You don’t like tech, I get it. But if you own (or intend to own) a WordPress website there are a few website ‘tech ducks’ you must understand and get organised before you do anything else.
You have probably already subscribed to them, so I’m not here to tell you ‘which hosting is best’ or anything like that. I’m here to help you understand what you have bought and how to be more organised so you know where you bought your services from, where to get help and when to renew.
Being more organised! Sounds amazing! We can all do with being a bit more organised. If you are not organised when it comes to your web services it can really delay getting your website fixed when a problem occurs.
A client came to me when their site was experiencing errors. When debugging, I always need access to the website files so I always ask for the login to the hosting control panel.
On this occasion my client gave me details of an old account. Needless to say there was a lot of time wasted while we discussed passwords not working, possible alternative accounts etc until the penny dropped and my client remembered they had a different hosting provider.
I also can’t tell you the amount of times clients have been paying for email with their hosting account and not using it because they have email somewhere else.
So, this exercise will help you get your ‘tech ducks’ organised, understand what you are paying for, where to get help in an emergency and to organise your log in details.
This means you don’t find yourself paying for services you don’t need and when you need help you can get it quickly!
Also when there is a problem on your site and the person fixing it asks questions like ;
Who is hosting your website? Can I access your files?
Where are your DNS records managed?
You won’t have spend hours Googling or searching your emails! When you have a problem on your site, time is money! Errors can be costing you traffic, leads and sales.
So let’s get you more organised!
Here are the five ‘tech ducks’ you need to understand and manage even if you don’t manage your tech.
1. Domain name
What is a domain name? This is the readable name you give your website. My domain name for this website is weiderweb.com.
Where do you register a domain name? You need to register a domain name from a domain name registration company, aka a domain registrar.
How much do domain names cost? It depends. For a name that is not in demand, you can pay around £10 a year. It is possible to pay thousands for names that are in demand.
How long can you register a domain name for? You can register a domain for a number of years and you pay for them up front for the number of years you register it for. So you may register it for 1 year and pay for just 1 year. Or you might register it for 10 years, in which case you will pay upfront for 10 years.
What happens once a domain expires? Once the registration period has expired you must renew or or someone else can register it.
2. Web hosting
What is web hosting? This is the service that looks after your website files for you. The company you purchase web hosting from will store your files on a server (hard drive) for you.
The company hosting your website can also be called a hosting provider.
How much does web hosting cost? Again, it depends on the service level you require. Cheap hosting can be around £5 to £10 per month and it can go up to hundreds of pounds a month depending on what you need.
3. DNS management
What is DNS? DNS = Domain Name Service. This is the service that manage what files your domain name points to. Let’s imagine the situation where you have a website hosted on a hosting account from ‘cheaphosting.com’ and you have a new website built on more superior hosting from a company called ‘besthsoting.com’ but it’s not yet live.
How does a DNS record work? Currently when someone types your domain name in a browser, this will be translated to the IP address of the server at cheaphosting.com. This translation depend on the content of a specific DNS record. To make your new site live, you need to update that translation, or DNS record, so when someone types in your domain domain name in the browser they are shown the files stored on the server with besthosting.com.
Not only do they define where your files are kept but you can define where your emails are managed – microsoft360 server or google perhaps?
Where can I find my DNS records? They can found in several places, at your domain registrar account, at your hosting account or in your CDN account of you have one. If you don’t know what records you are using and where they are being managed ask the person who built your website, they will have set up the records for you so they will know. If you can’t contact them, I can help you decipher where they are! Just ask…
4. CDN – Content delivery network
What is a CDN? This is a network of servers that span the globe and they store your website files so they can be delivered from a location close to your website visitor so they can access your website faster. If you are using a CDN you need to know which one.
Who is hosting your email? Microsoft? Google? You need to know this because your developer will have to set DNS records for your email to work properly.
Be prepared to ask you email provider ‘how do I set up MX records’ and relay that information back to your web developer. They are likely to provide you with MX (email) record which need to be updated wherever you are managing your DNS records.
Organising activity – how to organise your web service provider information.
Ok, so now you know what essential services you have signed up for, it’s time to get organised!
I want you to create a tech stack table! This is going to be a table that contains details of all your tech services. It will grow as your business grows and you find yourself signing up to all sorts of services. I want you to create a table, preferable in Google Drive. This is so you wont lose it and you can share it with a web developer if they ever ask a question about the tech you are using.
In your table just write a list containing the following;
- Details of your domain name registrar.
- Your hosting provider
- Where your DNS records are being managed
- CDN details if you are using one
- EMail provider details
For each service note down who is the company managing it, how to get support with that service and your renewal dates. You could even put your renewal dates in your calendar and set a reminder so you don’t forget. If you forget to renew to hosting or domain you do run the risk of losing your website and your domain name.
Notice I haven’t included passwords here… This brings me nicely onto the important topic of…
I highly recommend you sign up to an only password storage service. The one I use is called PassPack, but there are others. Just do a Google search to find them. They all provide similar services so sign up for one and give it a try.
So, hopefully now you understand a little more about the web services you have bought. You should now also have a list of them you can refer to as and when you need to.
You should also have set up a Password tool.
Are you feeling more organised now? Let me know if the comments if this has helped you.
Once you have this basic step complete you can start to think about your WordPress maintenance tasks. Read my blog posts about what maintenance tasks you should do on a daily basis.