This section of our site is aimed at explaining in plain English, just what Web Hosting is about. We hope to address the simplest issues such as What Is Web Hosting, How Much Space You Need and What is Bandwidth, right through to more complex issues such as Website Accessibility and Regulations For Businesses.
Please click on the headings below to find out more:
What is Web Hosting
Web Hosting is a service which allows an individual's (or companies) website to be accessed throughout the World Wide Web.
If you have 2min 46secs free we recommend viewing this video as an introduction to how the WWW works: click here.
The World Wide Web is a collection of many thousand Servers (large computers connected to the internet), when you access a website through your PC you are in fact viewing a file located on one of these servers.
So a Web Host is a company which provides users space on their website. They also provide assistance with domain names and DNS (nameservers) so that when a user types the users' domain the correct website is displayed.
A Web Host will also provide the users with email access, users can have their email sent and received from their domain name using the Web Hosts' server as the email 'sorting office'.
Of course many different Web Hosts do much more than simply put your files on the web, Floppynet are just one company which offers services such as Visitor Statistics, Self Installing Scripts, Mailing Lists, Live Server Monitoring, Web Mail. Different hosts offer different types of hosting, such as Windows based hosting or Linux based hosting, for many users there is very little difference, but more experienced users often need to check before committing to purchase.
How much web hosting do I need?
Websites differ in size and structure, from a simple 3 page information based website, right through to a fully fledged database driven website with multimedia elements.
Clearly more complex websites take up a lot of space, it is therefore hard to give a good idea of MB needed. However for more common websites the following rule of thumb applies.
Each web page of a website is typically 10KB, though this can be up to 20KB so we will use this figure.
Note that this doesn't include any images! Images vary in size, format and quantity on a page; expect images to use 3 or 4 times the space of your web pages!
Use this table as a handy guide:
|Size of Hosting||250MB||500MB||1GB||2GB|
|No. of web pages||3500||7000||14,000||28,000|
|Space for images||180MB||360MB||720MB||1.4GB|
This might seem a little shocking, not many websites in the world offer 3,500 web pages (let alone 28,000 pages) but this is just an indication of how powerful a hosting package could be. Clearly if you want to offer more images, better quality images, or more dynamic content (eg sound). You could quite easily use 90% of your web space for images (or simply room for expansion later.....)
What is DNS / Nameservers?
DNS (Domain Name Server) is the underlying reason that the internet works with such simplicity. Every day we type in different email addresses, websites and so on, but with thousands of servers all over the world how does your computer know where to find the requested website?
Well the simple way of thinking about this is the fact that names which are easy for humans to read (such as www.floppynet.co.uk or www.google.co.uk) are not very easy for computers to understand. In fact computers and web servers communicate to each other using numbers, known as 'IP addresses'. Every machine connected to the internet has an IP address, and every web server also has an IP.
A nameserver is the secret part of the internet which converts the names we type into our web browser into the IP address of the relevant server. In essence DNS is a database of domain names and corresponding IP's, which sounds so simple, but think about it:
- Many Billions of website pages are viewed each day
- You could access the DNS hundreds of times each day!
- Many IP addresses change on a daily basis
- New domains are registered and modified every second
When you subscribe to hosting from Floppynet, we offer you the chance to purchase your domain directly from us. Alternatively you may order one from any other Domain Registrar. if using a third part the can help you to update the DNS record for the domain. As explained above what we are actually asking you to do, is to update this global database so that when people use your domain, it knows that your website is actually on our servers.
Check if your domain is available:
What bandwidth do I need?
Bandwidth is the traffic created by a website, if you have a web page which in total is 50KB, each time a user looks at this page you will use 50KB of your bandwidth allowance.
So if you have 100 visitors in a day you will have used 5MB of your allowance. In a month this would equate to 150MB. But the great thing about the internet, is that one image can be used on more than one page, say for example you have a logo on your website, the same file can be used on every page of your website. This means that once a user has downloaded it, it is saved on their machine temporarily and so each time this image is used on subsequent pages it doesn't come out of your bandwidth...
Images are the largest users of bandwidth, good web design includes making sure that images are as small as possible, this means your website can be viewable by more people each month.
Floppynet will always allow you to purchase extra bandwidth if you are having a very busy period, but our packages tend to be very generous with bandwidth and you can always purchase a package to suit your bandwidth needs rather than your web site size needs.
How do I build my website?
Building a website doesn't have to be complex. Floppynet is a web hosting company, not a web design company, however if you decide that a professionally designed website is something you need then feel free to contact us for a recommendation.
If you decide that building your own site is much easier you will be able to do any of the following:
Use Microsoft FrontPage
(Great for beginners, included in most MS Office Packages)
Use Adobe DreamWeaver
(More advanced, can be expensive, great results)
Or you can use the services included with all Floppynet packages, including:
Drupal - An advanced portal with collaborative book, search engines friendly URLs, online help, roles, full content search, site watching, threaded comments, version control, blogging, news aggregator.
Mambo - professional level yet easy to use content Management System featuring inline WYSIWYG content editors, newsfeeds, syndicated news, banners, mailing users, links manager, statistics, content archiving, date based content, 20 languages, modules and components.
phpWebsite - Very powerful content Management System with document manager, announcements, menu manager, photo album, block maker, FAQ, web pages maker, polls, information categorizer, calendar, link manager, form generator.
WordPress - A personal publishing tool (Blog) with focus on aesthetics and featuring cross-blog tool, password protected posts, importing, typographical niceties, multiple authors, bookmarklets.
Nucleus - A powerful blog script featuring multiple blogs, multiple authors, drafts and future posts, bookmarklets.
As well as:
- Photo Albums
- Auction Software
- Calendar Scripts
- Templates Express
Making websites open to all
Websites have a legal duty to be accessible to disabled people. With new laws on accessibility likely and a strong commercial case for making websites accessible, businesses need to take this issue seriously.
It is ten years since the Disability Discrimination Act (“DDA”) became law. The legal duties imposed by the DDA come into force gradually. Most businesses that we have spoken to seem to think that the obligations only began applying to websites in 2004. In fact, websites have had a legal duty to be accessible to the disabled since 1999.
Incentives for businesses
The disabled are a large potential market for businesses. Statistics from the Office of National Statistics suggest that about 10 percent of people in the UK have some form of disability. The Employers Forum on Disability estimates that disabled people in the UK have a combined spending power of £40 - £50 billion. In addition to ethical reasons why websites should be accessible by all, businesses therefore have a strong commercial incentive.
Duty to make websites accessible
In essence, it shouldn’t be “unreasonably difficult” for disabled people to access your website. If your website falls in this category, you’re under a statutory duty to take reasonable steps to remove that difficulty.
How far does this duty go?
The DDA sets out 2 limitations on the accessibility duty. You are not required to take steps that would fundamentally alter the nature of your service or the nature of your business. The DDA also states that you are not required to take steps that would mean that you are spending more than a “prescribed maximum” amount. As at the time of writing, the UK government has still not specified what this “prescribed maximum” is, making this restriction effectively redundant for the time being.
The fact that you have to take “reasonable steps” also limits the duty. What is “reasonable” is not fixed and depends on:
The services you are providing;
The size of your business and your resources;
What effect the disability has on the individual disabled person.
The DDA, not surprisingly, also states that it’s unlawful to discriminate against a disabled person, for example, by refusing to provide, or deliberately not providing, a particular service, for example via the internet.
Consequences of not complying with the DDA
Bad publicity and damage to your reputation
For example, in 2005 an airline which encourages customers to book online was criticised by the Royal National Institute for the Blind for failing to offer the same prices to disabled persons, who are required by the airline to confirm their booking over the telephone.
Being sued by someone affected by “discrimination”
Under the DDA, the affected person can issue legal proceedings and claim damages for injury to their feelings caused by the discrimination.
So far, there have been no court actions for website related disability discrimination in the UK. In Australia, a man brought an action against the Sydney Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (“SOCOG”). The man was blind and uses a Braille display to browse websites. The man claimed that he could not access the SOCOG website to obtain up to date information about the Olympics. SOCOG was ruled to have discriminated against the man and was made to pay $20,000 damages. This illustrates how costly an inaccessible website could be and we certainly hope that the UK Olympics organisers will be learning from this!
How to make your website comply with the DDA
Our advice is to follow current best practice on website accessibility. Of course, this can be easier said than done because there are numerous competing accessibility standards. However, one prominent standard which is viewed as robust within the industry is the Website Accessibility Initiative (WAI) standard developed by W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium.
By complying with current industry best practice, you are maximising your chances of complying with the duties under the DDA because these standards try to go beyond the minimum statutory requirements.
Does my website have to be plain text to be DDA compliant?
One of our friends in the industry specialises in website accessibility. He says “any web designer worth their salt will have the skills to produce a website that conforms to the DDA guidelines while continuing to achieve a high level of design and conformance to any corporate design standards. There is no need for ‘text-only’ websites.”
This article was created by Alex Newson, a UK IP and IT lawyer at Freeth Cartwright LLP. If you'd like to discuss website accessibility issues under the DDA, please contact Alex on 0845 058 0759, email@example.com.
What is web accessibility?
Web accessibility is about allowing disabled and non-disabled people to use your website regardless of the technology (software and hardware) or adaptive strategy they are using. This is particularly important for people with disabilities who rely heavily on assistive technologies to the Internet.
It also includes older people whose abilities change with age and web accessibility therefore embraces all disabilities that affect the use of the web and these include visual, neurological, auditory, cognitive and speech impairments.
Below is a list of some disabilities:
- Visual impairments (blindness, low vision, colour blindness);
- Physical disabilities (motor disabilities);
- Cognitive and neurological disabilities (dyslexia and dyscalculia, attention deficit disorder, intellectual disabilities, seizure disorders, mental health disabilities, memory impairments);
- Aging-related conditions;
- Multiple disabilities (for example someone who is deaf and blind);
- Hearing disabilities (deafness and hard of hearing).
Different disabilities affect the way disabled users use the web and the types of assistive technologies and adaptive strategies they use. Assistive technologies (also called adaptive software or hardware) and adaptive strategies help users with disabilities carry out tasks on the web that they would otherwise not be able to. These include screen readers, screen magnifiers, text browsers, alternative keyboards, voice browsers, Braille and refreshable Braille, scanning software, speech recognition, tabbing through structural elements (for example links, headers and list items), etc.
Web accessibility, therefore, is about designing and adapting web pages in such a way that disabled people can use the web using these technologies and adaptive strategies. For example, a blind person will use a screen reader that will read aloud what is displayed on the screen. Since most screen readers can only read text and do so from left to right, it is important that web pages are designed in such a way that they can be read in a linear fashion and that all graphical elements are supported with a text alternative (i.e. use of the "Alt" element in the img tag).
Key Benefits of Web Accessibility
The Internet is becoming increasingly more important in our lives. Web accessibility is vital to disabled people as it provides them with equal access and equal opportunity to the web. Therefore it significantly improves their lives as "the Web offers the possibility of unprecedented access to information and interaction for many people with disabilities". An accessible web allows people with disabilities to become more active members of our society (W3C 2005).
Secondly, it is a legal requirements for any company that offers goods and services on the Internet to ensure that their site is accessible (Disability Rights Commission 2004). Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) states that "From 1st October 1999 a service provider must take reasonable steps to change a practice which makes it unreasonably difficult for disabled people to make use of its services".
According to the Royal Institute for the Blinds (RNIB) an accessible website also brings many commercial benefits. These include:
- Increased market share (there are 8.5 million disabled people in the UK, they represent 14% of the population and have a spending power of around £50 billion (ONS 2006);
- Increased usability (accessible websites provide clear navigation and content which encourage web users to stay longer and return to the site);
- Reduced maintenance costs (cleaner code and use of CSS make web sites easier and quicker to maintain);
- Greater compatibility and future proofing (by designing according to web standards for accessibility, web sites remain readable as browsers and web standards evolve).
This article was created by Nathalie Vu-Van-Toan, a UK Accessibility Expert and Web Designer. If you'd like to discover more about professional design services which comply with current legislation, please contact Nathalie on 02476 302 609, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Choosing The Right Domain
Websites names (often called domains or web addresses) are the easiest way of getting people to your site. Memorable and descriptive names are not only memorable, but help your search engine listings too.
There are some basic guidelines which you should consider when choosing a domain. Using these guidelines and also seeing what names are available is a great way to create your shortlist.
Check if your domain is available
Long Vs Short
There is no right or wrong, but think about websites you remember and most will be business names, brand names or product descriptions. Abbreviations are ok, but sometimes hard to remember. For example, UnderWaterBasketWeaving.com is much easier to remember than uwbw.com because the name perfectly describes the service. Where possible it is best to register the business or product name, unless the initials create an easy to remember acronym.
Keywords are words which identify your websites content, so if your business offers an Under Water Basket Weaving service, these are all keywords. The company may actually be called 'Billys Baskets' but he will do much better with the search engines if he includes more keywords in his domain. it also increases the chance of people 'guessing' the website address when looking for such a service. It is usually recommended that at least 1 keyword is in your domain.
Some words can be spelt differently on different parts of the globe (eg. Color and Colour). In such a situation consider your primary audience. Alternitivly order both domains. If your website name has a common misspelling, you might want to register that name too, it will increase the chance of people finding your site...
A TLD (Top Level Domain) is the .com / .net / .co.uk element of your domain. This is very important to consider. If possible why not order many different TLD's of the same domain and point them all at the same site. TLD's might be country specific (eg. .fr for France, .co.uk for United Kingdom), consider your target audience.
.com - Companies (global audience)
.net - Network Suppliers (global audience)
.org - Organisations (global audience)
.co.uk - United Kingdom content
.name - Personal Websites (global)
.eu - European Websites
Some TLD's can only be registered by certain people / organisations. However often you can register the TLD's above for any reason. Note though, if you have a .com you are potentially stating that your site's content is relative to an international audience.
If you have trademarks, buy the domains now! Even if they are not used you should make the small investment.
On the same note, avoid using other peoples trademarks. if you were to register microsoftwebdesign.com you can expect problems when Mr gates and his lawyers find out. It is best to avoid other trademarks where possible, you are asking for trouble, and risk confusing your visitors.
Own Your Domain
Ok so this sounds obvious, but if you are using a designer or a design service, make sure they register the domain in YOUR NAME. So many designers cut corners and register domains in their name (usually to save time) and then one day you need to change something and you are denied access. or worst - your business becomes hugely successful and they claim ownership (rightfully) and you are forced to buy the domain from them. Not everyone on the planet are as wonderful as Floppynet - be aware!
Check if your domain is available
Website & Email Regulations for Businesses
Businesses who make use of a website and email communications have for a long time found it 'Best Practise' to include certain information on their Website and Emails, just as they would on invoices and physical correspondence. However legislation introduced in 2006 outlines the legal duty of Businesses and trading entities with regard to their information transmitted electronically.
The regulations apply to all Limited Companies, Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP's) and were introduced to bring the UK law into line with the EU regulations around this area of company law.
The general outline of the regulations means that the following information must be made available, failure to do so can result in a fine and legal action taken against the company.
Information required includes:
- The registered name of the company or LLP and any trading name.
- The registered number of the company or LLP and it’s place of registration.
- The address of the registered office.
- The companies VAT number (where appropriate)≥
- A direct means of contact (email address is acceptable)
- If the business is a member of a trade or professional association, membership details, including any registration number, should be provided.
- This must be included on their website (on an accessible page) and on all company emails.
Website owners such as 'Sole Traders', and Partnerships, would find the following information to be 'Best Practise', however at present there is little legal responsibility to do so.
The trading name of the Partnership or Individual
The trading address of their business
A direct means of contact (email address is acceptable)
If the trader is a member of a trade or professional association, membership details, including any registration number, should be provided.
How Google Can Help Your Website
Google has become a dominating entity on the World Wide Web and some people see them as a positive influence or negative influence.
It is important to remember that as far as search engines go, there are many more out there than just google, Yahoo and Windows Live Search are 2 examples but the list is endless.
The reason many web masters love Google is because of the host of other features they offer. A rough outline of each feature is below:
AdWords is a way for you to advertise your website through Googles' search engines and also through other 'AdSense' users. You are able to define how much you are willing to pay Google for each click of your advert. In this way you don't pay Google unless people actually click to see your site. Your advert may be seen hundreds and thousands of times but you only pay for actual visits generated by the ad. You can choose keywords and geographical variants to make sure you ad is only seen by your target audience.
AdSense is a simple way to generate revenue from adverts on your site. Google have thousands of advertisers on their network and all you need to do is implement a simple bit of code and adverts can been seen on your site. You generate an income for every ad that is clicked - and best of all you don't need to worry about finding advertisers.
Firefox With Google Toolbar
Firefox has become more and more prominent amongst internet users, Google and Firefox work very closely together and have generated a version of the infamous browser which includes a google add on. The Google features will display information including your sites' PageRank (the system Google uses to determine how valuable your site is). You can also download add ons for Firefox including Alexa data (information of how popular your site is over the entire WWW).
Whilst all Floppynet packages include site statistics and user information, you can also use the free services of Googles' Analytics which present this information in a very graphical interface. Everything from how users found your site, what keywords they used on Google, which part of the world they are from, what times of day are most popular and so on. With a very simple interface you can even integrate this with the AdWords account to combine data to a much more useful entity.
By learning about your users and their trends you can tailor your site to better suit these people, or to appear more attractive to potential visitors you are not attracting.
Google also offer a host of Webmaster tools for free, the tool explains how often your site is indexed by google, problems encountered including invalid links and missing pages, how often Google visits your site. You can even upload a sitemap so Google know about every page on your site and can make sure they index them as often as possible. See here
Basic Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
If you want your website prominently listed on the World Wide Web you have to get your ‘Search Engine Optimization’ or SEO right.
The first, and probably most important, area of SEO is keywords. Keywords are words that best describe your website. For example my web site keywords include ‘design, graphics, magazine, web, print’ and so on. However getting to the top of a search engine ranking for common search terms could prove difficult. Someone typing in ‘design’ into Google isn’t going to find my website anywhere near the top because there are literally millions of higher ranking websites will have that keyword. So using keywords such as ‘web, design, Lincolnshire’, or including things specific to you or your business in your keywords will help a great deal. I have a much higher chance of someone finding my website if they type ‘Chapman design Lincolnshire’ because I have used these words within my keywords.
Another big tip is to use your keywords as many times as you can within your web pages layout, without overdoing it. Try and use the keywords in header tags, page titles and within the body text of your site – especially on the homepage. Making these words bold, or in striking colours can also help with the way a search engine sees your site.
A simple example:
Above is a simplified example of SEO. The TITLE tag contains all the information about what the website is, in a short and concise sentence/list, each page should have a different title tag.
This contains a great deal of the keywords. These are listed in the meta name=”keywords” section. Just list the keywords one after the other separated with commas.
Finally include a description which will appear under your website when it is shown within a search engine, this is included under the meta name=”description” tag.
The “author” tag is used to list the author of the page, this is useful when discovering who actually owns/created the website. “robots” is referring to search engines, you are able to specify if you want NO robots (search engines) to find your site, or ALL search engines to find it.
This is intended to be a start to using SEO. More and more complex solutions are being increasingly used to maximise a website’s Google, Yahoo, or MSN potential. Take time to research your keywords and pay attention to internet trends at the time, keep trying different combinations until you find one that works for your site.
This article was created by Lea Chapman, a UK Web Design and Graphics Design Professional. If you’d like to discover more about professional design services, web design or print services, please contact Lea, in the Root Studio, on 01522 528246, email@example.com or www.rootstudio.co.uk.
Broadband and Download Speeds Explained
There is much confusion around the WWW about broadband speeds and download speeds experienced by users. Some of this is caused by Internet Service Providers (ISP's) and their confusing advertising, but some of this is also due to some complex and geeky misunderstandings.
Data transfer speeds are measured in Megabits
per Second (Mb/s) with many ISP's advertising 8, 10, 20 and even 50Mb/s.
HOWEVER files, web pages, and media downloads are all measured in
Megabytes - you will notice the very important 'Y' difference in this
word and it may surprise you to know that a Megabit and a MegaByte are
very different. In fact 1 megabit = 0.125 megabytes which is a HUGE
difference for 2 words which sound so similar. This is because 1 Byte = 8
So if you have 10Mb/s broadband and want to download a 10MB file it should take 1 second right? WRONG, it will in fact (in theory) take 8 seconds on a perfect 10Mbs connection. However even once we allow for this rule of 8 it is often the case that things take much longer and this can be easily explained. Let's assume we have a 1MB file (a photo for example), this file is 1024 kilobytes or 1,048,576 bytes. Our internet connections send each individual piece of data as a separate entity, so this photo is actually being transmitted as '8,388,608 Bits' of separate pieces of data (remember 8 Bits make a Byte). These 8,388,608 Bits are all sent through the internet as separate bits of data, but must be sent in the correct sequence and will not make any sense to a receiving computer (or server) unless they all arrive in the same order and without a single Bit of data being lost. All of this is happening over a connection capable (in theory) of sending 10,485,760 Bits of data every second.
It is this complex requirement of data transfer that causes some files to appear much slower than your ISP promised you, and all of this assumes you are actually getting the broadband speeds you were promised.
In short things will often take 10 times longer than you may have expected simply because of complex geeky maths and data transfer rules. To find out you actual connection speed check out this tool*.