Good morning, good afternoon, good evening, whatever time it is, wherever and whenever you’re tuning in. My name is Ysmay and this is that podcast Ysmay Hosts.
Today’s episode is an archive from the Designerless Show. I wanted to talk about what a website actually is and why it’s important. And it occurred to me as I was sitting down to record this episode, I have a lot of content over from the Designerless Show that I can share here with you on this show. So, without further ado, here is what a website actually is from the Designerless Show.
There are so many misnomers and misconceptions out there, and a lot of people I end up talking to don’t exactly even know what a website is. They just have seen them all over the place for years. So your website is a collection of files that live on a server, and those files are rendered by your internet browser. Typically, although there are other ways, we access websites by entering a domain into the address bar in our internet browser. This is also referred to as a URL, a universal resource locator.
Now while you can run a website off a server in your home or your laptop even, sites are typically stored on a server provided by your hosting company. I personally use and recommend DreamHost. I use them of myself and all of my clients, and there’s a link to DreamHost in the show notes. And your hosting company is going to be responsible for making sure that your website is accessible. So if you were to put your website on your home computer, your laptop, you need to make sure that your computer is always on and always connected to the internet in order for people to access your website.
When you have your website hosted with a company like DreamHost, they’re doing that for you. So, at least where I live, I’m prone to having internet outages. We get these big storms in the summer. The internet goes down or I lose power, and if I were hosting my own website, nobody would be able to get to it. So your entire website will live on your server provided by your hosting company, so your code files and your database.
Now, nine times out of 10 I recommend you build your website on WordPress. I have one website, 42Yogis, which is on Joomla, but that’s because it’s a massive content-driven website with over 1,000 pieces of content, mostly yoga videos. At the time I built 42Yogis, I needed some really fine control over how users filtered the videos, and at the time I built this website, WordPress couldn’t handle that.
Now both WordPress and Joomla are content management systems, which means they allow you to run from a simple blog all the way up to a more complex membership website with a lot of different pieces of content. Now whichever you go with, your content management system or your CMS will install a set of files on your server, and it uses a database to store your content. So the reason this is so beneficial is because when you are doing a lot of content and you want to make a change to the way your website looks, with a content management system you can change the template and it changes the way your site looks across all of your pieces of content.
Now back in the day when I was building websites really, really early on, we didn’t have any of that. So if you were doing blogging, which was still very much in the early days back in the ’90s, and you wanted to change the way your website looked, you had to go into every single blog file, every single HTML page, and Alternatively, the code. It was so tedious, so time consuming, and this modern way of storing your content in a database and then changing the theme is so much more efficient. So whether you’re using Joomla or WordPress, DreamHost will allow you to install really quickly with just one click.
At this point, your head may be spinning from all of the technical jargon, and I do want to try to keep these episodes relatively short and not overwhelming because I don’t want you to get intimidated. So I’m going to wrap this up in a moment, but before I do let me put this into a metaphor that you may be more familiar with.
So your website is like your home on the web. Your hosting company is like the landlord or the real estate developer that gives you a piece of property to build your home on. WordPress or Joomla is the prebuilt house kit that gives you a basic frame to decorate and somewhere to put all of your stuff. Your domain is the street address that you type into Google Maps in order to get home or to give your friends directions on how to get over to your new place for your housewarming party.
So I hope that makes more sense. Usually my students when they hear this metaphor, they’re like, “Oh, I get it.”
I hope that makes sense. I hope when you think about your website in those terms and with that metaphor, you get it. This is the best way that I have found to describe this to my clients, to my students, and even just people that randomly ask me about websites.
I hope you found this back episode from the Designerless Show to be useful and to really help you get a better understanding of what your website is and isn’t. Thank you so much for tuning in That Podcast Ysmay Hosts, and I’ll see you next time.