- What if I have my own website and/or hosting?
- What can the ordinary person expect to edit themselves in WordPress?
- What support do I need?
What if I have my own website and/or hosting?
We can use what you already have if it makes sense to do so. We will need to get full access to your hosting account.
The access we need is to the “cpanel” part of your hosting account. This access is not commonly used by clients, so read on to understand what we need from you.
Hosting Account Access
Your website runs on someone else’s computers. Companies such as GoDaddy and Crazy Domains are typical budget companies offering hosting. You typically pay for this hosting service annually. You should have an invoice with contact details.
Your cpanel is accessed online with a username and password. It is these details that we need.
If you do not know these details you will need to contact your hosting provider, provide authentication, and get your password reset. Some companies have an online password recovery service to do this for you.
If you do not have a website, or are already using our hosting, you do not need to worry about any of the above. We take care of all of it for you.
What can the ordinary person expect to change themselves in WordPress?
If you have familiarity with Microsoft Word you can make many simple changes to your website content yourself. If you have the time, and are a frequent user, there is no reason you cannot learn how to modify everything and anything within WordPress.
For most people it makes sense to learn and use the basics of editing pages and blogs, More advanced changes have a larger learning curve, and often involve some programming (commonly CSS, PHP) and some knowledge of the working of WordPress. We recommend you consider learning the basics, and leave the advanced stuff to us as we’re much quicker at it.
Read on for a more detailed explanation.
Modifying or changing existing text (in either a blog entry or a static page) is the easiest change you can make yourself. A little introductory training will have you logging on, selecting the right page and modifying text in no time.
Creating a new page or blog is the next step. This is almost as easy.
Adding images to existing or new pages/blogs is also something you can do yourself with a little training.
Once done, to get your new page or blog noticed by Google etc you need some basic knowledge of SEO (search engine optimisation). Things like the page title, url, headings and so on are important and can make a big difference to if or how your page is found by search engines (and hence people). This is not difficult, but you could not reasonably be expected to understand what’s required without studying the concepts of on site SEO.
Formatting different page layouts, adding customisations such as colours, font sizes or other features that do not appear automatically is best left to us. Although not difficult, there is a right and a wrong way of making such changes.
For example, changing a heading from black to blue is something you can do yourself in the WordPress editor. But that change will only apply to one heading on one page. You must repeat it for each heading, and again each time you change your mind. Far better to have us change a single line of code to affect all pages, or just those that you choose.
You can add functionality to wordpress (eg a new facebook feed), and often there is existing free or paid software (plug-ins) that will do this. However some research time is required as not all software works well, is well supported or well written. Sometimes you can’t find exactly what you want, but often a simple code change to a plug-in will do the trick.
Lastly not all pages are accessible through the standard WordPress editor. Many custom pages are made up of “widgets” or other features. While not difficult to use, they often require knowledge of HTML and other code. This usually has no validation or backout, so an accidental erroneous change may not be immediately noticed, and may be time consuming to track and rectify.
Our recommendation is to allow us to give you the basic skills to make simple text and image changes or additions to your website. We recommend you then allow us to apply some of the above to what you have done to make sure it’s effective.
The reasonable fear many people have is their web designer will charge exorbitant rates for making any such changes.
While there are many web designers will take this opportunity, we believe in being open and honest. Many of the above are simple changes, typically taking only 15 to 30 minutes each. By pre-purchasing support and development hours, you avoid the overhead of quoting and invoicing and you pay only for the time it takes. This is almost certainly less than the cost of your time to learn how and to apply more advanced changes.
It is also worth noting many features that do require some specialised knowledge are deliberately not accessible by our clients. Rather than being to prevent you from making changes yourself, this is done to protect you from making inadvertent erroneous changes (for example to a widget or page template) that are costly for you to later have identified and fixed.
Ask us for more detail on the best and most economical way for you to maintain your own site content.
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What support do I need?
Support for Software updates
It’s important to realise your website needs to be kept up to date.
Perhaps the easiest analogy is keeping your windows PC up to date. Eventually Windows XP no longer works in the real world, your old Internet Explorer browser doesn’t display pages correctly, and your PC is vulnerable to lots of viruses.
In the same way, your website needs to be kept up to date.
Search engines, such as Google, publish guidelines on good website design. These change with time, and failure to keep up can affect your website rankings in searches.
Support for your website content
Your website represents your business. It’s important to monitor how well it’s working for you.
As a minimum you should periodically be reviewing who is visiting your site and making sure your statistics are valid (eg minimise referral spam)
Are they your target audience (eg are they from overseas but your service is local)?
What they were searching for?
Did they find it?
How long did they stay?
What pages are popular, and which aren’t?
From there you should be changing and improving your site to attract more visitors and turn them into clients. Even low turnover businesses can make profitable use of these techniques.
You should also consider if and how you will be keeping your website content fresh (important in the eyes of both Google and humans).
Using WordPress, you can add and enhance your own pages. Depending on the look or effect you want, doing so often requires some technical skills. It isn’t uncommon to get stuck when changes do not behave as you would expect.
A competent technical person can usually find the answers with some research and study. Only you can decide if you have both the time and the skills to do this. However you should question the value of learning skills that you may never use again, or at best infrequently.
You may decide to “go it alone” with the option of finding someone to help you if you get stuck or run out of time. But remember any competent web designer will necessarily charge a premium to pick up someone else’s work and agree to help resolve your issue. They need to do this to cover the risk of the unknown.
The No Support Option
You can pay your own hosting fees, and just leave your site running. However, as I explained, you will eventually need to update your website.
If the site has a problem you will need to deal with the hosting company directly. If the problem involves WordPress or your website software, which is more likely, the hosting company will not help you.
You will need to be or become proficient in the necessary skills to diagnose and fix any website issues.
Your site can be configured to update automatically, or you can manually apply new software releases. However it isn’t uncommon for new software to function differently, to clash with another module, to have bugs or otherwise cause your site to malfunction. Ideally you should test any new software releases first.
If you opt not to apply any updates, and to perform no enhancements or additions to your website, your site will become increasingly outdated. It may eventually even stop working or become unusable, in the same way as my Windows XP example earlier.
An outdated website (slow, bad layout, parts not weorking etc) is bad for business. People will go elsewhere.
An outdated website also makes a prime target for hackers. Surprisingly hackers are not interested in your website as such (ie it does not matter if you are selling shoes or reviewing books). They only want your web host from which to launch hacking attacks or distribute virus’.
Many businesses who choose this option regardless eventually throw away their website and start again when it becomes too outdated. In the meantime they often need to find help and pay a premium for assistance if their site goes down and cannot be recovered.
You also need to monitor your own website statistics and manage referral spam yourself. You will need to be able to interpret the statistics and make decisions on the right place to take action and spend time/money to improve visitor retention (how long they stay) and conversion (how many become clients).
If you host with us we include some basic support.
- availability monitoring.
- resolving hosting platform issues.
- minor updates.
This basic level of support ensures your site keeps running and that you do not need to be aware of any of the technical details.
You may already have your own host. We can also look after that for you using the support hours option below. However many budget hosting companies are extremely time consuming to deal with (eg long phone hold times, staff that are not knowledgeable, inability to resolve issues).
Rather than using your support hours in this way, it is usually more economical to move to our hosting platform.
We recommend this option for all our clients. By purchasing a pre-paid block of hours, you can have a variety of routine work performed with little overhead (ie no quote, specification, contingency etc.). You pay only for the time needed to work on your website. Unless your website is only a short term objective, purchasing a block of support hours is by far the most economical way to keep your website updated.
This can include:
- Major upgrades.
- New pages or changes to existing pages.
- Other general updates.
- Maintenance of Google Analytics statistics, which otherwise become obscured with (referral) spam.
- Help creating or editing your own pages.
- Hosting support if you use another provider.
- Minor functional enhancements (eg add a facebook feed).
Rather than let your website get slowly out of date, or use your valuable time learning how to test, update and rectify problems, or searching for a website developer to help you out when you get stuck – we recommend the pre-purchase of support hours.
For medium or larger pieces of work it is beneficial for both parties to have a fully scoped piece of work. The additional overheads become far less significant for these larger pieces of work.