Beginner’s Guide to Understanding Websites

Website Tech: The Basics

Website terminology can be a headache to understand, even for those who already have their own website. Here’s an overview to help you further your understanding of websites & their technology.

Domains

When you purchase a domain name, you’re buying a website address that allows users to view the content of your pages. 

Parts of the domain
Moz

Affordable options include Google Domains, GoDaddy and Namecheap; it’ll cost you around ten to thirty dollars annually.

Think of it like your website is a physical location for your business. Your domain is the address people visit to find your webpages. 

You can make your domain unique by choosing from a variety of top-level domains (TLDs) after your chosen name. For example, stefanijessica.com has a .com TLD, and showit.co has a .co TLD. 

I use Google Domains to purchase domains, which typically includes domain privacy. Signing up for this eliminates a lot of spam because the information you use to get your domain can be publically shared on a service called whois.net if you don’t opt for domain privacy. So do yourself a favor and always get domain privacy.

 

Tips for buying domains:

Keep it short and sweet, and avoid using abbreviations or alternative spellings of words as this can be confusing for customers. The domain should represent and sound like the brand, and be memorable. Awkward and ambiguous domain names should be avoided at all costs – just think of the unfortunate soul who registered ‘www.penisland.net’!

Don’t fall for WordPress’s free domain name – it will look like “www.yourdomainname.wordpress.com”. If you want to be taken seriously, you’ll need to get self-hosted WordPress and purchase your own domain.

Also, don’t forget about domain privacy protection (WhoisGuard protection). Normally, when you buy a domain, your personal info is published in the Whois directory. That’s a big no-no because anyone can get ahold of that data. From email spammers to hackers, they’ll all know how to contact you.

You can purchase this add-on to keep your contact info private once you register the domain. It will cost you around $10-$15 per year, but it’s a service you should definitely consider. Alternatively, you can pay a bit extra for your domain at Google domains and Whois protection is included at no extra cost.

Subdomains

Your domain is like the lobby of a brick and mortar shop, inviting visitors to come in and learn more about you. Pages are the rooms where they explore what you have to offer. A subdomain is a related shop attached to your main services, where you can sell resources or host a podcast. Subdomains are a great way to extend your services, creating an extra space for visitors to explore and purchase from. They open the door to a wealth of options, allowing you to get creative with how you present your business.

Email

There are 3 main choices when it comes to your business’ email.

    • personal email service (like Gmail)
    • business email purchased from G-Suite
    • IMAP email purchased from your website host

When it comes to email for business, there are three main options: personal, G-Suite business email, and IMAP from your website host. Sure, it may be convenient to use your personal email account, but it’s not the best choice. Investing in a professional business email (hello@yourbusinessname.com) looks more professional, trustworthy, and is cost-effective.

But what is IMAP? IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. It’s an email account stored on a server, like the one hosting your website. With this type of email, you can sync across all your devices. So if you delete an email on your phone, it will be removed from your computer instantly. G-Suite offers a similar type of synchronization, but with IMAP, you have the option to select which program manages your inbox.

Having a true business email looks more professional and trustworthy to prospective clients and customers. Plus, it’s probably the cheapest investment you’ll make, either monthly or once a year. So if you’re ready to take your business to the next level, investing in a business email is a great way to start.

Web Hosting

When it comes to creating a WordPress site, one of the most important decisions you’ll make is choosing the right web hosting. Hosting can range from $35 to $2,000 per month, so you can pick the plan that best suits your needs and budget.

WordPress has come a long way since it was first created as a simple blogging platform. Today, it serves as a powerful CMS used by enterprise-level websites such as The White House, jQuery, NGINX, The New York Times, and more. 

As of today, 19,922,280 live websites use WordPress.

 

Types of Hosting

Traditional website hosting is the most basic way to host a website. It involves renting space on a physical server – usually a computer – owned by a web hosting company. This server is connected to the internet, so your website can be accessed by anyone around the world.

Cloud hosting is a newer type of website hosting. It doesn’t involve renting physical space on a server. Instead, your website is stored in a “cloud” – a network of virtual servers – and accessed by visitors over the internet.

The main difference between traditional and cloud hosting is the way your website is stored and accessed. With traditional hosting, you rent space on a physical server and it’s all in one place. With cloud hosting, your website is hosted in multiple virtual servers, spread out across the internet. This is why cloud hosting is sometimes called “distributed hosting”.

Cloud hosting is usually more reliable and secure than traditional hosting, because it’s spread out across multiple servers. It also tends to be more scalable, meaning it can easily handle sudden increases in website traffic. However, cloud hosting is more expensive than traditional hosting.

To run a moderately-sized website or one that competes with Mashable or TechCrunch’s sites, you’ll need to factor in web hosting, a domain name, design and themes, plugins, ecommerce features, and your time. Let’s take a closer look at each cost.

DNS Settings

When it comes to Domain Name System (DNS) settings, they are only necessary in certain scenarios, such as using Gmail as a business email, connecting a domain to a website, redirecting traffic when changing the domain name, or routing other domains to the website. Moreover, they can be geted without any cost in many hosting companies, but if an Extended Validation SSL certificate is needed, the cost may range from $50 to $200 per year.

SSL Certificates

For robust website security, it is better to opt for a paid SSL instead of a free one. The cost for a basic SSL is around $50, while it may go up to $600 for more advanced certificates, such as a wildcard SSL. All in all, the cost for SSL certificates can be anywhere between $50 and $600 per year.

Backups

It is essential to make regular backups of your website to ensure you have a secure copy in the event of any unexpected disruptions. Whether you are using WordPress or a platform, it is easy to make sure you have the content and design saved as a file. Make sure to save your backups on an external hard drive for extra security. With the right preparation, you can rest easy knowing your website is safe and sound.

CPanel

CPanels are a user-friendly interface for website owners to manage and administer their websites. They are an important tool for running a website as they provide access to a range of features, such as:

    • Installing and managing web applications
    • Monitoring website performance
    • Managing databases
    • Backing up and restoring data
    • Setting up email accounts and managing email
    • Creating and managing FTP accounts
    • Managing security features such as SSL certificates
    • Setting up domain names
    • Installing and managing web analytics

CPanel is an invaluable tool for website owners, as it provides an easy-to-use, intuitive platform to control and manage all the features of a website. It is a powerful tool that allows users to easily and quickly manage their websites and make sure they are running smoothly.

File Manager

File Managers are an essential part of websites, allowing users to securely manage, store, and organize their digital files. They provide an easy way to access and maintain large collections of documents, photos, videos, and other digital content.

File Managers offer the following benefits and features:

    • Secure storage and organization of digital files
    • Easy to access and manage large collections of digital content
    • The ability to share digital files with other users
    • Automated backups of files and folders
    • Customizable security settings to protect digital files
    • Compression of digital files to save space and bandwidth
    • Automation of repetitive tasks such as renaming, moving, and deleting files
    • Easy uploading and downloading of large files.

CMS

A CMS, or Content Management System, is a type of software which allows users to easily create, edit, and manage content on their website or application. It is a great tool that enables users to quickly and easily create, edit, and manage content without needing to have any coding or technical knowledge. Common examples of CMSs include: 

  • Squarespace
  • Showit
  • WordPress
  • Joomla

 

Additional Costs: Themes & Plugins

To customize your WordPress website, you may want to consider using premium WordPress extensions. Here’s a summary of the two types available:

  • Themes – these decide the design structure of your site.
  • Plugins – these add new features to your site.

Depending on your budget and needs, you can use either free or paid extensions. While there are many great free options available, most users will benefit from investing in at least a few premium extensions, as they unlock more features and provide better support.

Themes

When choosing a WordPress theme for your website, there are several options available. The standard price for a premium WordPress theme is typically around $60, however you can find some cheaper and some more expensive options. 

You can search through the WordPress theme repository or look at third-party sites such as Template Monster, Envato Market and other reputable theme shops like Elegant Themes, ProteusThemes, ThemeIsle, MyThemeShop, Accesspressthemes, Premiumcoding and Tesla Themes.

For our WordPress built sites, we typically use Hello Elementor Theme, which is free. 

When selecting a theme, it’s important to make sure that it is mobile friendly as mobile commerce is becoming increasingly popular. Here is a list of what you should consider when selecting a WordPress theme:

  • The standard price for a premium WordPress theme is typically around $60, but you can find great free themes
  • Make sure the theme is mobile friendly
  • Consider the layout, features and subject that fit your vision for your website

 

Plugins

Plugins are pieces of software that a website can add to make it more functional or look better. They can help make a website more user-friendly by adding features like search bars or contact forms. They can also make a website look better by adding animations, graphics, or changing the way the text looks. Websites use plugins to make their page look and work better, so visitors have a better experience.

Plugins are the most variable cost of any WordPress website. You need one theme, but up to 20+ plugins. 

Ecommerce sites may need to spend hundreds or thousands on premium plugins to extend the core plugin.

For our strategic website builds we typically use the following plugin stack:

  • Elementor Pro
  • RankMath Pro
  • Crocoblock – JetPlugins
  • Mailchimp/Convertkit

 

When implementing plugins, it’s important to ensure that only necessary extensions are installed as fewer plugins leads to a faster website.

You can also consider having an in-house developer clean up the plugin code to better fit your website theme.

It is suggested to start at $100-200/year, but depending on the type of website you are creating, the cost can quickly exceed this amount.

Design

When it comes to choosing a theme for your WordPress website, there are a few options available. Depending on your industry and personal brand, you can find a premium WordPress theme at a standard price of ~$60. Alternatively, there are free WordPress themes available that may suit your business website needs.

For those not satisfied with any of the available WordPress themes, hiring a web developer to create a custom theme is an option. Depending on the developer and the complexity of the project, the price may range from $700 to $50,000. Additionally, you may find themes with higher prices in the range of ~$90 to $200+.

When considering the cost of a WordPress theme, it is important to keep in mind the cost of any future changes that may need to be made. Having in-house developers who are able to make such changes is essential in order to remain within budget and avoid the cost of hiring a web developer in the future.

 

Development

Creating a WordPress website can be a complex and time-consuming process that requires a range of skills and expertise. To ensure your website is built to the highest quality and meets all of your business needs, it’s important to factor in the cost of professional design and development.

In 2022, the average cost for a WordPress website ranges from $75 to $115,000, depending on the scope and complexity of the project. This includes the cost of design, development, hosting, and additional services such as SEO and maintenance.

Factors that influence the overall cost of a WordPress website include:

  • Number of pages
  • Number of plugins
  • Complexity of design
  • Hosting requirements
  • Security measures
  • Custom development and integrations
  • Additional services such as SEO and maintenance

By taking into account all of these factors, you can ensure that you get the most out of your investment and build a website that meets all of your business needs.

Ecommerce features

Creating an online store doesn’t have to be daunting. WordPress integrates with WooCommerce for free. Woocommerce is an all-in-one ecommerce solution plugin for WordPress websites.

Although Woocommerce is free, you may need several paid plugins to maximize functionality of your online store. 

Beginners Guide to Website Tech - Stefanie Morris Co

Marketing & Promotion

When it comes to marketing your website, there are plenty of options available to you. It’s important to create a budget and stick to it.

Creating a successful website requires more than just good design and content. To ensure your website is visible to your target audience, it is important to invest in marketing and promotion.

Here are some important facts to keep in mind when it comes to creating a marketing budget for your website:

– The average marketing spend for new businesses in 2021 was between $2500 and $12,000.

– The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends spending 7% to 8% of your gross revenue for marketing and advertising if you’re doing less than $5 million a year in sales and your net profit margin – after all expenses – is in the 10 percent to 12 percent range.

Rule of Thumb: 8% of your revenue/year

On-going Maintenance

WordPress website maintenance is an essential part of keeping your website up-to-date and running smoothly. Ongoing maintenance is key to ensure your site is secure, running efficiently, and providing an optimal user experience.

Most website owners prefer to outsource website maintenance because it can be a time-consuming and complicated task. Keeping a website up-to-date requires technical knowledge and specialized skills. 

Stefanie Morris Co offers website maintenance for all strategic website builds, so website owners can focus on other areas of their business. This service ensures that websites are running optimally and are secure from cyber threats. It also helps website owners stay up-to-date with the latest technologies, and make sure their website looks great and functions properly. Explore our website maintenance plans today. 

Here are some key steps to take when maintaining a WordPress site:

  • Regularly update WordPress core, plugins, and themes to ensure security and functionality.
  • Regularly backup your site to protect against data loss and to enable quick recovery in the event of a website crash.
  • Optimize your website’s performance by regularly running an analysis of your site’s speed and load times.
  • Monitor website uptime to ensure users can access your site when they need to.
  • Regularly scan your site for malware and other security vulnerabilities.
  • Monitor your site’s incoming traffic to identify areas of improvement.
  • Check and adjust your SEO settings to ensure your site is being found in search engine results.
  • Test your website’s content, forms, and other features to ensure they are working correctly.
  • Prune and archive old content to keep your site up-to-date and running efficiently.

By regularly performing these maintenance tasks, you can ensure your WordPress site is secure, running optimally, and providing an excellent user experience.

For an indepth look at website maintenance, and a free checklist, read our ‘Beginners Guide to Maintaining WordPress Websites’. 

wordpress maintenance freebie - Stefanie Morris Co

Budgeting for Your Website

Building a WordPress website can be a cost-effective endeavor, but it’s important to understand that the total cost relies on the functions and features you want your website to possess. 

Depending on your needs, you could spend anywhere from $566 to $52,817. Factors that determine the cost of a WordPress website include:

  • Website hosting
  • Domain name
  • Theme
  • Plugins
  • Ecommerce solution
  • Design & Development

 

When considering the cost of launching a WordPress website, it is important to remember that investing money in a website will directly reflect its capabilities. Investing in the right hosting, domain name, theme, plugins, ecommerce solution and extensions will ensure your website is capable of handling traffic, leads, opt-ins, conversions, and customers – just like some of the most powerful websites in the world. While it may be a financial commitment, it will be worth it in the end.

After the website is launched, it is important to maintain it with updates and improvements. This can involve adding new features and content, as well as fixing any problems that may arise. The website should also be monitored to make sure it is secure and running properly.

About The Author

Stefanie Morris

I’m a recovering wedding photographer turned Showit SEO expert & marketing consultant. 

Explore the blog to learn how to do keyword research, search engine optimization, and create blog content strategy to uplevel your marketing and drive leads.