Ep 6 Website Launch

Daniel: Welcome back to Web6 this season we were talking about how to navigate the website project process. I’m Daniel Cowen.

Chris: And I’m Chris Lafay.

Daniel: And today we’re going to be talking about getting your site launched.

Website Hosting

Chris: And so one of the first things I really want to go over is a quick metaphor of how all this domain and hosting thing works. And so the way I like to talk about it is your cell phone, the physical device, you know it’s the computer that runs your phone, right? It’s like you’re hosting. You’re hosting is where all your website files are stored and where everything runs from. Just like your phone, you have your Facebook app, your contacts app, etc. On it. But then you still need a phone number in order to have this physical device that’s in your hand ring. And so that phone number is with Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, whoever it is. And, whenever somebody dials that phone number, they have all this stuff that works that actually makes it ring your physical device.

Daniel: Yeah. So your domain name, which it’d be like whatever.com is like a phone number and it helps people get connected from wherever they are to your actual website. So, I even like to think about it like this is a lot of times you have to pay for hosting on a regular basis. Whether that’s going to be, whether you are gonna be managing it or whether your developer is going to be managing it. You got to pay for regular hosting because you don’t own the computer that stores your website. You don’t own that. You’ve got to pay someone to use it. So I kind of even liken it to sort of like having a phone plan where you’re paying your $30 a month for your to pay for your iPhone X. That costs like $1,200 you know, rather than you owning the computer that your website is stored on.

Chris: And you have a lot of different, you have a lot of choices of where to host your site. And a lot of development companies, myself and Daniel included, we do hosting ourselves, too. Now, that doesn’t mean that we have servers sitting in our offices running these sites. We partner with other companies that have all this stuff down-pat for us.

Website Back-up

Chris: And, so the one thing you want to make sure that you do, if your web development company is going to host your website for you, you want to try to see if you can get a copy of your website when that site goes live because you want to make sure that just in case something bad happens between you and that development or design company, you have a fallback.

Daniel: Yeah, backup.

Chris: And that’s one of the things that we do. Whenever the website is done and the website’s live, we send a zip file that has every single file in it to the customer so that they have a backup themselves that they can do whatever they want to with.

Daniel: You may not, I don’t know what to do with that, but you’re next. If you had to have another developer you know, they would know how to take that zip file and expand it and, and actually use it to put your site back up. Another great reason to have a backup is because sometimes a hosting provider has some type of failure or any kind of mistake that happens that caused your website to go down. It’s great to have a record of that. So one of the things that that you should look for in a hosting provider is regular backups. So if you’re managing it, are your developers managing, I think that’s a huge benefit. What, even if you have to pay a couple extra dollars to have regular backups, that could be once a day, which I think is probably the standard or even a little bit less frequently than that. Maybe once a week or something would probably be the least I’d want to see, especially if you run e-commerce on your website.

Website Maintenance

Chris: And some hosts, not hosting companies, but some development companies, they offer maintenance packages.

Daniel: Right.

Chris: And, a lot of times those are not very well defined and especially a lot of small business owners that have not gone through these types of processes before. They get sucked into paying multiple hundreds of dollars a month, if not more than that for really no extra work that’s being done. And so one of the things you want to look for when you do host, if you’re going to host with the company that built your website, ask them what comes with that monthly fee that you’re going to, that they’re going to be paying.

Daniel: Try to understand it. There might be some technical aspects that take a few times of getting it explained to you. But again, this is an investment that you’re making. It’s really important to know what you’re getting. So if someone tells you they’re going to do updates to the site, make sure you know exactly what that means. Because I’ve had clients who thought that meant that whenever they want to change words on their website that that was covered in the maintenance package. And that’s usually not the case. Usually updates are to the software that runs behind the scenes that that will keep your site secure and up and running. So, whatever it is that’s written down, you make sure you understand what it means. And like I’ve said know several times throughout this series assume nothing.

Owning Your Domain Name

Chris: And with this whole like management process, if you’re going to let your web company do your hosting for you, another pitfall that I’ve seen a lot of our customers fall into is these companies are requiring the client to transfer their domain name over to them and now that company no longer owns their own domain name. And the way that I look at that is, you know Daniel, would you let me own your phone number?

Daniel: No, I wouldn’t want that.

Chris: No you don’t. You don’t. You don’t want to have that ever happen. Cause now what? What if I just like fall off the face of the earth now your, your phone number that all your 10,000 friends –

Daniel: Right.

Chris: You’re, you’re popular, right?

Daniel: Right.

Chris: That they have now just completely goes away.

Daniel: I just experienced that actually with a client of mine who has a nonprofit and they’re, they have a current website online. It’s outdated. It’s very bad. And their domain name, they have no access to. So they have no way to point their current domain at a new website that I’m building. So they have to just choose a new domain name to go with for their new website. So I think you hit on a great point is that it’s really important to own your own domain name and that’s something you should get set up as soon as you know what your name is going to and people experts can consult on with you on helping you choose the right domain. But as that relates to how to get your site launched, you need to have a domain and be able to access that DNS domain name servers for your website. You need to have hosting that’s going to be where your website’s going to live and you need to work out where you’re going to do that, whether you’re going to manage that part or whether your developer’s going to manage that part. Um, and then you need to be able to have access to the files. Now, I’m not suggesting that you as the client are going to be the one who would launch the actual site. I would hopefully your developers comfortable with actually launching this site. That should be part of what’s in the proposal, what’s in the contract, what you guys have communicated. Um, so can you think of anything else that that needs to be known, you know, by the client as a part of the website launch process?

How Long Before a Site is Live

Chris: Yes. There’s actually one other piece that is critical and that isn’t communicated a lot often is whenever a website is launched, and I’m not going to go into the technical details here, but sometimes it takes 24 to 48 hours for your domain name to be pointed to a new server. That DNS thing that we were talking about earlier, that takes some time and it’s called propagation. If you wanted to do a Google search on that, that change in your domain name of where it actually gets pointed has to call what’s called propagation through all the servers across the entire world. Now, the majority of times this takes less than an hour and this is nothing that your development company can control. This is just something that once you make the change, it takes time. I can say, I’ve been doing this for 15 years. I can count on two hands. The number of times this has taken 24 hours.

Daniel: Right.

Chris: Much less and much less so forty-eight.

Daniel: But it can be frustrating to the client to think your website’s going live tonight and you can’t access it for another two days. But it is just the reality of how the web works.

Chris: Exactly. And so that’s just one thing to take into consideration. And a lot of times, and part of the reason these things take awhile is not part of the reason why, but a reason why we’d like to do website launches in the evening is we have a few hours of time in the evening where customers really aren’t going to be looking at your site. And so that’s a very safe time to do this just in case it does go down for a little bit of time. So unless you’re starting up a new company and your site has never been live before, you can take it live whenever you’d like to in the middle of the day, that’s fine. But if you’re replacing an existing site –

Daniel: Right.

Chris: Chances are your development company is going to want to take that site live in the evening so your current customers are not affected at all.

Daniel: And so to kind of wrap up the web launch process after your site is live, it’s important to go back through again and do that quality assurance testing. So I know you did it already during the QA phase of your web project, but once the site is up and it’s actually being pointed to by your real domain, there are actual, there are actually things that could change or things that could break in that process. So you want to make sure that all the pages are pointing, that all the features are working, that you’re getting email notifications for certain things that like a form is supposed to be filled out and you’re supposed to get an email about it. You want to go back through after the site is live and really test again and, and, and don’t skip over that because it will, it, you know, it can come back and get you.

Chris: Exactly. Well, that wraps us up for this particular mini series. We hope that you have gained some valuable information, the insights of how this web development process works. If you have any questions about anything, Daniel and I would be more than happy to answer any of those questions for you, or if you have any ideas for other topics, please feel free to reach out and let us know.

Daniel: Absolutely. Thanks for listening.

Headshot of Chris LaFay

Chris LaFay

Chris's goal in life is to conduct connection and bring heart to every interaction in life. He puts humans above to-dos. He consistently brings the band back together, leveraging long-term relationships across a swathe of experience to empower career transitions, life event pivots, and, ultimately, an incredibly versatile, flexible, and creative team for his clients.