In the first of our series on terminology, we'll deal with the terms that get used when discussing your website requirements with website developers and hosting companies. In the next article, we'll look at some of the technical terms for the building blocks of a website.
Put simply, the backend of a website is the database, software and various services that should be invisible to the user. If the backend processing is all working fine then the users should be able to browse, shop, pay for, track and receive their purchases whilst remaining blissfully unaware of what is happening behind the scenes.
This stands for Content Management System, the interface that allows the easy maintenance of a website, usually in terms of updating content such as news items, changing prices
and adding (or removing) products.
The snappy .com or .co.uk in your website address, such as craft-fair.co.uk or craftfocus.com, is the domain name. There are many types of domain name, some of them restricted to particular types of organisation (eg .ac.uk for academic institutions, .gov.uk for government bodies etc). Domain registrations come with an expiry date, typically 2 years after first registration for .co.uk domains and 1 year for .com, although many registration services will bill and renew automatically unless instructed otherwise. The most important ones from a UK business viewpoint are the .com and .co.uk domains - these are readily available to anyone that wants one, as long as no-one else has got there first?
To get a domain you need to register it through a domain registration service, or ask your website developer to do so on your behalf. If someone else is registering a domain for you it is worth making sure that they register it in your name as that makes any future transfer (or sale) of the domain more straightforward.
If your preferred domain name has already been registered by someone else you can always offer to buy it, as there is a thriving market in domains. Domain prices are influenced by factors such as how long a domain has been registered, whether there is a website associated with the domain and how specific the name is (for examples, bloggsphones.co.uk would be worth less than mobilephones.co.uk).
If you feel that someone has registered a domain that is directly related to your trading name (known as squatting) there is a process for resolving the situation but it's a good idea to seek specialist advice.
Most basic web pages are 'static' which means that they are the same for every user and the pages are stored on the server the way they will appear to users. With dynamic web pages each user sees a page that is generated on the fly as they request it. This means that the content and layout are independent of each other with the content being drawn from a database. This is ideal for websites which will need updating regularly (such as e-commerce sites) as only the database will need changing rather than every page featuring the changed information. It's also a very useful solution for large websites such as directories, as it allows them to store a few page layouts and then fill them from the database rather than having to have hundreds (or even thousands) of pages on the server.
Put simply, the hosting of a website involves providing space on a server and keeping that server connected to the Internet. The amount of space a site needs on the server and how much Internet traffic the site attracts have a major influence on how much hosting will cost. Other factors affecting hosting include the software requirements of the website: Does it need a database or specialist software requirements such as Coldfusion, PHP or Java? Companies providing hosting need to provide a resilient service so will have to consider issues such as auxiliary power supplies, data backups, software and server maintenance.
This is the actual, physical computer that serves (hence the name) the web pages, image files etc to any users that request them. When you're browsing a website the whole process should be completely invisible to you, but an unreliable or overloaded server will soon make itself apparent.
The next article will look at the components of a website, covering HTML, databases, software, Google Analytics and more.
Loud-n-Clear.com runs the Internet Craft Fair and specialises in websites for craft companies
Contact details: www.loud-n-clear.com> / firstname.lastname@example.org
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