FAQ: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT MY WEB DESIGN, HOSTING AND MANAGEMENT SERVICES

There’s lots of information here, but if there’s something you’re not sure about, feel free to contact me.

Hosting, SSL, domain names, email

Yes. However, hosting is a specialised service and so - in common with other freelance web designers - I use a dedicated hosting provider.

Having tried a number of hosts over the years, I now use Hostinger - a company that I’ve found to be cost-effective, reliable and responsive.
Hostinger is a major player in the hosting business, with over 29 million customers across 178 countries.

I use their cloud-based hosting (with a 99.9% uptime guarantee and daily backups) and my sites are based at a datacentre in the UK, which helps improve speed for UK-based visitors.

Yes - but with the proviso that it can be difficult if you don’t have a good relationship with your current website manager.

Some website professionals, including me, will help you transfer your domain to another host and/or provider (I don’t charge for doing so).

Others, however, can make it very difficult for clients to move elsewhere. For instance, they might not give you - or someone acting for you - access to the website host’s control panel, or they might hold your domain name and not be willing to release it until your contract ends and/or in return for payment.

If you want to move and your existing provider is being difficult, I’m happy to talk through the options, but it’s unlikely to be an easy switch.

However, providing there are no obstacles to moving, there are a number of options including:

1 - point your existing domain name to Hostinger and I will then then manage your site from there (the domain name stays where it is); and

2 - transfer your domain ownership to Hostinger and I will set up a new account there (the domain is registered with Hostinger; a one-year domain registration fee applies).

I’ve done both of these, so know what’s involved.

In some cases, I can access your existing setup and manage your site from there (e.g. where you’ve set up the site yourself but no longer want to manage it; I’ve also done this).

It’s generally accepted that sites accessed on desktops should load in under three seconds, with mobile devices usually taking longer.

Loading time depends on many factors, such as: the speed of the user’s connection, where the website is hosted, the type of hosting, and the size of the pages being viewed (e.g. lots of images can slow a page, as can videos and fancy fonts).

Although a simple site will load more quickly than a complex one, it’s usually necessary to strike a balance between loading time and visual appeal. Where that balance rests is something that you should consider.

I use UK-based cloud hosting for my sites and tweak images and code to reduce loading times. Performance is assessed using GTmetrix and I aim to get under the three second target for desktops.

Yes. The cloud-based hosting package I use comes with daily website backups.

For sites hosted with me, I will also install a WordPress backup and restore plugin, free of charge. Daily or weekly backups are likely to be most appropriate, but they can be scheduled as frequently as every four hours.

Your website will be created and hosted in the cloud, not on my desktop computer, so any issues with my own hardware should not impact your site. That said, my work files are backed up at least once a day both locally and to the cloud.

Yes, free of charge.

A Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) improves website security by encrypting traffic between the site’s server and the user’s browser.

Installing an SSL certificate changes your URL from the basic ‘hyper text transfer protocol’ (http) to ‘hyper text transfer protocol secure’ (https).

With online users constantly being urged to take security seriously, any site flagged as insecure (e.g. by having a red padlock or written warning displayed) could well be avoided by potential visitors. It’s therefore generally advisable to get an SSL certificate – and absolutely essential if you’re running an online shop.

Some hosting companies charge for buying and installing an SSL certificate and in some cases also require them to be renewed annually.

However, if you host your site through me, I’ll install a lifetime SSL certificate free of charge, so you get added security at no cost!

(Note that ‘lifetime’ means for the length of time your site is hosted with me on Hostinger; it’s not guaranteed to be around as long as you!

Also note that the free installation applies only to your main site. If you want a certificate installed on a subsite, then I’ll invoice you for the cost of it – currently about £15.)

Domain names have to be obtained from registrars: companies accredited by ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.

Many registrars, such as 123-Reg, GoDaddy and BlueHost, also provide hosting and other web-related services.

You can register the domain yourself or get someone else (e.g. a web designer) to do it for you.

When thinking about a name, consider issues such as length (shorter is better), ease of spelling and pronunciation, and how memorable it’s likely to be.

Bear in mind that your domain name isn’t just your website address, but is also likely to be used as an email address and on promotional materials such as business cards, flyers and even on vehicles.

If you want to use the same domain name on social media, check that it’s not already being used as a Twitter handle etc. If it is, think about the implications and whether there are other options for you. If it’s not yet being used on social media, then set up your own social media profiles as soon as you’ve registered the domain name.

I generally use Hostinger to register names. You can check availability and ideas using their domain checker: https://www.hostinger.co.uk/domain-checker.

If your ideal name has already been taken, I’m happy to help explore other options.

Note that prices vary between different top level domains (TLDs; such as .com, .co.uk, .online) and that special offers are usually for the first year only (make sure you check the renewal price before committing yourself).

Although ‘URL’ is often used to mean domain name, the two are not the same.

A URL (Uniform Resource Locator) is the address of a specific resource on the web.

It might be a website, but can also be something else, such as an image, a video or a PDF file.

A domain name is certainly part of a URL, but it sits alongside two other elements: the http/https protocol and the address of the specific resource being referenced, as in this example:
https://doodlydog.wales/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/A-Z-1.1.pdf

Yes, I can create email accounts for your domain and help you access them on your devices.

Content management, site design, testing

Yes - whether you’re looking to sell business to consumer (B2C) or business to business (B2B) I can set up your online store.

For building online shopping sites I favour the world’s most popular e-commerce platform, WooCommerce.

Designed for use with WordPress, WooCommerce is estimated to be used in 29% of the top one million e-commerce websites.

Although the basic WooCommerce package is free, tweaking the look and feel of your shop will usually need additional plugins, some of which might require ongoing subscriptions.

Please note that I will never install any paid addons, such as WooCommerce plugins, without your authorisation.

Before the shop goes live, you’ll have the opportunity to find out how to add images, descriptions and prices, set delivery costs etc – so once initial stock has been added and the shop has been tested, you can manage the store yourself.

Yes: the website will be created in WordPress, the world’s most popular content management system (CMS) which is a well-known, well-tried and well-trusted platform, with plenty of support and documentation available.

In addition, I use the Elementor addon for WordPress. Elementor is a ‘drag and drop’ page builder which adds a further layer of usability to WordPress, making it generally easier to work with. There is also plenty of support available for Elementor.

The site will be developed in a private environment, where you’ll be able to access WordPress, Elementor, WooCommerce etc and find out how to use them.

If you want to manage the website yourself after launch, you’ll be given access to appropriate site features and editing capabilities and I’ll try to equip you with the knowledge, skills and confidence required to work on the site without ‘breaking’ it.

How easy you will find working on the site will very much depend on your experience and ability, but I’ll be available by phone/email/Zoom to help if you get stuck with something.

WordPress began in 2003 as a blogging platform, but evolved into a content management system (CMS) and website builder.

It is estimated to be the power behind more than 40% of the world’s websites and is also said to be the most popular platform for creating online shops.

There are two flavours of WordPress: WordPress.org (also known as self-hosted WordPress) is free software that hosts such as Hostinger provide for users to build their own websites, while WordPress.com is a fee-based blogging and website service owned by a company called Automattic that uses WordPress.org software.

In common with many hosts, Hostinger (the company my sites are hosted with) offers the option to install WordPress software (and also a WordPress/WooCommerce combo) as part of the website setup process.

Although it’s now a website creation tool in its own right, WordPress is often used in combination with dedicated website builders such as Elementor - which is generally my preferred option for creating sites.

A WordPress plugin (also referred to as an addon or extension) is an extra bit of code used to add to, or extend, the functionality of a site.

There are more than 50,000 plugins for WordPress, varying from page builders like Elementor with its own wide-ranging set of tools, to addons offering very specific features, such as Customize My Account Page For Woocommerce.

If you want a particular feature on your site, the chances are that there’s a plugin which will help.

Although some plugins are wholly or partly free, many are not and must be paid for either as a one-off fee or annual subscription.

Please note that I will never add a paid plugin to your site without obtaining your permission to purchase it.

The Elementor plugin is a ‘drag and drop’ page builder which adds a further layer of usability to WordPress, making it generally easier to work with.

I use the Pro version, which adds additional features and which can be further extended through an ever-growing ecosystem of addons.

Yes, I can add a site search facility using a WordPress plugin.

Depending on what you need, there are a number of options available, some of which cost money. Once I know what you’re after, I’ll be able to advise an appropriate solution.

Yes, links to your social media pages can be incorporated into your site and, if you wish, you can have feeds from Twitter, Facebook etc embedded in it.

Yes. I use Mailchimp, which has a free plan offering up to 2,000 contacts and 10,000 sends per month, but am open to other options if you have something in mind.

The quick answer is yes.

However, I do not claim to be an expert in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and use WordPress plugins such as Rank Math and The SEO Framework to help boost the visibility of clients’ websites.

If SEO is a major concern for you, you might prefer to hire a separate specialist to work on your site or even develop expertise yourself.

During development, your website will be tested on a range of browsers and devices, so that I can identify any display problems and make sure your site looks great when it’s launched.

If I’m creating an ecommerce site for you, then I’ll make test purchases and payments to check that everything works as it’s supposed to.

The internationally recognised Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend how website content can be made more accessible to people with visual, motor, auditory and other disabilities on desktops, laptops, tablets and mobile devices.

The latest version is WCAG 2.1 https://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG21/, published in June 2018, which sets out three conformance levels: A, AA, AAA.

In the UK, most public sector websites - including some charities and NGOs - must comply with the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) (No. 2) Accessibility Regulations 2018, which build on the accessibility provisions of the Equality Act 2010.

Sites concerned must provide an accessibility statement, giving users information about how accessible their content is.

Meeting the requirements of WCAG 2.1 ensures compliance with the UK rules.

Because improving accessibility can make sites more user friendly for all visitors, many businesses and other organisations are also implementing WCAG 2.1 (and will presumably be adopting version 3.0 - a first draft of which was issued in January 2021).

Complying with the guidelines need not be particularly onerous. If you’re interested in adopting them, I’m happy to discuss options with you.

Copyright, cookies, privacy

Yes. Although I usually register domain names for my clients and create their websites, I do not consider either the names or sites to be my property.

In the case of the name, it is usually more convenient for me to register it - and to pay the relevant fee - and there is the advantage (as some see it) of the client’s name not appearing on the Whois register (something that can also be avoided by paying for privacy protection).

If I register it and you want to take your business elsewhere at some point, then I won’t charge for handing it over; if you’d rather register the domain name yourself, that’s fine with me.

With regards to the website, once the site is launched - and paid for - the copyright will reside with you. A copyright symbol will be added to the footer of each page in the form: ‘© your name 2021’.

Please note that copyright is a serious issue and I will not knowingly upload - or allow to be uploaded - copyright material that you do not have permission to use on your website.

You should therefore make sure that all texts, images and other materials on your site are yours to use.

You should not, for example, use someone else’s words or photos on your site without their consent and/or an acknowledgement.

Also be aware that, when you register a domain name, the personal information you supply (including your name and address) is publicly available on the WHOIS database.

You can buy annual privacy protection - or let me register the domain with my details.

As part of my service, I’ll register a domain for you free of charge at Hostinger; you’ll pay only for the cost of the domain for whatever period you choose (one, two or three years).

It is not sufficient to tell visitors to your website that cookies are in use: they must give consent for them to be used.

In the UK, neither consent by scrolling or by continuing navigation are valid, and the cookie notice must include explicit ‘accept’ and ‘reject’ buttons.

Following Brexit, the UK has its own data protection regime, which is based on - but not identical to - the EU regime.

UK-based sites must now comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the United Kingdom General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR: Regulation (EU) 2016/679 as amended by UK legislation, in particular the Data Protection, Privacy and Electronic Communications (Amendments etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/419)).

The best way to find out what cookies your site uses is to scan it with a ‘cookie consent’ application.

Many applications will also offer to draft an appropriate privacy policy, based on the scan results and the relevant legal requirements.

Applications are usually available as plugins, but note that many have features which are only available in return for an annual fee (it can cost to stay legal!).

While the onus is on you to ensure that you comply with the legal requirements, I am happy to work with you to identify an appropriate cookie consent and privacy solution.

Delivery, payment, feedback

Although I can design, create and launch a simple, single page site in a day or two, more complex sites take longer and, as a general rule, it’s usually best to allow three to four weeks for completion.

It’s worth bearing in mind that I can’t create a site without content, so you’ll need to make sure that any images and/or texts that you’re providing are delivered on time.

Once I have an idea of what you want, I’ll be able to give you a better idea of the time required.

The reason that my web design prices are ‘from £150’ etc is that each site is different.

Although my fees don’t vary much, until I know what features you want, I won’t know whether, for example, images will have to be bought or if  additional plugins will be needed.

Plugins can bump up the cost of the site and, in the interests of transparency, I therefore quote a minimum (‘from’) price, so you’ll have some idea of what you’ll be paying - but the actual cost will depend on the site content and design that we agree on.

First things first: I’m not VAT registered, so there’s no VAT to add to my charges.

Unless otherwise agreed, invoices are to be settled by bank payment (BACS) within 14 days of issue. Payment details are included in my invoices.

Terms for web design

For website design, I ask for an initial 40% deposit, based on the minimum price quoted for the type of site (single page, multi page, ecommerce).

When I’ve received the deposit, I’ll start drafting the site and will aim to complete it within the timeframe agreed. Once the design process starts, the deposit is non-refundable.

(The deposit is intended to give both of us an incentive to see the project through. From your perspective, if I’ve got your money, I’m obliged to work on the project. From my point of view, I’ve occasionally spent time drafting a site, only to find that the client has walked away, leaving me out of pocket; this way I know I’ll have something to show for my efforts.)

The balance of the agreed fee will be invoiced once the site is ready to go live, along with any additional fee agreed.

Please note that the total fee payable might be higher than the minimum price quoted, usually due to the amount of time involved and/or because projects can evolve, with new features being requested.

(There’s a big difference, for example, between adding 50 items to an online shop and adding 500; and if you change your mind about adding a blog or newsletter, the etxra time needs to be factored in ...)

The cost of any plugins / addons will usually be paid by me and invoiced as work progresses. Invoices should be settled promptly, as slow payment could lead to a slower pace of work on the site.

Terms for web hosting

For website hosting, the appropriate fee must be paid before your site is added to my Hostinger account. Multi-year discounts are only available to clients paying the full amount in advance. Please note that no refunds are given on hosting charges.

Terms for web management

Fees for monthly website support packages are to be paid in advance, by BACS. Discounts for paying annually are only available to clients paying the full amount in advance.

If you wish to cancel a support package, please give a month’s notice. If you do, I’ll keep supporting your site for the month; if you don’t, no further support jobs will be undertaken.

I do not have a formal complaints system in place but, as a business owner, I take all complaints and criticisms seriously and would always be keen to resolve issues to the satisfaction of the parties concerned.

Being naturally self-critical, I tend to look out for and spot issues in my work before users become aware of them, thus minimising the likelihood of problems arising.

Should a complaint be warranted, however, it should be made by email initially to eric@doodlydog.uk, so that a record exists for all parties to refer to.

I welcome feedback, especially constructive criticism that helps me improve the services I offer. Please send any feedback to eric@doodlydog.uk.

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