How to Get Your Website Design Online
For many people new to website building, moving from a development situation to online and live is frightening. You have spent days, weeks, or even months working on design, content and structure to get your website just the way you want it. Now you need to figure out how to get it online and, more importantly, how to get it online without breaking it and undoing all of that hard work.
Parents will know this feeling more than anyone else. Do you remember when you had your first child and you and baby were still in hospital? You will probably have felt anxiety about the first car journey home. And that anxiety was probably nothing compared to what your husband was feeling. Most dads in this situation are a bundle of nerves with an irrational fear that baby’s first car journey will end in a flaming wreckage.
The best advice you can give parents in this situation is to take their time and be careful, and everything will be okay. The same applies to moving a website from a development platform to online – it will be okay if you take your time and understand the steps in the process.
You Need Web Hosting First – And A Domain Name
Before you start planning your website move, make sure you have your website hosting and domain sorted out. The domain name is how people will find your website, and website hosting refers to the computers (or servers) where your website files will be stored.
There are a few terms you might encounter at this stage.
- DNS – This stands for Domain Name System. It is basically a big database managed by ICANN (the lovely people who run the internet – and yes, there are people who run it). It basically matches your domain name to a series of numbers that computers recognize.
- Name Server – This is part of your website hosting. It communicates with DNS to tell the internet how to access your website. You will need to set this up with help from your hosting provider. Note that sometimes the words DNS and Name Server are used interchangeably.
- Control Panel – A control panel is software that runs on your server. It is usually setup by your website hosting provider (check with them if in doubt). Its function is to make it easier to manage your server. In practical terms it means you can do most things by clicking on icons, rather than typing in commands. Popular control panels include CPanel and Plesk.
Okay, now we are getting into the nuts and bolts of uploading a website and getting it online. For simple websites built using HTML and CSS, FTP is the easiest way.
The letters stand for File Transfer Protocol and they describe how you get your website from point A (offline) to point B (online). At both points you need software, called FTP client software, so the transfer can take place.
Think of it like a train journey: transferring something by FTP is like taking a train. But you cannot make a successful train journey without a train station at the beginning and end of the trip. FTP client software is the equivalent of the train station.
There are great FTP clients available for free, including FileZilla and SmartFTP, while your website hosting provider will provide the FTP client software on the server side. Using it is as simple as selecting all of your website files and copying them to your server.
Websites built using CMS (Content Management Systems) are usually more complicated, which makes them a little bit harder to transfer. Primarily this is because they involve a database as well as website files.
There are many step-by-step guides you can use to manually put a website built using a CMS online. These articles are good because they give you an understanding of the process.
But the easiest way to put your CMS built website online is to use a specialist piece of software that handles the whole process for you. Most CMS websites are built using Wordpress, and great examples of Wordpress plugins that will handle the entire transfer process for you are Backup Buddy and Duplicator.
Whatever type of website you have built, the process of getting your website online is not complicated. There are several steps you have to go through, and it can take time depending on the size of your website and files. But the process is straightforward.