All About Your Website

This knowledge-base is a repository of information for our clients regarding all aspects of website hosting and design with a goal of answering FAQ's and dispelling common myths.

Table of Contents

    Website Components

    There are three main components to be aware of in regards to your website. They are: Hosting, Website, Domain

    Hosting

    Website hosting is the service which HiTech Creative provides which keeps your website 'online' or accessible all over the world. If you want to have a website on the internet it must be hosted somewhere. Many clients find it helpful to think of this is terms of real estate. In this scenario, hosting is like a plot of land. In a real-world sense, Hi Tech Creative rents server space from high quality data centres. These data centres provide specialised servers which are designed for hosting website and provide additional benefits such as backup power redundancy and extremely strict on-site security systems so that physical access to the hardware is restricted.

    Website

    Using the real estate analogy.  If the hosting is the plot of land, the website is like your house. Just like a house, all websites are unique but also have similar features. They can be various sizes, have different arrangements or styles. Most modern websites use a CMS or Content Management System which allows users to 'login' to the website to make their own changes. The most popular CMS in the world is 'Wordpress'. This is an open source, powerful and highly customisable CMS. The vast majority of websites which HiTech Creative hosts uses this CMS.

    Domain

    If the 'hosting' is your plot of land and the 'website' is the house then the 'domain' is your street address. This is how people access your website. Just like in the real world if you want to visit someones house you need to know their address, on the internet if you want to visit someones website then you need to know the domain. Most domains we provide end in in .com or .com.au. These are known as the domain extension. An example of a domain is: johnsmowing.com.au.

    What about email?

    We recommend that you think of email as an independent service to your website. While it is true that the two can share a hosting environment. One is not contingent on the other. You do not need a website to have an email. The main question we get around email hosting is regarding custom email addresses. A custom email address would be if you have an email such as sales@johnsmowing.com.au. In order to have a custom email like this you DO require email hosting which we can provide as well. Alternative 'free' email services do exist such as gmail or yahoo. These services offset their costs through advertising and by sharing user data with advertisers to deliver targeted ads to its users.

    Free email hosting usually has more limited features and storage and lacks oversight/management features which businesses require for security and policy.

    Our Service

    This section explains the included features of our hosting services and how they differ to alternative or more budget providers

    Opening a support ticket

    If you require changes to the configuration of your hosting account or your website our team is available to assist. Hi Tech Creative operates a ticketing system to manage change requests from our clients. All jobs are entered into our ticketing system for tracking and are triaged based on criticality and notification date/time. Opening a ticket also ensures that your job will be instantly directed to the correct department for actioning. Opening a ticket will see that your request is seen to in the quickest timeframe. To open a ticket simply email us at helpdesk@hitechcreative.com.au.

    Why more expensive than X Host?

    We are often shown pricing, especially from some of the 'big name' hosting providers that provide WordPress hosting and asked why they are so much cheaper. The quick answer is that comparatively they aren't and it's unlikely you are comparing comparative products even-though they sound similar. Generally those packages are structured to be as cheap as possible and aren't practical unless you are very experienced with website hosting. In many case they have a lower price as they are simply a blank WordPress install and do not include:

    • Support or Local Support
    • WordPress Updates
    • Plugin Updates
    • SSL Certificates
    • Australian Hosting
    • Backups
    • Unlimited Bandwidth

    For most people these are all requisite inclusions for a website and the add-on price for these necessary inclusions is generally quite high. They also take advantage of introductory discounts which look cheap at first but are actually only valid if you sign up for long contracts of 5-10 years and the discount generally only applies for the first few months. Another thing to keep in mind is that these websites are often styled and branded to look Australian while the company, support and infrastructure is from Asia or the Middle East where hosting is often cheaper less reliable and slower.

    Using our real-estate analogy: Cheaper hosting is a bit like buying a house with no fencing, landscaping, paint and is missing the windows and doors. Technically its a house, but not really what you had in mind. At HiTech our hosting is a finished house, ready to move into with a security system and we maintain the house and cover all the maintenance of the property.

    One of the ways in which cheaper hosts also make money is by excluding items which are necessary then charging high prices for them as add-ons. Usually by the time the user realises they need this inclusion they just pay the money as they are already committed into a long contract via the introductory offer and end up paying more then intended initially. An example of this is SSL certificates which are required for a secure website and we provide for free. However, many hosts exclude these deliberately and charge hundreds of dollars in some cases per year after the user realises they need it.

    What is a managed service?

    All of our domain and website hosting services are 'managed services'. This means that our team handles the management associated with your domain or hosting as part of your fee. For website hosting this includes backups and software updates on both your hosting environment and website. For domains this includes SSL Certification and domain record changes. Our team is available to assist to provide changes to settings related to your web hosting environment or domain. You will speak to our team first hand via our ticketing system and all of our staff are located in NSW, Australia. We have offices staffed Monday - Friday. We do not outsource our support or use third party call centres like many hosts do.

    WordPress updates vs content/website updates?

    It is important to clarify that there is a distinction between 'WordPress' updates and 'content updates' 'WordPress updates' means that Hi Tech Creative will monitor your WordPress core software as well as the plugins that make up your website and keep them up to date as new versions come out. This is critical for maintaining security of your website online. Keep in mind that the vast majority of hosting providers do not include this service. Failing to keep your website software up to date is the main reason website are 'hacked'.

    It is important to note that the more plugins your website contains the greater the maintenance load. Websites with non-typical plugin usage may require additional maintenance fees as a result.

    If you require us to make changes to your website content (text/images/functionality) then we have a web development team who are available to do this for you. See our design services pricing for more information. Alternatively you can login to your website and make your own changes as well.

    Managing your own hosting

    Hi Tech Creative hosting is strictly 'managed' only. This means that we do not provide access to clients to manage their own hosting or domain configuration other than very rare circumstance's such as if the client is an experienced systems admin or where Hi Tech is acting in a wholesale role. We take this action for various reasons including, ease of management, stability of service and security. In short, too much damage can be done if you don't know what you are doing. If you would like something changed in your hosting configuration then simply open a ticket by emailing us at helpdesk@hitechcreative.com.au.

    Important Note: This item is in regards to Hosting configuration changes. This is different to website changes. You can still login to your website and make changes to the website itself at anytime (images, text etc)

    Accessing your website

    To view your website once it is live you just need to enter 'yourdomain.com.au' (replace with your actual domain) into the address bar of your web browser.

    The address bar

    To login to your website hosted by Hi Tech Creative you will need to know your website address. This is most commonly the website 'domain' or 'primary domain' which you selected during construction and is how people all over the world access your website. If your website domain is 'johnsmowing.com.au' for example then your new website can be accessed by typing johnsmowing.com.au into the address bar of your favorite web browser (Chrome, Edge, Safari etc). In almost all cases the address bar is located at the top of your web browser and at all times displays the 'url' or location of the page your are currently looking at. Note that all web browsers have an address bar at the top to enter the website 'URL' . 'www.' is not needed.

    Google vs the address bar

    Some users often mistake Google with their browsers address bar and attempt to access their website by entering their URL into a Google search box. It is important to note that these are two very different things. Google is a website/company that offers a search engine service which lists websites on the internet and makes recommendations to its users. A bit like a modern Yellow Pages for the internet. The address bar is where you enter the domain or url of the website/page that you want to view. This is how you directly access a website. If you are provided a url or already know the address of the website, then it should be entered into the address bar of your website browser, not searched for in Google. Google should be used for finding new websites on topics that your are interested in, of which you do not know the address/url/domain.
     
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    How to access your website to make changes

    If you would like to access to your website so that you can login and make changes, add /lobby to the end of your website address. Using the example above the login would be johnsmowing.com.au/lobby. This will load the login page for your website. Enter your login and password and click login.

    Advanced Concepts

    These topics are general overviews on some more advanced concepts of website hosting which we often receive questions on.

    Google/search engines

    Google is a provider of online services and is most well known for their search engine. Google is not the internet, they are a company and their primary source of income is advertising. Google has become the world default/standard search engine but other search engines such as Yahoo and DuckDuckGo also fill a similar role. If you are looking for websites which cover a particular topic then you use a search engine like Google to find them.

    Search engine ranking

    Probably the number #1 request that we get from clients is to be at the top of Google. Your ranking on Google is determined by hundreds of different criteria with a complex algorithm that Google keeps secret. The algorithm searches an index of over 130 Trillion page.  Furthermore, everyone wants the same thing as you and you can now start to understand how such a simple question has a rather complex answer. It is very important to not be blinded by Google as being the panecia for business success and we have seen over the last decade that the most successful businesses are those which incorporate a wholistic approach to advertising rather than just focusing on Google ranking.
     
    The algorithm that Google uses looks at the totality of the information it receives via the keywords entered by the user and also the non-keyword information that is tracked behind the scene's such as your location, device, previous search history etc. From this it makes recommendations base on meaning, relevance, quality, usability and context of your website. As a website developer/host Hi Tech Creative has control over some of these items but not all. We cannot for example effect the societal, demographic or geographic demand for your product or business. We also cannot veto non-optimal SEO changes, change wording or force you to update your website content or seek alternative advertising mediums.
     
    As web developers we price our services so that we can fulfill the technical criteria that Google recommends. These are the factors that we can control. We do this based on Google's specific and latest recommendations to provide the optimal cost/benefit ratio for our clients. This includes ensuring that all clients websites are cost/benefit optimised to meet the latest SEO, performance, security, accessibility and best practices recommended by Google.

    Search engine indexing

    Google Indexing is the process of Google finding your website and listing it on their search engine. All search engines like Yahoo and Bing all do this too. This is not instant and takes weeks or months to complete after your website is live. Hi Tech Creative includes a file called a sitemap with all the websites we make which helps the 'crawl-ability' of the website. For customers on our OVA platform we will also submit your sitemap to Google for indexing.

    Google Ads

    If you just want to be at the top of Google at any cost. This is the simplest and most painfree way to do it. Many people forget that Google at the end of the day is mostly an advertising company. Google provides a service called Google Ads which is a bidding system which allows users to allocate a budget and cost per click for associating a keyword with your website. The more demand for the keyword the higher the cost. Hi Tech Creative has staff who are trained and accredited to manage google ads listings.

    SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

    SEO or Search Engine Optimisation is the common term used for the practice of making sure your website is optimised for search engine listings. In recent years it has become widely associated with 3rd party companies which often charge very high fees for such a service. It is important to distinguish the difference between SEO and SEM. SEO involves optimising your website so that it can rank, organically as well as possible, in its current state. SEM includes both organic search and paid advertising to attract traffic.

    Hi Tech Creative provides an SEO audit service where we check your website is up to date with the latest official Google recommendations, make the necessary tweaks and then do this every 6 months. All websites we build undergo SEO optimisation as standard. 95% of the websites we make have an official Google SEO Score of 100/100.

    SEO/SEM is often a topic which is leveraged by taking advantage of unsuspecting and unaware businesses by promising them top Google rankings. This is just false. Don't take our word for it. Here is an official quote from Google: 

    "No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. Beware of SEOs that claim to guarantee rankings, allege a “special relationship” with Google, or advertise a “priority submit” to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is through our Add URL page or by submitting a Sitemap and you can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever."

    Plugins

    Plugins are like little software programs for your website. They add additional functionality to the website. Think of plugins a bit like software for your computer where WordPress is the 'operating system' like Microsoft Windows plugins would be the 'software' like Microsoft Word.

    Plugin updates

    Plugins, just like any software require regular feature and security updates. This is especially important for a websites as unlike your computer, websites are by their nature accessible by anyone, anywhere in the world. Hi Tech Creative performs these updates as part of our managed service. Most hosts do not do this as standard. We have seen many times over the years customer who have come to us after loosing their website through a security hole as a result of their website not being kept up to date.

    Online store/eCommerce

    Online stores allow your customers to purchase products and make payments for goods or services that you offer. Opening an online store should be approached with the same care and planing as a brick and mortar store. Despite what youtube or ebook's will tell you, online stores require you to check for orders, pack, process, photograph products, refund, answer questions, manage payment and shipping calculations and update inventory regularly. You will need to be sure to budget for this time and be trained on the eCommerce software. For our online stores we recommend WooCommerce.
     
    An online store is not a hands-off solution to instant riches but they are a highly effective way to provide digital and physical products over the internet. Hi Tech Creative will generally implement the majority of this during setup but by their nature, online stores are not hands off so we recommend budgeting for an online store manager or eCommerce management training if you are considering operating an online store.

    Payment gateways

    Payment gateways are the payment processing part of an online store. We recommend Stripe. Other popular gateways include PayPal and AfterPay. Hi Tech Creative will generally implement this for you during construction.

    Website content updates

    Depending on the plan you selected during signup you may be eligible for free website content updates by our team. Contact us if you are unsure. If you are on our Instant Design or OVA Care plan these include website content changes.

    Tracking/analytics/pixels

    Tracking and analytics provides additional information regarding the activities of users on your website and is typically used by marketing departments for determining or validating the success of various marketing activities. We often get questions if this or that tracking service can be added. The answer is that we can implement pretty much any tracking service. Just ask us if you are unsure. Please be aware that these additions can in some cases add significant load to your website.

    We have observed over the years that many clients add these to their website because they think they need it. If you do not know how to effectively utilise tracking on your website to leverage your marketing campaigns then we recommend leaving it off. The SEO detriment as a result of the performance loss is often not offset with effective use of the statistics that they generate which results in a net decrease in website traffic.

     
    Hi Tech Creative provides an analytics package which is low demand and provides an easy to understand 6 monthly report on your traffic along with an SEO audit. The cost for this is approximately $1.50 per day.  About 7000% cheaper than the average 'SEO' marketing fee.

    Backups

    Hi Tech Creative provides regular backups for all our hosting clients as standard. These are stored both on and offsite for full redundancy. Many hosts dont do backups and if they do they are often stored on the same server as the website which doesn't protect you in the case of a hardware failure. This is another very important consideration when looking at a cheaper host. Even some premium hosts dont have offsite backups!

    Plugins & licence fees

    Most plugins, just like software, has a licence fee. Usually this is yearly. We maintain a suite of plugins which are the best in the industry and means that your WordPress website comes as standard with many features we think are necessary for a modern website such as a drop and drag page builder, premium themes and templates and SEO tools. We purchase bulk licences for these and pass the savings onto our clients. If you require a non-standard plugin then we will usually be required to amend this to your monthly hosting fee to cover the cost. We apply a small markup to this to cover our costs of maintaining the licence fee as well as transaction/currency conversion fees.

    Mobile optimisation

    Mobile optimisation refers to the practice of making sure the website layout is optimised for mobile devices, of which there are many. It is often said that when we build a website we actually build many because their are many different screen sizes and orientations that we need to take into account. This is incorporated into the fee of your website design. Websites are mobile compatible using a 'responsive framework' which adapts multiple columns. layouts into single columns. Our team adjusts items such as visual asset sizes, padding, menus and load order to obtain the optimum performance/experience.

    Page builders

    Page builders provide additional functionality to the website to make it easier for inexperienced users to make changes to the website layout and content. 10 years ago the majority of our websites were manually coded with HTML. More recently page builder technology has advanced to the point where all of the websites we make use a page builder.

    IP Address

    This is a term you have probably heard before. IP stands for Internet Protocol (IP) address. It is the unique identifying number assigned to every device connected to the internet. An IP address definition is a numeric label assigned to devices that use the internet to communicate. Your website has an IP address and so this means your websites TRUE address is actually a sting of numbers like (126.145.2.23.10). The problem is that is really hard for humans to remember. So we came up with the idea of domains. When you type in a domain your computer asks a special server called a DNS server what the IP address is and it then tells your computer for you and then the website is displayed. This all happens automatically.

    DNS

    The Domain Name System (DNS) is the phonebook of the Internet. Humans access information online through domain names, not IP addresses (because they are long and hard to remember). So we only have to remember google.com or ebay.com. Web browsers interact through Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. DNS translates domain names to IP addresses so browsers can load Internet resources and humans can focus on remembering names. At Hi Tech Creative we manage our own DNS servers.

    A Record

    The "A" stands for "address" and this is the most fundamental type of DNS record: it indicates the IP address of a given domain. If you want to for example, point your domain 'johnsmowing.com.au' to a different website Hi Tech Creative will find out the IP address of the new website and replace the A Record of your domain with the IP address of your new website. Then when anyone enters your domain the DNS will serve them the new IP address and display that new website.

    SPF Record

    An SPF record identifies the mail servers and domains that are allowed to send email on behalf of your domain. Receiving servers check your SPF record to verify that incoming messages that appear to be from your organization are sent from servers allowed by you. This is an important item to configure if you are using a 3rd party service to send emails on your behalf because it prevents the emails from falling into spam. We most commonly see this issue in regards to newsletter services. If you are finding that emails sent via a newsletter service such as Mailchimp are going into customers spam box then this record may not be set correctly. Our team can assist with this. Open a ticket by emailing us at helpdesk@hitechcreative.com.au.