had been written by a budget overseas developer and the website required a substantial amount of work to fix the layout and add extra content. Occasionally you can get a bargain but generally you get what you pay for.
- Can I manage the content of my website?
- Yes. I can provide websites based on content management systems such as WordPress. I can even provide simple content management systems for only a few pages of the website if that is required. Generally, I find my clients with simple content management systems never use them and ask me to make any changes for them anyway. I can provide websites without these systems and make any simple changes as part of the hosting package.
- Do you provide website maintenance?
- Yes. Please see my pricing page. Even so, if you host with me I provide free minor maintenance for the lifetime of the hosting. For example, I recently received a security notification from a Joomla website built for a customer back in 2009. The notification said a strange new user had been created. This was suspicious, so I immediately notified the customer, went in, changed a setting and disabled that new user. The important thing about this story is you will not be left without help years after you have paid for your website.
- Will you fix up my WordPress theme?
- Yes. I make custom websites using WordPress and I can modify WordPress themes using child themes. Child themes prevent a site from breaking when WordPress or the parent theme is updated. The changes can be extensive. One of my clients has a WordPress theme that now looks completely different to the original but still has the theme’s functionality.
- Will you fix my website and then let somebody else take it over?
- Well, it is your website. As long as you pay my fee (see my pricing page) you can do what you like with it. Consider: as part of the package if you host your website with me, I will make minor changes when requested while bedding in the website and minor changes for the lifetime of the hosting. If you would like somebody else to maintain the site while I still host it, I will provide cPanel and ftp login details.
- What do you use to write your websites?
- I use HTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, Ajax and jQuery for the code. I use PhpStorm to write the code and GIMP to modify images. Some code is written in an object oriented format, other code is procedural. Web hosting is done on VentraIP Linux/Apache based servers running PHP version 5.5. I have had a year’s training in Visual Studio/ ASP.NET C# but would prefer not to. These days I have found WordPress using StudioPress themes to be useful.
- Will we need to meet?
- The internet is a global phenomenon and we can be anywhere in the world. We can communicate by email and files can be attached. There is Dropbox for larger files and images and we can talk using VoIP, Skype or WhatsApp. I can always put up wireframes and drafts of your website on a spare domain name for you to look at. Where you already have a domain name and hosting, you can look at the progress of your own website and provide feedback.
With new websites, if they have not been linked to from another source or they have not been registered with a search engine, they will not be found through searching. You do not need to worry about others seeing your incomplete website.
There is no need to meet. Of course, if you do wish to meet in person and are in Sydney then something can be arranged.
- Do I own the code or stock images for my website?
- No. I reuse code to save time and money. Some of the code is FOSS and I do not own it, much less you. What you do have is copyright on the appearance and unique content of your website and access to the code. If requested, I can provide a CD with the website’s code or ftp details to log into the website’s files at the end of the project. An example of the re-use of code where there are many variations on layout and appearance of a simple theme can be found at Zen Gardens. Images are controlled by the terms of agreement used to purchase those images.
Purchased stock photos from a site such as Shutterstock can be used on your website but you do not own nor have the rights to sell those images. The best thing to do is provide your own images or purchase from agencies such as Shutterstock who provides an indemnity under their TOC (Sect.27).
- Can I copy other websites and images I like?
- You need to observe the copyright of others. Even if you buy a theme or template, you are most likely not entitled to use the images, only the code and layout. You cannot copy logos, icons, graphics, photographs, videos and music from other websites to your site without permission from the copyright holder.
I do believe that if you create original transformative art from existing art (see derivative work, but that might apply only in the U.S.A.) and if it is sufficiently distinct from the original then you do not infringe copyright. It is best to seek legal advice rather than my opinion.
If you copy the layout and colours of another website so that your site looks very similar, you could receive a letter asking you to cease and desist and pay damages. This Sitepoint article by Sean Hammond provides an interesting summary: Copyright 101: The 10 Things to Know About Using Imagery.
- HTML is short for HyperText Markup Language. It is used to code web pages so that they can be read by browsers such as Firefox, Opera and Chrome etc. If you right click on this page using your mouse and choose “View Page Source” from the list of options then you will see an example of HTML. CSS is short for Cascading Style Sheets. It is a style sheet language that is used to turn the HTML you saw when looking at the “View Page Source” into what you see when you look at a web page in your browser. It is used to provide a presentation, layout or appearance of the content provided by the HTML.
PHP is short for PHP: Hypertext PreProcessor. It is a server side scripting language. What that means is that on your web hosting server, that serves your web page to the internet, PHP can be used to assemble the HTML before it is served over the internet to a browser. It can also be used for verification of forms and for calculations before the results are sent back over the internet to your browser.
MySQL is one of many structured query languages used to interrogate databases. I use it because it is FOSS.