Keeping Your Web Info in Order

For some, building a website can be quite a big undertaking. Once you’ve done it once or twice, like anything, it gets easier. You’ve learned the lingo, understand the difference between domain registrar and hosting and have a good idea what your web designer will need from you.

One of the most crucial part is very simple, yet often overlook and that’s keeping everything about your website info in order. I’ve seen this problem happen many times when taking on new clients who dealt with a previous web designer. Transitioning to a new web designer can be painless or complicated, depending on how well you’re prepared.

All web designers see this and most of us offer similar advice. In this month’s copy of Zoonews, Kathryn Presner shares the following tips:

Domain registration – be sure you are listed as the domain registrant (not your web designer!) and that the email address on file is an active account. If your web designer’s email is listed as a contact instead of yours, make sure you switch it over to your own email address before you cut ties with your old designer. This is extremely important. I’ve heard of business owners who lost control of their domain name because they failed to do it.

Hosting account – keep handy all relevant details, including the name of your hosting company, the URL of your web-based control panel, and its username and password. Know your FTP (file transfer protocol) credentials, including your FTP host name, login and password. This information will allow your new designer to access your web server and website files.

Logo – have an electronic version of your current logo on hand. It should ideally be in a vector format (like Adobe Illustrator or EPS) on a transparent background, to ensure the greatest design flexibility.

Graphics – retain electronic versions of any images such as stock photos that you may wish to reuse.

E-commerce – know the login details of all e-commerce accounts you may have, such as PayPal and shopping cart systems. Be sure you have access to the accounts, and that they’re registered in your name.

Keep on file in an easy-to-remember place all other information and documents related to your website. It’ll simplify your life – and that of your new web designer – more than you can imagine.

Kathryn Presner runs a web design company, Zoonini Web Services in Montreal. She’s also spoken at several WordCamps and is a moderator on the WordPress Support Forums.

Hosting requirements for WordPress

The main advantage of using WordPress as a Content Management System (CMS) is the ability to make your own website edits. Gone are the days of finding a typo on your site and not being able to do anything about it. However a website powered by a CMS isn’t the same as a static website. In fact a site that is powered by a CMS is called dynamic, not static.

When making changes to a static site, you’re web developer modifies the code of each HTML page. Changes on a WordPress site are done by modifying the content which is stored in a database. The WordPress templates, coded using PHP, then pulls the content dynamically from the database and displays the webpage.

Thus when planning your WordPress, you’ll need to make sure that your hosting provider offers the following:

  • PHP version 4.3 or greater
  • MySQL version 5 or greater

Any server that runs PHP and MySQL will do, but an Apache server is the most robust and has the most features for running a WordPress site. Some hosting provider will tell you that Microsoft based servers are perfectly fine, but please don’t listen to them. The set up is quite difficult and no fun at all.

Having installed hundreds of WordPress sites, I am happy to recommend the following hosting providers.

These hosting providers all have very good WordPress support and great customer service.

Once you’ve set up your hosting, you’ll need to provide your web developer with the following:

  • Access to your hosting provider control panel – This is needed to set up the database
  • FTP access – This is needed to install the files on your server

Setting up a WordPress site is a bit more complicated than a static one, but with WordPress’s popularity, more and more hosting providers and making the necessary changes to offer full WordPress support.

Domain name and web hosting, what’s the difference?

When setting up your first website it’s not uncommon to get confused between domain name registration and web hosting.

Your domain name is the name of your site or your url (www.mynewcompany.com) and can be purchased by going to a domain name registrar. Domain names usually range from about $10 to $50/year depending on the extension. (.ca are more expensive than .com.)

Read more…

Looking for Canadian web hosting company? Look no further than Blacksun.

More often than not, web hosting is something that clients have already set up when they contact me. As a result I have to work with many hosting providers and learn how to navigate their admin panel and many quirkiness.

I ran in to a very bizarre WordPress error this morning following a brand new installation on one of Blacksun‘s server. Certain area of the web admin turned up blank pages. I did a quick search on Google and thought that this error may be due to a wrong php.ini setting.

Looking at Blacksun’s website, I found the contact number to their technical support really fast, called, and was greeted by a human voice in less than 2 minutes. I explained the situation, she looked at the error files and confirmed my initial thought. Instead of putting me on hold and leaving me to talk to her manager, she simply took my contact details and told me to call back. Have you ever had technical support call you back? I wasn’t going to hold my breath.

No more than 20 minutes later, a voicemail was delivered to my phone. The error was fixed and my site is now working perfectly. That’s the best customer service I’ve encountered in a long time.