Having been in the business for quite a few years, I know there are very few things people like to do less than talking tech with their web guy. Maybe going to the dentist. People feel intimidated or uncomfortable talking with people that are perceived experts in an area that they, themselves, may not have a great understanding of. Just remember that your website guy or hosting company is made up of people too. They just happen to have gone to school for or have experience in technology and the Internet. I wouldn’t build my own house by hand. I would hire an architect and a construction crew to do that. Just like you wouldn’t build your own website. You would hire people like us to do that for you.
That said, I still need to be able to speak with the architect about how many rooms I need and ultimately how the house looks once it’s done. Here are a few terms that come up a lot with our clients. The closer we are to being on the same page the easier and faster the whole process will be.
There are 3 basic parts to a dynamic website like WordPress sites. The files, database, and domain. The files are just what you think. These are the scripts, images, pdfs, etc that make your site look the way it does. The database is a repository of information. It contains your posts, categories, users, form submissions, etc… Your domain is your .com or .net. Depending on the hosting company you choose, they may take care of your domain and files/database or just one of those 2 things. At Kicks, we only host our client’s files and database. Your domain stays in the place you bought it. GoDaddy.com, Domains.com, etc… This way you still have full control over it. We then login on your behalf and make adjustments. Essentially we point your domain at your new files. What that means is our services work in conjunction with providers like GoDaddy. So our clients need to have both providers to use our services.
Your registrar is the website you go to to buy your domain. However, if your domain has bounced around it may not be there anymore. So when we say ‘registrar’ what I really mean is your nameserver provider. That provider stores a file that your domain uses to process different actions. Among other things, that file creates the www for your domain and gives you the ability to have an email address from email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. A great resource for viewing information about your domain is who.is. Type in your domain name and you’ll be able to see all the public information available. With that, you can see your nameserver provider. Here is ours: http://who.is/dns/kicksdigitalmarketing.com. The URLs can look confusing but they will contain clues about your provider. We host our domain with Amazon Web Services, so you can see the “AWS” and “DNS” right in the URL.
This isn’t a phrase I hear from our clients a lot but it’s something that comes up from time to time. Speed is the name of the game on the Internet. A slow website or app can instantly turn off a consumer, no matter how good the end product may be. If I have to wait more than 2 seconds for a page or tab to load I’m frustrated. That’s where caching comes in. There are many different “layers” of caching but I’ll focus on two. The first is local caching. This is when your computer or phone keeps a copy of a web page, image, video, etc… What’s the fastest way to get from point A and point B? A straight line? Nope. The fastest way is if point A and point B are actually the same points. Someone really smart figured out that instead of having you download the same image over and over again every time you go to a website it would be faster if the images you’re seeing are actually on your computer or phone. This cuts down the load time of a website tremendously. One issue with this is that if an image or file needs to be updated you’ll need to delete those stored files and redownload so you have the latest version.
Local caching is something your computer or phone does out of the box. The second type of caching is something your hosting provider should do for you. When your website is dynamic like WordPress sites they have to interact with a database. This exchange can be time-consuming. We use an in-house plugin to “flat cache” our websites. Most of our client’s websites don’t change very often. Especially contact pages and things of that nature. Instead of calling the database when you go to the contact page every time, the first time we go to that page we save the output into a static good ole fashion HTML file and then use that on every additional call. So it may be a bit slower the first go around but every other user that goes to that page will now see the HTML file instead of calling to the database. This process will keep your site fast and your web guys and gals happy. If your site isn’t leveraging some kind of caching you need to talk to your tech guy or talk to us. The Internet will be a happier and faster place if we all do some caching.
You may not have to talk tech very often but when you do I hope these few explanations can make the experience a little bit better for you and your tech guy or gal.