When potential clients approach me to see if I can work on their current website or design a new website for them, the first thing I need to know is what their current website is built in. The second thing is usually about their web host.
Most of the time, they have absolutely no idea about either of these things!
But why is this so important anyway?
Well, there are a few reasons:
1. If you don’t know what type of website you have, you probably don’t know how to access the backend of your site. And if you don’t know how to access the backend, how is a [new] designer going to be able to get in there?
2. If your website is built with a software program like Dreamweaver or Muse, then any [new] web designer is going to need to have those actual programs on his/her computer. Meaning, the backend of the site is not web-based (able to be logged into from anywhere), and the only way to get under the hood is to have the software program AND be able to get access to all of the files (which can be a huge headache).
3. If you don’t know who your web host is, it’s going to be pretty much impossible for anyone to build you a new website or go in and fix any part of your website if it has any major issues (like a virus).
The answer I’m always hoping for with the website question is WordPress, because that’s what I specialize in. And in case you’ve been living under a rock or just have no interest in or connection to the online world, WordPress is an open-source Content Management System (CMS) that powers nearly one-third of the internet. It’s one powerful and amazing animal, and the only Content Management System I work with.
If a potential client comes to me with a site built in Dreamweaver, Muse or some other program that is NOT a Content Management System, I require that we redesign the site in WordPress. If they want to simply tweak some aspects of their current site and are against a redesign, I recommend that they go back to the original designer/developer or find someone who specializes in whatever program it was built in.
If a potential client comes to me with a site built in another Content Management System or platform like SquareSpace, Drupal, Joomla, etc., I’ll still suggest that we redesign in WordPress or that they find someone who specializes in the program it’s built in.
Since each CMS is different – just like each software program is different – it takes time to learn your way around each one. And while I love to constantly expand my knowledge and skills, I also know that sticking to and mastering one CMS is more beneficial to me and my clients.
The answer I’m always hoping for with the web host question is BlueHost, HostMonster, HostGator, Green Geeks, or some other reputable hosting company that utilizes a cPanel and supports WordPress.
Now, onto finding out what type of website and web hosting you have…
There are a few different ways to do this, and sometimes I have to really go digging around to find out what I need.
1. If I suspect (really, hope) that a website might be built in WordPress, I’ll go to whatwordpressthemeisthat.com and type in the site’s URL. This will not only tell me if it is indeed a WordPress site, but it will usually tell me other stuff I might want or need to know like what plugins are being used on the site and what theme it’s using. Sometimes, though, if a site is extremely customized, this site might not detect that it’s a WordPress site. If that’s the case, and if I want or need to double check (especially if I need to help a client figure out how to get into their own site), I’ll try one of my other go-to methods (below).
2. If want to find out what software or CMS a website was built in AND see who the web host is, I’ll go to builtwith.com. You can find out all sorts of information on this site – from where the domain is parked to who the web host is to the software or CMS used and more! It’s a wealth of information for sure! You can also find out who is hosting a site by going to a site like whoishostingthis.com.
3. Finally, if I need to dig a little deeper, I’ll go into the source code of the site. In Chrome, this is done via View –> Developer –> View Source. What you see can be intimidating indeed, but if, for example, I need to see if the site is a WordPress site, I will likely see some links that clearly indicate that it is indeed WordPress.
Thank goodness these resources are out there, because I’m not quite sure what I’d do if they didn’t exist. I’ve had quite a few clients come to me with no knowledge of what type of website they have or who their host is.
My advice to everyone who has a website is to find out this information because it will only help you when you want or need to make any changes (tweaks or a redesign). Plus, knowledge is power…and the more you know, the better chance you have of making good decisions for your business. I wrote about the importance of knowing what you have when it comes to your website in this post. And just like the title of the post says, don’t let this happen to you!
Do you know what type of website you have and who your host is? If not, did you use any of the links above to find out? Tell me about it in the comments.