The basics of website hosting

Introduction:

So you know your company is looking for a website redesign, but what’s the next step? And what in the world is website hosting? It’s easy to get lost in website jargon, from servers and IP addresses to domains and robots. You’ve heard of the term ‘website hosting’ before, but it sounds too confusing and reminds you more of the movie Alien than an element to know when beginning the website redesign process. Here are the basics of website hosting:

 

website hosting basics

 

What is website hosting?

Every website on the Internet is made up of a bunch of different computer files, including all its images, text, videos, etc. So, every website also needs a space where all of these files are kept. ‘Website hosting’ refers to that space where your website files are stored and maintained. Most often when you hear the term ‘website hosting’ it refers to a company that provides space on their servers (think super computers) to keep or “host” all your website’s files. Hosting your website on a server is important for a lot of reasons, which we’ll talk about below, but mainly because these servers have a crazy fast Internet connection. And that’s super important, especially if many people from all over the world are trying to access your website at once.

What is the difference between my website domain and website hosting?

This is where it can get confusing because it is possible to have one company register your domain name and another company host that website. In our research, we came across a house analogy that we like super well.

Think about it like this:

  1. Your website domain (www.blendermedia.com) is like the street address of your home where people go to find you.
  2. Website hosting is the house itself that stores all of your stuff (data and website files), and keeps things maintained.

 

website hosting basics

 

The benefits of professional website hosting

Most companies pay a professional website hosting company to take good care of their website files, or they find a web design agency that both creates their website and provides website hosting services. Regardless of the way you go about it, you want to make sure your website hosting is done right, aka professionally. Here’s why you want to hire somebody.

1. Backup power supply

If the lights go out, your site will go down, unless you’re covered by a professional website hosting company. Power supply doesn’t matter when you’ve got backup generators.

2. A super sweet Internet connection

As we mentioned earlier, if a lot of people are attempting to access your website at once, you’ll need a server with a fast enough Internet connection to withstand it. Website hosting companies provide space on their fast servers for your site.

3. Space

Depending on the package you choose from the company, there isn’t a limit to how many pages your site can have or number of photos or files you can store. This is important to remember if you want a website redesign with flashy videos and cutting edge animation. That takes up space somewhere!

 

Website Hosting Basics

4. Hardware maintenance

Get some peace of mind knowing that, if your website is hosted by professionals, that they’re taking care of all that metal and machinery that’s working to keep your website up and running.

5. Customer support

If our Alien reference above was a bit vague, we’ll repeat again: the technicalities behind website design are hard! There’s a lot of industry jargon, and if you don’t understand something about the way your website is stored, or are wondering about its capabilities, it’s nice to have a company to call.

 

Website Hosting Basics

 

Going Live in Five: what happens to your website post-launch?

More than just a pretty face 

It’s been a long road with many revisions and different opinions, but your website redesign is finally complete! The site has been tested, every button pressed and each inner page shows your successes and opportunity as a company. You’re ready to send your new website spiralling out onto the internet for the whole world to see. You lean back in your chair and wipe your sweaty brow, triumphant. All the work is done, right?

Well…

If you haven’t already guessed by this week’s title, there’s a lot more that happens to a website once it’s been taken live, especially for a public company. Andrée Emond, who leads our updates team, says it best when she describes a website as ‘a living document’. Once the site goes up, you’re anything but finished. Luckily for your company, there are many agencies out there who offer post-launch support teams. This week, we’re teaching you about those teams and why it’s so vital for public companies to work with an agency that offers this long-term website help.

What exactly does a website post-launch support team do?

Obviously, it varies from company to company. Our post-launch support team (aka the ‘updates team’ or ‘badass updates superheroes’) has a myriad of different responsibilities each day, especially since we cater to public companies. (Our updates team are masters of email dissemination, news releases, and are always checking the wire to see what’s crossing). In the most general terms, however, post-launch support is there to make sure that anything that goes wrong after a website launch gets fixed swiftly and smoothly. Since a website is a living document, things happen all the time that need attention. Your content gets outdated, or maybe you’ve created a new investor presentation and want it featured prominently on your site. It can be a headache to figure out your own avenues to go about altering your website once it’s complete. This is especially the case if you’ve gone through an agency that gives you the website as a pretty package with a bow, but then leaves you to fend for yourself afterwards. We don’t do that at Blender, and instead stick with you in the long term.

Words from the masters

We sat down with our updates team leader Andrée Emond and Blender updates superhero Heather Seehagel to learn more about their role in the company and how they help our clients out each day. Andrée works out of Toronto and Heather out of Vancouver, so all the bases (and timezones) are covered.

Why is post-launch support so important for public companies to have? 

A: The role of the support team is to maintain the relationship with the client, while meeting their needs in a reasonable and timely manner. Their website is a living document, and attention to the content is what’s most important to clients once the site has launched. Making sure the content is always being maintained is what really matters. When it comes to working with public companies, our team is there to help them meet every need of the Securities and Exchanges Commission. We respond quickly to requests to post and/or disseminate news releases, financial reports, changes in management/directors and share information. We also ensure clients websites maintain a consistent look and feel. 

H: Websites are never finished, particularly for our clients where content is always changing. Public companies require new financials to be posted, share structures to be up to date, and the latest news releases visible to the public. An updates team is crucial to help publicly traded companies function properly. Even small and/or private companies can benefit from post-website launch support to keep their information, product catalogues, etc. up to date to better serve their client base. 

What does a typical day of a Blender updates team-member look like?

A: Every day there is something new. My day usually starts at 7:00 AM (EST) to check in on the news releases that were prepared the day before. For the next hour, those prepared news releases are published and disseminated throughout a company’s email list. At 8:00 AM I start checking the tickets for the day. I see what needs to be dealt with either from the day before, and I prioritize what needs to be done ASAP versus later in the afternoon. Once all news releases are sent out, we do many different things. From updating client websites, to fixing email problems, setting up DNS records, to tracking list management for all our clients. 

H: My position requires a lot of prioritizing and streamlining of requests. Updates goes through our ticketing system to go to work on the current open ticket. When that’s done, we are on to the next one. It’s best to do this while uber caffeinated and listening to some amped up tunes. Some requests only require small amounts of adjustment of HTML, while others are a little more complex and require changes to the site’s templates. However, our most important priority on updates are news releases, as they are the most time and information sensitive. 

 

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

A:The internet is constantly changing. Browser compatibility, changes to 3rd party systems and breakdowns cause us to make changes to existing sites repeatedly over time. There are even times where links that may work on our staging sites will not work after they are launched. This is why a post-lauch website quality assurance check (or Q&A) is so important. 

H: The most challenging part are those super busy days where you are inundated with requests and the phone is ringing off the hook. I can’t stress enough the importance of caffeine on days like these, as I have to be in full multi-tasking mode without sacrificing accuracy and attention to detail.

 

Any final thoughts?

A: It’s important for our clients and community to know that our department is very much involved in teaching. We train our clients how to use our system with our updates guide, etc. and help them figure out how to best provide information to us at Blender so all parties can work efficiently. We start by teaching each new client about our own Blender CMS (content management system) and how to send in their updates in specific formats, in advance of their deadline. In most cases, this ensures the ongoing process goes smoothly, with minimal stress.

H: Timeliness is crucial. Our clients often have sensitive information that has to be released at a specific time. In these situations, it is important that the client is able to look over the content and approve it prior to its release. Therefore, we must deliver within a time frame that allows us to make revisions if we have to. Our client centred approach at Blender really makes a difference and is what makes my job so rewarding. 

 

In summary:

Remember to think past that moment when your website goes live for the world to see. Nobody wants their website to stay the same forever, especially a public company. For those public companies, so much information must be updated frequently. Have a plan for when your site needs to be updated, if it’s not something your company can do themselves.

 

Now, time for the shameless plug: our post-launch support is pretty kick-ass. Drop us a line at info@blendermedia.com at any time and we can make your website’s adolescent phase a breeze.