What it Takes to Run Your Own Web Site (ever in progress)

Joy of Web Publishing

Very early on I noticed that Web content is a very special type of content, and Web development is a very special type of development.  Everything you say and everything you design is immediately available not just to millions, but to an entire Earth population with electricity and Internet.  And that is amazing.   And that is a true lure of running a Web site.

Your thoughts and ideas are buried deep inside your head, but with Internet these ideas can find their customer, and your thoughts can find their reader.  Your site is your creation.  It is another dimension of you.

Answer Fundamental Questions

What is your Angle?
First you need an idea.   What it is you want to do on the Web?  Do you have some interesting material?  Do you have any free time?

Domain Name
Select and register your Domain Name.  Surprisingly, there are plenty of good names still available.  Wake up in the middle of the night and try your favorite name.  It might still be available.

Hosting Options
Pick your platform – are you hosting it at home or with a provider?  Both options are viable.  You can host your site at home at least on early stages.  But that is another set of skills.  You have to learn a lot here. You need to maintain your site availability close to 99% of the time. One of the most flexible hosting solutions currently available is with Amazon.  They provide an entire virtual server at your personal disposal somewhere in the Internet cloud to host as many domains on as many platforms as you want.  You pick an operating system, back-end database engine, web server, developer framework.

Coding New or Borrowing Existing
Are you writing the site from scratch or using an existing models?  I found that if you decide to write your own site, all you time is taken by fixing and maintenance.  There is no time left for actually doing business of your site.

Google Power
Register your site with Google Analytics.  This that you can study who reads you, what  do  they read, and how visitors respond to your moves.  Who are your readers?  You do not see them from your windows.  Your site statistics is the only tool you can use to learn your audience, its habits and preferences.

WordPress Specific Points

Pick Your Theme
Say, you decided to go with WordPress platform. Spend time to pick your favorite Theme.  It is face of your site.  They are free and they are plentiful.

Does New Users Get Their Passwords?
Test new user registration procedure.  Test the whole experience from beginning to the end.  Pay special attention to mechanism of sending and validation passwords over email.  Make absolutely sure that it is working.

Add Only Absolutely Required Features
Add features one by one, not all at once.  Take time to test and re-test.  Only add features that fit to the purposes of your site.  What is fantastic with WordPress is that,  if you need something, somebody already did it and has it available for you.

Constantly Learn New Features and Tricks
After4 month with WordPress, I just learned a new feature of SUBTITLES.  You can easily to add a subtitle to your article in addition to a regular title.  And everyday like this.  A new feature, a new trick, that somebody came up with and wrote about, and let entire world to jump with joy.

Day-to-Day Operations

Time and More Time
Running a web site takes time.  Everyday a little bit or a lot.  Everyday you learn new things and try to apply these new things to your site.  And fix, what your visitors noticed is broken. You have to love and enjoy that everyday sweet torture.

Be a hawk about system maintenance and backups.  Always have in your pocket a solution for a system crash and think about “Plan B” before the worst has happened.

Development and Test
Have a fresh working copy of your site and data running on your local laptop.  Do not make any changes to your site without testing them on your local test site.  Keep a log of all code and system changes in a separate private post, and keep updating it immediately upon any change.

Copyrights and References

What is original content?   How much material you have to borrow before you need to add a reference?    When you are writing everyday on lots of different topics, you have to rely on other sources: pictures, maps, translators, facts and spelling checkers, code and techniques.  As a rule of thumb, always list your sources.  In addition to being fair, that creates traffic for people from whom you borrowed.  Plus that is a great reference for yourself, in case you need to use that recourse in future.

Try to obtain a permission to use the resource by contacting the site or email.  And always, always have your value adding ideas.  Do not borrow just for the sake of populating an empty space.  Borrow to enhance or illustrate your own ideas.

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