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If you’ve never built a website before, you first question is probably, “How does a website work?”
Whenever I’m contacted by new potential website owners, I like to share diagrams and outlines to explain the process and what goes into building a site. Some people come to me who already have either a sketch, or a list of things they’d like, or a few website links of websites they like – and this is a great start. Others come to me and just “want a website” but don’t really mind what it looks like.
One of my recent clients was very surprised to discover that I was able to create a feature-rich website with 11 pages — all from one page of information he’d provided, plus a couple of photos. I love a challenge, and love seeing the look of surprise and excitement when these new website owners see their site for the first time 🙂
So here is a list of information which might help you, if you’re wondering how all this works – whether it’s difficult, easy or a bunch of hocus pocus or mumbo-jumbo 🙂 Let me know what you think, and especially if you still have questions.
If there’s anything here you don’t understand, please do contact me (form at the bottom of the page, or Contact link in the Menu above) and I’ll do my best to help you.
Things to consider:
- how does a website work with domains – and do I own it outright?
- how does a website work with hosting, and what IS hosting?
- how does a website work with software, images, photos, etc?
- how does a website work best with a Theme or design?
Want to know the absolute basics of how a website works?
OK – ready to jump in feet first? Let’s look at the image above, read the four main things required to create a website online, and then read below for more details:
- a domain name – this is like owning your own street “address” and paying a yearly fee for it
- a hosting space – this is like paying monthly “rental” for a physical space, shop or an office
- a website – this is like the interior of the shop or office space
- a website design or Theme – this is like the front plate glass window, painting and design of your overall “look and feel” of the store or shop (for your website).
Need a store / shop?
If you are building a Store online, you might also need:
- website store software
- a Paypal account for online transaction processing (collecting money from shoppers)
- if you do not have a Paypal account, your web designer might set this up for you – please ask them to quote a price so you know all your expenses up front.
Depending on any additional requirements for functionality you might want for your website, you might also add:
- additional software modules or Plugins (bits of software) to add forms, business directory, calendar, booking schedule, analytics, and much much more
- by providing a detailed list of what you want, your web designer will be able to provide a detailed Quotation (the MORE detailed you are, the more CONCISE the quotation will be)
- if you are on a budget, you will be able to pick and choose the technology and functionality you can afford.
Make a list of what you like about OTHER websites
“Teena, can’t you just create 5 to 10 mock-ups of a website for me??”
True story. A potential website client approached me about 6 months ago, but didn’t have any information to give me for their proposed website — they said, “Before I pay you any money, just mock up (or create) 5-10 website “looks” for me, include a few information pages with each one (about me page, products etc), and then let’s get together and look at them.”
Whoa! This request could potentially be several days worth of work, with no guarantee the potential client will sign on the dotted line.
In case you’re not aware, this is not how website design works, so let me help clarify. This is like saying to the Dentist, “I like white shiny teeth. Before I decide to use your services, just spend a ton of time and create a few sets of teeth for me to look at soon. If I like any of them, I might choose them. If not, I’ll ask you to spend more of your time and come up with ideas for me.”
This is also like going to a grocery store and saying, “I’ve got 10 items in my basket, but I won’t pay you today. I’d like to check these out first and see what I think. Once I know what I think, I’ll be able to decide what to do next.” Would YOU like to try this out, and let me know what happens? I’ve got a fair idea what that conversation might be like.
Can you see how this potential client’s expectations are quite high, and how they expect work done for free in advance of hiring the web designer (or the dentist)?
The ideal situation is if the client does their research and lets the web designer know about a couple of website links to look at — together they can view several other site designs the client already likes, then they can quickly work out which bits the client likes most from each website. It’s also customary to pay a Deposit in advance (anywhere from 30-60% up front, depending on the web designer’s requirements.
TIP! When you approach a web designer, ask THEM how their process works with a new website client — rather than tell them what you expect. Once you know what their process is, you’ll be able to work together for the best solution for your site.
If the client really doesn’t know what they want, some web designers will create a simple site for the client (after they pay their deposit), and offer one or two rounds of changes included in the final price. The scenario works quite well for many people.
Before you visit a web designer or arrange a Skype or phone meeting, it’s a good idea to have a bit of an idea about what you want. You can work out every little thing you’d like on the website, make a list of each piece of technology so that your web designer can give you a Quotation on:
- buying the domain if required
- setting up the domain so that it is connected with the website’s Hosting Account
- setting up the Hosting Account
- installing the website software
- purchasing (if required) a Theme or installing a free Theme.
“How does a website work with Lead Generation?” – Gathering email names legally on the site
If you’d like to collect web visitors’ names and email names, you’ll need:
- an online account with a Mailing List & Autoresponder Company like Aweber
- someone to help you set up the “look and feel”/design of your Newsletter
- an irresistible offer to give in exchange for an email name, which could be a content-filled PDF, video series or other type of information which has a high perceived value for your website visitor
- if you don’t already have an account like this, your web designer might set this up for you – please ask them to quote a price so you know all your expenses up front.
“How does a website work with photos and images?”
If you have images (or photos) for your website:
- you will need to provide digital images and photos in a special format like .jpg or .gif or .png, in order for your website designer to be able to use them
- if you do not have digital images, your web designer will have to convert them to a digital format before they can put them on the website – ask to make sure if there is a cost involved; some web designers will convert one or two images per page for free, but might charge an hourly rate for more than that
- if you need a Photo Gallery, let the web designer know to install if this is additional software
- if you do not have ANY images or photos, your web designer should be able to source them for you, but do not put any images or photos on your website unless you have written authority that they are copyright-free and royalty-free, otherwise you could be fined anywhere from hundreds to many thousands of dollars in copyright-infringement fees by the owners of the images or photos
- never use images you “copy” or steal from Google searchs (or any other search engine) as you do not own these photos and have no legal right to use them (unless you have researched the copyright status and royalty status in advance, and paid whatever is required).
Audio and video files on the website
If you want to add videos or audio files (or podcasts) to your website, talk to your web designer so they can provide you with the information you need and a quotation if required:
- if you need to source these, your web designer should be able to help.
Need extra functionality on the site?
Additional things to be aware of:
if you ask your website designer to add functionality to your site:
- consider that it’s possible they’ve either never had to find software like this before or never used software like this before
- consider that it may take them some time to research and locate, then test multiple types of software before they find exactly what you’re looking for
- they may need to show you different options before you can make your choice
- all of this takes time, and time is money, so be prepared to pay for this entire process as your web designer has had to spend the time on your behalf.
Getting the site launched online and visible to the world
After the website is created:
- once you accept the website design and the site’s been installed and launched, you will be required to make the final payment
- once the final payment is made, your web designer or developer generally provides you with :
- the Login and Password for the website’s Admin area – also known as the Dashboard
- the Login and Password for a web statistics or analytics account has been set up
- the Login and Password for your Hosting Account
- the Login and Password for your Domain Name (if you did not already have this) so that you can update your address and other detailes whenever you need to
- the Login and Password for your Paypal account if required
- the Login and Password for anything else for which you’ve asked for installation or implementation.
“How does the monthly fee work for websites?”
“My hosting was so cheap I can’t believe it!” Famous last words
True story. I was recently helping a client with SEO and online marketing strategies, and over a period of 5 business days the website was “down” (offline”) for 30-60 minutes at a time each day. When I asked where the site was hosted, I found out they’d got a “real bargain!” … but with so many “down” periods, this was hurting their business.
Be aware that if you pay the absolute cheapest hosting fees, you may not get the absolute best service – yes there are some fantastic website hosting companies who don’t charge a lot of money, but please do your research first before going with the cheapest price. Look online for negative comments about the hosting company and “up time”.
Every time the site was “down”, visitors couldn’t find this chap’s website, which can result in lost business and lost opportunities. Make sure you have a well-known reliable hosting company, do your research to make sure they have an excellent record and very few (if any) bad reviews about them online.
Depending on your web designer and how they structure their web design business:
- you will need to pay this either monthly, quarterly or yearly
- you may need to pay a monthly amount which also covers Support or one-on-one training or updates (this is a good way to make sure all your small updates, changes and training can happen each month as you gain more confidence with your website, and while you’ve still got your “training wheels” on
- this is also a good practice for those who are extremely busy and don’t have the time to make their own website edits – they can contact the web designer to do these for them on a monthly basis
- this is exactly what happens with my clients – their Monthly Hosting Fee also covers 30 minutes of my time each month – we can meet in person, over the phone, via Skype or email and I can update their site, make changes, research new products for them, or a whole host of other tasks. Oh – I might also train them on how to do something they want to learn on the computer, or I might make a video tutorial for them – we work out what they need, and then I help them. It’s a win-win for us both as we keep in touch on a monthly basis and they get things done on their website which really need doing.
Things which you definitely should NOT have on your website:
- anything which flashes, rolls or scrolls — or looks like ticker-tape — which is going to be annoying for everyone who visit your site
- music which starts playing automatically – argggggh
- videos which start playing automatically – very annoying.
Just to let you know, this isn’t a complete or exhaustive list of absolutely everything – each website requires different functionality and options, some of which you might not even think of until it’s been developed and launched online. This is mostly a list of what’s been needed on websites I’ve developed for new clients, so they’re fresh in my mind 🙂
I hope that wasn’t way too much information! Did you find this helpful, or a bit overwhelming? I hope I’ve been able to make it a bit easier to answer the question, “How does a website work?” and as always, I’d love your comments and feedback if you’d like to share any stories of your own.
Ciao for now,
Have you asked, “Do I really need a website?” Are these questions below some of the ones you’ve been wondering about? Maybe you have more questions and just don’t know the answers, don’t know who to ask, and don’t know WHERE or WHAT to search for?
If you read my tips and sign up for more, I’ll be able to help you save time, money and work by providing the answer you need. I’ll be able to prevent you spending days, weeks, months or years to learn all this stuff – because I’ve already done that. I can show you how to do all these things – to get started, please post your questions at the bottom of the page where it says ADD A COMMENT, and I’ll answer your specific questions as quickly as I can.
If you click on the coloured boxes below, you’ll be able to read my answers to these questions, written in plain and simple language so everyone can understand.
If you’d like to jump straight to the video,
click here >>
Click to read my answers to “Do I really need a website” – or sign up for more detailed explanations, sent to you by email, every 4-5 days or so.
Let me know what you think – if you post your Comments, you might also be helping someone else who’s had one of these questions:
- do I REALLY need a website?
- how many PAGES will my website need?
- do I really need a NEWSLETTER?
- I have to UPDATE my website – OFTEN?!
- how will people FIND my website?
- how will I know they VISITED my website?
- you can ANSWER my questions? FANTASTIC!
If you’d like to receive more detailed answers to these questions about websites – and many more – you might like to sign up for my mailing list, “Do I really need a website?“. I’ll send you information and examples on all the different things a website can be used for, including all the add-on modules and cool things you can add to your websites. Would you like that? OK then, pop your name and email address in the boxes below, and tell me your ONE BURNING QUESTION about websites – thanks for dropping by!
Would you like to know how to track your online reputation?
In my 22 page Report I show you the step-by-step process I use to keep an eye on what’s being said online. Once you know how to track these “mentions” online, you’ll learn how to set them up, and use these simple techniques for tracking your reputation. You will be able to see the results on a daily, weekly or monthly basis – you specify how often you’d like to be notified, so if the daily results are too overwhelming, simply change the settings to suit.
A downloadable Report by Teena Hughes:
- 20+ pages of step-by-step instructions on how to start taking control of your reputation online
- it takes as little as 5 minutes per day
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Got a question?
Hi! You’ve landed on this page because you’ve either downloaded my PDF of 33 Top Website Tips or signed up to receive my 33 videos by email. I’d like to suggest you bookmark this page, so if you have any questions, please let me know by filling in the form below, and I’ll share the answers on this page for everyone to benefit from them.
If you’ve landed on this page from a web search, you might like to sign up for my 33 Top Website Tips 🙂
If you don’t have a question, but would like to make a comment, you can do that too – just scroll down the page to ADD A COMMENT – thanks so much!
|Question from:Â TG Member||Dec 1, 2010|
|What were the tips and links on the 1st December 2010 call?|
|Question from:Â TG Members||Nov 3, 2010|
|What were the links in November 3, 2010 call? Read the answer >>
|Question from:Â TG Member||Oct 27, 2010|
|When creating a series of videos, should the same keywords be used for all of them? Read the answer >>
|Question from:Â TG Member||Oct 27, 2010|
|How to automate sending out links about my new web page? Read the answer >>
|Question from:Â TG Member||Oct 27, 2010|
|How to generate an XML sitemap? Read the answer >>
|Question from:Â TG Member||Oct 27, 2010|
|How to go from iMovie to .flv? Read the answer >>
|Question from:Â TG Member||Oct 27, 2010|
|What was the keyword tool for local US businesses? Read the answer >>
|Question from:Â TG Member||Oct 27, 2010|
|What is the Firefox tool mentioned on today’s phone call? Read the answer >>
|Question from: Karen-in-Canada||Jun 8, 2010|
|You mention anchor text: that is something I don’t understand — what it is, what it does, how to add it.
PS love the tips slideshow – went right the way through!
|Question from: Angela||Jun 5, 2010|
|Hi Teena, love the 33 Tips PDF! I do have a question – when I use hyperlinking from one page to another, do I use my ‘keyword phrase’ on the webpage or do I type the whole page link?
Read the answer >>
I’ve just created a postcard with 13 Top Tips for Keyword Meta Tags on your Website, and I think it’s a handy little tool to have on your noteboard by your computer.
Here are my 13 Top Tips for Keyword Meta Tags on your Website – are you using all of these?
Would you like to learn more about these?
If your answer is “Yes please!”, then you might like to sign up to receive one email per SEO Tip, with a video tutorial describing each tip in more detail.
At the end of the series, hopefully you will have learnt something new you can utilise on your own website.
I’d love to know if you’ve already tried any of these techniques, would you like to leave a Comment below? Thanks so much in advance 🙂
Are you wondering what the heck this even means?
But — if you don’t know WHICH keywords to use, how can you even get started?
If you’ve been asking yourself some of these questions, and feeling lost – don’t worry – you’re not alone.
Over the past five to ten years there have been tried and true ways to research keywords using software, or online services, and it was big business.
But here we are in 2013 (yes this article has been updated) and I’d like to tell you the easiest ways to work out what the keywords are for your business and website.
- Forget the keyword and SEO software
- Forget the online services
- Forget that many people tell you this is complicated …
- Yes, some of the old techniques definitely still work extremely well, but this is the simplest way for YOU to get started.
The secret is …
That’s right — the keywords for YOUR business and website are simply the QUESTIONS people ask about your business.
Whether you’re a dog walker, or a beautician, an artist or real estate agent, an author or a management consultant, etc etc — make a LIST of questions people ask you.
That’s it — it’s that simple.
When you have a list of QUESTIONS, all you need to do is create one web page or blog post for each question, then ANSWER the question on that page or post.
The MORE questions and answers you provide, the easier it will be for people to find your website in search engine results.
“So Teena, HOW do I work out which keywords to use? Write QUESTIONS? It’s THAT easy?”
If you create 10 questions and answers, that’s 10 new pages or posts.
What if you did 25, or 50 or even 100 questions and answers? If you answer a ton of questions which potential clients or customers ask you, and other potential clients and customers type ANY of those questions into any search engine, you’ll be FOUND in the search engine results pages (known as the SERPs).
So set yourself a goal today:
- start writing your list of questions
- use every question you’ve heard in person, via email, or over the phone etc etc
- start by creating one new page/post per week
- if you can do more, that’s FANTASTIC! do that!
The bottom line is, never stop answering questions on your website.
If you’ve ANSWERED the question, and provided more Q&A’s, they’ll stay on your site and keep reading. Fantastic!
Post about them online in social media (twitter, facebook, Linkedin, etc) and on other places online where YOUR potential clients might hang out — become the “go to” person in your niche or industry, the one which ANSWERS all the questions people could possibly dream up about YOUR expertise, and slowly but surely you will start to get website traffic and visitors.
Now what you DO with that website traffic is up to you – you’ll need to work out a way to turn those visitors into clients, but that’s a whole other topic I’ll cover another day 🙂
Best of luck, keep me posted — I’d love to hear how you get on!
Don’t forget to post a comment and let us know what you’re going to try — and what your results are. Isn’t this the easiest answer to “How do I work out which keywords to use for my website?” you could imagine? It is? Great! Let’s connect soon
Here are my answers to “Do I REALLY need a website?” – you can either watch the video or scroll down to read my answers.
So you have a bunch of questions and you’re not sure where to go from here. Let me answer each of these questions (and more) and see if I can help you quickly understand how fabulous it is to have a website for your business, hobby or passion.
Do I REALLY need a website?
Before i answer this, maybe I should ask you some other questions.
Do you have something you’re trying to sell – a product, or a service? Or do you have information you’d love to share with as many people as you possibly can?
If your answer is “Yes!”, then you really do need a website or blog 🙂 You can reach a global audience of willing shoppers and followers if you have a website, rather than sitting at home hoping someone will hear about you by word of mouth.
How many PAGES will my website need?
This will depend on how much information you’d like to share with your website visitors – to start with you should have:
Apart from these standard pages, you will need to add pages on a regular basis to keep your website visitors interested in what you have to say and show them.
Do I really need a NEWSLETTER?
This would have to be the one thing many new website owners tell me they (a) don’t have time for or (b) don’t want to do.
Let me ask you this question – if you were ready to publish a book, launch your new jewellery, sell your fabulous products or services online … would you like a willing crowd of people to tell? A crowd of folks who’ve been following you and feel like they’re getting to know you, so much so that when you email them about your new whatever-it-is, some of them will buy it straight away? If you answered “Yes!” to this question, then YES YOU NEED A NEWSLETTER 🙂 It just doesn’t have to be as complicated or time-consuming as you might imagine – honest.
I have to UPDATE my website – OFTEN?!
If you like shopping for anything – let’s say it’s shoes, or even cars – how would you feel if you went back to the shoe shop or the car dealership week after week and nothing changed? I’m thinking you might get bored with that 🙂
If you update your website often (at LEAST once a week) then some of your site visitors might come back again to see what’s changed and what you’ve been up to. Makes sense?
How will people FIND my website?
There are sooo many answers to this question, but I’ll make it short so as not to overwhelm you with tons of great information. If you use website techniques (called SEO – “search engine optimization”), AND you write great interesting content on your webpages, AND you update your website regularly, AND if you write a Newsletter … people will find your website on the internet. You have to be willing to work hard and do all the right things on an ongoing basis to make sure your website is loved by the search engines and the website visitors – and yes, I can teach you all of these techniques 🙂
How will I know if anyone VISITED my website?
When you set up or build a website, there are many little steps along the way to make sure people will find you. To find out HOW they found you, all you have to do is make sure your website visitors are being ‘tracked’ when they land on your site, and as they pop through your pages. This is called Website Statistics, and it can also track which words the visitors typed into a search engine to FIND you. Isn’t that clever? If you learn to read your ‘web stats’ on a regular basis, they can help you with your business.
You can ANSWER my questions? FANTASTIC!
Yes, I certainly can 🙂 If you follow my system, you will save money, time and a lot of work which might have taken you days, weeks, months or years – because I’ve already done that over the past 6 or 7 years, and learnt everything you wish to know. Imagine that – I can save you so much time and money, and show you the most easy-to-understand way, with words and video tutorials. Are you ready for an adventure? I hope so 🙂
If you could ask me ONE BURNING QUESTION ABOUT WEBSITES, what would it be?
Please post it as a Comment below, and I’ll do my very best to answer you as quickly as possible (and please do remember I’m located in Australia, so I might not be in the same time zone as you 🙂
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Ciao for now,
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Hi Teena, I just had to say even though I have been building my website for 3 years now, I LOVE LOVE LOVE these 33 top website tips! It’s like a quick refresher course and there are plenty of tips there that I should be doing that I’m not. I have signed up to the daily videos so I can set aside time each day to make the most of your information. Thanks for all this so that we can actually have control over our own websites and understand what we are doing!! — Michelle, Inspired by Michelle Cake Designs
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Iâ€™d LOVE to hear from you! What are your thoughts, opinions, or questions about these tips? Are you excited? Has the penny dropped on something you’ve been wondering about? If so, please share your experiences in the Comment form below.
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Just how private is our information on forums?
Question from Janice:
One quick question? I’m about to build a memberships site for folks with addiction. How can we be assured that what goes on, on that site, stays on that site?
It will be anonymous and in WordPress with Wishlist, but can there be guarantees that forum info isnâ€™t made public?
Teena says …
Hi Janice, I can’t say whether there’ll be 100% privacy on your forum – the only folks who can guarntee that are the developers of the software.
Why not contact Wishlist and ask them direct? They will have had the question before I’m sure.
You can also contact WordPress.org and see what they have to say.
All I know is that I’ve had alerts to show me my own ‘private’ forum communications plastered on the internet – so I’m cautious about what I post these days 🙂