Frequently Asked Questions about Web Development

Web Development

Computer engineers, programmers, developers, coders, code monkeys – by whatever term you know them, web development professionals are the backbone of the web. Likewise, our team of developers is the backbone of many projects, especially website design/redesign and custom campaigns we’ve launched for clients over the years. When prospects reach out to us about web development and launching new websites, these are the website- and IT-related questions we hear the most.

Does my site need to be updated to HTTPS instead of HTTP?

Yes!

In 2018, there is no reason – no good excuse – not to upgrade any site to HTTPS by acquiring an SSL certificate. Starting in August 2018, the most popular web browser on the planet, Google Chrome, will give a big red warning to your visitors if your site is not fully secure. Firefox is already doing this, and Microsoft’s Edge and Apple’s Safari are sure to follow. So make sure you get an SSL certificate and keep it up to date. This will protect your content from being covertly altered and prevent your customers’ information from being monitored or stolen.

There are dozens more reasons why HTTPS is vital for your website and business. Learn more on our blog about updating your site to SSL.

How long does a website redesign take?

Depending on the size, complexity and, most critically, the client’s active involvement in the process, a website takes anywhere between six and 24 weeks to build and launch. Some incredibly large projects have broken the year mark.

We have the team of developers and web designers, as well as the project management processes, in place to build and deliver the most friendly, accessible and speed-optimized websites available.

The process is highly collaborative, so build times can vary based on how quickly clients are able to respond to questions or approve portions of the site that inform other parts. Since we adjust and readjust to achieve the best UX and the best representation of our clients’ vision, delays are natural as we process feedback and get sites just right.

We want your site to succeed, and we are experts at doing that. Clients know their business and their customers, and we know marketing and design – when everybody sticks to their strengths and works together, we all win.

What happens if my site breaks?

We’re always here to help! We can cover emergencies and non-emergencies alike. Just be sure to give us as many details as possible about the problem: the browser you were using when you noticed the problem, your computer’s operating system, time of day, what actions you were performing, what device you were using when you saw the problem, etc.

Additionally, we can provide a maintenance agreement to help prevent many common site crashes from ever happening in the first place. That way, problems are minimized, and you can have peace of mind knowing that when problems do occur, you’re covered! (Learn more below.)

What is the difference between my CMS, DNS, hosting, FTP, etc.?

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So many acronyms. You practically have to be an expert in website development just to talk about web development. Let’s break down a few of the common terms:

CMS: Short for “Content Management System,” this is the platform you use to administrate and edit the content on your website. There are many different software solutions that bear this name. Though we prefer WordPress and are wizards on this platform, we also work with Drupal, Magento, Joomla, Sitecore and any number of others.

Hosting: All websites live on computers somewhere. A hosting service is a company that has computers built especially for storing and accessing websites. These types of computers are often referred to as “web servers.” Hosting companies give clients a username and password so they can access things like billing and contact information, make technology updates, control the websites on the account, and so on. Some common examples of hosting companies are GoDaddy, DreamHost, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and WP Engine.

There are specialized forms of hosting you also might be curious about, including these:

  • Shared hosting: The most common form of webhosting. Your website will be stored on the same computer as dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other websites. This is usually the cheapest option, and for websites that receive a low number of visitors, it’s often adequate. But the main risk of shared hosting is that if another website on the same server as yours receives a lot of traffic, or even is being attacked, your site will suffer as well.
  • Dedicated hosting: Dedicated hosting solves the problems inherent to shared hosting by giving your website the entire computer, with no other websites or customers being hosted on it. There are security and privacy reasons for using dedicated hosting, but resource management requirements are the most common reason for making this choice.
  • VPS hosting: This is a form of hosting that’s becoming more popular recently for its low cost and expanded benefits. It’s sort of a middle ground between dedicated and shared hosting. A VPS (or “virtual private server”) is like having dedicated hosting because you receive a dedicated amount of computing resources and can have complete control over the server software – but the VPS is not actually a physical computer your website lives on. Instead, the VPS is a “virtual” server, which is hard to describe without intimate knowledge of hardware virtualization, but think of it like renting an apartment. Your website lives in the apartment all by itself. It has complete control over the apartment, it watches whatever TV it wants, turns the lights on or off, and nobody is going to complain. (Shared hosting is like your website living in the same apartment as many other websites. And dedicated hosting is like your website owning the whole building.) The advantage of a VPS is that all your neighbors have the same limits you do. What they do is not going to affect you, because there are walls between to prevent that. And it’s much less expensive than a dedicated solution.
  • Cloud hosting: This is truly just a made-up buzzword. We’ve seen it applied to both VPS and shared hosting situations – it really doesn’t mean anything. Your website still lives on a computer somewhere in the world, possibly multiple computers, and may or may not be living with other websites.

FTP and SFTP: FTP (short for “file transfer protocol”) is a technology that allows us to communicate with the server (or big fancy computer) on which your website is stored (or “hosted”). Since we need a way to transfer and manage the files on that computer, FTP handles that.

SFTP is basically the same thing, but it uses certain technologies to secure the file transfers. FTP is to SFTP as HTTP is to HTTPS. If we ask for FTP or SFTP credentials, usually we’re asking for 1) a hostname, 2) a username and (3) a password.

DNS: Now we’re really in the weeds. Remember how all websites live on computers somewhere? Each of those computers has a numerical address assigned called an “IP” – even the smartphone or computer you’re using to read this has an IP address. You can visit many websites by typing this number into the browser, but numerical addresses are really hard to remember. Do you really want to type 172.217.6.14 every time you visit Google? Without DNS, you’d have to!

DNS (short for “Domain Name System”) translates domain names (like www.google.com) into those numbers so your website has an easy-to-remember name that humans can use. Because oftentimes, during a redesign, we move the website to a new web host (or server), we might ask the client for access to their DNS so we can direct the domain name to a different address. Visitors may never know that anything changed except that they’re now looking at a beautiful new website. That’s because DNS handled the change of address. Neat, huh?

Registrar: The registrar is where you bought your domain name. Because many companies provide both DNS and domain registration, the difference between them can start to get confusing, but essentially, a registrar is just a company that has a certain amount of control over something called a “top level domain” (TLD) like .com, .net, .org, .coop, and so on, and resells names with this TLD. Common registrars include GoDaddy, Namecheap, and Network Solutions.

We might ask for access to your registrar if the DNS is impossible to access and we need to transfer your site hosting. We’ll use the registrar to point your domain to a different DNS service like Cloudflare, where we can make sure the domain name points to your new website host.

CDN: Short for “content delivery network,” a CDN is a collection of computers living in different places around the world that will take the static files on your website (like pictures, video, or other media and downloads) and store them on their network of servers around the world. When someone visits your website, instead of downloading a file directly from your web host, they’ll download images or files from the geographically closest computer in the CDN. This has the effect of not only speeding up your website load time but preventing a large amount of traffic from taking your website down.

Can you handle ongoing maintenance?

Yes! In fact, if we built your website, we’d really love to handle maintenance. We’re going to be the party most intimately familiar with how your website works, and are going to be on top of upgrades and patches to keep the site in top shape.

A maintenance plan can include CMS upgrades, hosting management, content updates, security monitoring and many other technical and editorial services.

Reach out to us to learn more about Web Development for your brand

For web development services backed by experience and built to your brand’s specifications and ROI goals, consider working with Oneupweb. Explore our website development services to learn how we can help with your development needs, or contact us today.