Many of our clients are startup or small businesses who need help. They have never had a website designed before and ask how do I set one up. They have no idea what website hosting is or what it involves to set up a website and if you’re a non techie person it can be confusing.
Not realising what hosting and domain names are, we do our best to explain how websites work and they can make a website, without getting too technical. We have a simple analogy to explain it. We compare a website to a real world business.
How websites works
A website is basically a bunch of files filled with code which either generates or pulls in the text, images and layout to form your website. Thats how you make a website but like any file that you create on your computer it has to be stored somewhere to be found, so website files are stored by a website hosting company which is basically a big computer thats connected to the internet 24/7. These big computers are made up of smaller computers otherwise know as servers which is where your website design are stored.
You’re essentially buying chunks of space on a huge computer to store your website files so it can be accessed anytime, online.
The website design may have been created and stored but they need to be accessible for everyone to find them?
Webspace, servers and hosts all have addresses but being a digital format, those address are made up digitally via a string of numbers.
This is not so easy to remember so in order to be publicly viewable and easily found you need an address known as a domain name. This address is composed of letters instead and is specifically linked to your space and files on your server.
Hopefully thats simple enough to understand but to make its simpler to understand lets compare it to something we can all relate to…..
Think of your business as your website.
You, your staff, equipment, staplers, chairs etc are the assets which make your startup business. Think of each asset as a file of code.
These files of code compose your WebPages and ultimately your website design just like your assets do for your business.
Your Office is your Server
Your startup business needs an office to store your assets and operate from.
Think of the server as your office. The server is holding all your web and digital assets together in one place.
Your Address is your Domain
How do people find your office? They use an address. In the real world your address is the unique identifier which relates to your office. In the same way a domain name is used to find your website by connecting the public to your server and website files.
Your Town is your Host
If that’s the case then your host could be seen as the town that your business resides in.
A Shared server is an Office Block:
A real office building may hold more then one business inside in individual offices. Likewise so may a server hold one or many websites.
This could be seen as a shared server.
A Dedicated server is your own Office Block:
Some businesses don’t share their office space and use the whole building solely for their business.
This can be seen as a dedicated host.
Moving Premises or Moving Servers:
As a business you can move office just like you can do with your hosting service and whilst your digital address eg. 82.197.393 will change your domain name eg.conceptstore.co.uk can come with you to your new premises.
Business Growth And Server Space:
What if your business gets bigger and you hire more people or aquire more assets? If so you may need a little more space in the office. The same goes for a website, the more files you have, the more space you need on your server.
FTP is a Keyholder:
You may have heard of the FTP but are not quite sure what it is? Think of it as different keys given out to your staff to get into the back office/warehouse. Like a key holder! FTP allows you, given the right login details to access your server via the back door (an FTP program).
Email is your own Postman:
The use of a domain name gives you the ability to set up your own email address.
Think of this as your own personal branded postman but unfortunately a delivery man alone is not much good. You also also need a warehouse and delivery van to send and receive mail.
Your host will supply a warehouse for your mail in the form of space on your server and a delivery van with the likes of Horde Mail or Roundcube.
Alternatively you can get your mail warehouse and delivery van elsewhere with the likes of Outlook, hotmail or gmail which serve like public and private delivery services such as Royalmail and UPS or private couriers.
Mobile Site is your Salesman
There use to be 2 different ways of building a mobile site.
1. Create a dedicated mobile site separate to the main site
2. Create a responsive site that adapts the main site
Method 2 quickly became the popular option as it strips away the non essentials to give a mobile user the most important things that they need on their mobile based on the content formed on the main site.
If the main site is composed of your business assets in your office then think of a mobile site as your salesman going out to a meeting taking with them only the bare essentials to make the sale.
All of the above may sound like a mouthful when written down but it’s a good way of explaining it to a non techie person who is actually plugged into the real world rather then the Matrix.
I hope this helps and business, big or small, start up or established to undertsand how a website works and how you can make your own website.
Need help setting up a website? Get in touch.