Web Development Demystified: Your Questions, My Answers
So, you’re ready to start building your dream website with the help of an experienced web developer. BUT, you have no idea what the process is like, what all these web development terms mean, or what you need.
That’s totally normal. I’m the web dev nerd, not you. And I’m here to help you every step of the way.
I’ll demystify the process and empower you with the knowledge you need to build your online presence with the help of a dedicated web developer, like moi!
Whether you’re a small business owner, a blogger, an artist, or simply someone with a passion to share, building a website is an essential step towards reaching your goals in today’s digital world.
Let’s get started and make your website dreams a reality! I’m answering (in detail) the most common questions my new clients ask me when starting the web design and development process. So, you can skip the Q&A IRL, and we can get straight to the fun stuff!
#1 Can you help me with domain creation and how do I choose a domain name?
The domain creation process involves two key steps: (1) deciding on the domain name (URL) and (2) purchasing it. When it comes to choosing your domain name, there are a few things to keep in mind.
It’s important to select a domain name that is easy to remember, easy to spell, and not too long because nobody has time for a toolongandhardtorememberdomainname.com.
It’s also a good idea to find a domain that isn’t already owned by someone else, as purchasing a domain from someone who already owns it will cost you! Whereas a domain that someone doesn’t already own costs just $12/year.
I recommend using Google Domains for purchasing your domain, and I can provide instructions or even assist you in the process during our strategy session on Zoom. Luckily, Google Domains is super easy and straightforward, and they don’t hit you with a bunch of hidden and/or confusing fees.
If you already have a business name, we can work together to find a URL that aligns nicely with your business name. Let’s say your business name is Pawprint Pet Store. Here are some options to try:
#2 Why is website maintenance necessary and why do I need to pay for it?
Look at it this way: A website is similar to a house or a car in that it requires regular maintenance to ensure it continues to function properly.
Just like a house or a car, your website has a foundation or framework, and various components and features that need to be updated, refreshed, and maintained regularly.
Without proper maintenance, your website may become outdated and vulnerable to security risks, and it may not perform at its best.
Website maintenance helps to keep your website running smoothly, ensures it is up-to-date with the latest software and security patches, and helps to improve its longevity.
Just like you need to pay for insurance, updates, and upkeep for your house or car, website maintenance also requires an investment to keep it running efficiently. Otherwise, you’ll need a replacement much sooner than you and your wallet were anticipating.
#3 Can you explain what a website builder is and why you choose WordPress?
A website builder or content management system (CMS) is a tool that allows you to create and manage your website without needing to write code from scratch.
There are various website builders available, like WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, and Shopify. As a web developer, I prefer using WordPress as it’s simply the best in my opinion, powering nearly 50% of all websites!
WordPress serves as the core or foundation of a website and provides a flexible platform for customizations. It offers a wide range of themes (layout and design templates) and plugins (additional functionalities) that I alter to create unique and dynamic websites for my clients.
WordPress also has a large community of developers, which means regular updates and support, making it a reliable choice for building websites.
Without these important and essential bits, your website would be bare bones, difficult to customize, even more difficult to update, and super vulnerable to hackers and other security risks.
#4 Why do you choose to buy premium versions of plugins?
When it comes to plugins for websites, there are both free and premium versions available. I always go for premium versions of plugins whenever possible because they come with reliable support and regular updates.
Imagine a restaurant. They use a point-of-sale (POS) system to place orders, take payments, etc. That type of system is quite crucial to their daily operations and bottom line. If it was down or not working properly for any reason, they’d be in a pretty big pickle, right?
Just like a restaurant that uses a paid POS system for smooth operations, premium plugins offer better support and are more likely to receive timely updates compared to free versions.
As a paying customer, I can expect good support as part of the service contract, which ensures that the provider promptly addresses any issues or concerns with the plugin.
Premium plugins also often come with additional features and functionalities that can enhance the performance and security of the website – so for me, it’s a no-brainer. You get what you pay for!
#5 What is a WordPress theme?
A WordPress theme is software that changes the layout and design of your website. It allows you to customize your site’s layout, typography, and colors, and even add code for further customization.
Changing your theme can completely alter the look of your site, but it’s not as simple as clicking a button, as customizations usually don’t transfer over.
There are THOUSANDS of themes available, some free and some premium. However, many themes come with unnecessary features and content that can slow down your site. Starting with a quality theme without extra “stuff” allows you to have more control over what you add.
#6 What theme do you use?
As a developer, sticking with one theme allows me to provide the best service to my clients. I’m a loyal user of the Beaver Builder theme. I love it! It’s well-constructed, and the support is excellent.
I pay an annual fee for the Beaver Builder license, which allows me to use it on multiple sites and include it in my services for clients. You could buy your own license, but it would be more expensive, so I include it at a fraction of the cost for your and my benefit.
#7 What are plugins?
Plugins are like little superheroes for your website, adding extra features and functionality with just a few clicks! They save you from the hassle of writing tons of code and make it super easy to customize your website to suit your unique needs.
Just like themes, there are both free and premium plugins. In my opinion, most of the free plugins work just fine, so I don’t usually recommend premium plugins unless you need extra functionality or support.
The main WordPress repository alone offers over 60,000 plugins, and there are even more available on websites like CodeCanyon/Envato. But don’t worry, I’ll only ever recommend plugins that are essential for your website.
#8 What are some examples of plugins that you install on a website?
As I said above, there are a TON of plugins available. But here are the most common ones I use for building websites to give you an idea of what you’ll need.
Form Builder Plugins
A form builder plugin is like having your very own virtual assistant that helps you collect information from your website visitors. Whether you need a simple contact form, a testimonial form, or even a job application form, a form builder plugin can do it all!
While there are free form builder plugins available, premium ones like Gravity Forms offer more advanced features like conditional logic, payment processor integration, custom email notifications, and the ability to store form submissions. All of these top-notch features make this plugin ideal for businesses that need extra functionality and quality support.
Some of my animal rescue clients, for example, use Gravity Forms for their adoption applications and donation forms because of its reliability and seamless integration with payment processors like PayPal. This plugin is literally saving animals’ lives!
An SEO plugin, such as SEOPress or Yoast, is another essential plugin that helps your website rank higher on search engine results.
While the free versions of these plugins are usually sufficient for basic SEO needs, premium versions offer more advanced features for businesses with more complex SEO requirements.
Learn more about the SEO process in my other blog post, “SEO Essentials to Set Your Website up For Success.”
Page Builder Plugins
A page builder plugin is like having your very own design studio right in your WordPress dashboard!
Back in the day, web developers had to write complex code or install multiple plugins to achieve common website layouts and features such as columns, galleries, and slideshows.
But with a page builder plugin, you can easily create stunning layouts using a simple drag-and-drop interface, without touching a single line of code!
Some popular page builder plugins include Elementor, Divi, and Beaver Builder, and (again) they come in both free and premium versions. As I gushed about already, I personally love Beaver Builder because it’s user-friendly, extremely customizable, loaded with features, and offers excellent support.
#9 Why do you use page builders rather than write code from scratch?
As a web developer, I initially had reservations about using page builders because it felt like “cheating.” However, I soon realized that page builders can actually make my life easier, help me work faster, and empower my clients to make content updates on their own websites.
Page builders combine the best features of multiple plugins into one powerful tool, without the need for complex coding. Plus, a well-built page builder won’t slow down your website, making it a win-win for everyone!
#11 What does the Beaver Builder license provide when you pay annually?
Buying a premium page builder product like Beaver Builder comes with two main benefits: quality support and smooth updates.
Quality support: While you may not think you’ll need it, having access to reliable support can be a lifesaver when you encounter issues or have questions about how to use a plugin or theme.
Premium plugins like Beaver Builder come with dedicated support from their team, so you can reach out for assistance whenever you or I need it. This can save us both a ton of time and frustration, and ensure that your website continues to function smoothly!
Bonus: When you’re on my maintenance plan and you’re using my Beaver Builder plugin and/or theme license, I’m your go-between so you don’t have to worry about remembering yet another password (to login to the support desk) and so you don’t have to go back and forth with their support team. This personal support is one of the many benefits of being an Exhale Design Co maintenance client.
Smooth updates: Technology is constantly evolving, and plugins and themes need to be regularly updated to ensure compatibility with the latest versions of WordPress and to fix any bugs or security vulnerabilities.
Buying an active license – either directly through the plugin or theme developer or through me at a fraction of the cost – means you’ll always have access to these updates. Having these regular updates will ensure that your website remains secure, stable, and up-to-date with the latest features and functionality.
#12 If I hire you for the monthly maintenance, does that include monthly support?
Yes, it does…but to an extent.
My website maintenance page outlines everything included in my monthly hosting and maintenance service. To give you an idea, here are a few things that are and are not included – so you know what you’re paying for. For the full story, hop on over to the FAQs on my website maintenance page.
Some of the things you get:
- Website backups
- Website security scans
- Malware website clean-up
- Fighting against hackers
- Security updates
- WordPress, plugin, and theme updates
- Fixing Google Search Console errors
- Web hosting services
- Discounted rate for website tweaks and content updates
- Discounted rate for premium plugins like some of the ones mentioned in this post
Some of the things you don’t get*:
- Uploading blog posts
- Adding products to your online store
- Graphic design services
- Fixing errors others made
*These tasks will be charged hourly at your discounted maintenance client rate.
#13 How do I create a professional email address?
Two companies lead the professional email industry, and they are Microsoft365 and Google Workspace. Professional email uses your domain, i.e. email@example.com.
I’m a Google-lover, so I’ve been using Google Workspace for many years and recommend it to all of my clients. The cost is $6 or $12 per user per month, depending on your storage needs – but you can always start at the lowest price bracket and then upgrade if needed.
Google makes it very easy to get started. You’ll simply click the blue “Get started” button, answer a few basic questions, and add your payment information. The important step that makes your email function properly (a.k.a. allows you to send and receive email at your new email address) involves adding what’s called an MX record to your DNS settings. This is done in your domain account, and I can assist you with this step.
Once your account is set up, you can add more users, customize your inbox, add an email signature, and more!
You’re All Set – Go and Get Web Developing!
Armed with this knowledge, I hope you’re feeling ready to take the plunge with confidence. Remember, building a website may seem daunting at first, but with the right guidance and resources, it’s an achievable goal for anyone.
Whether you’re working with a developer or DIY-ing it, building a website involves a significant investment of time and money. The web design and development process is filled with lots of moving pieces, many of which can be quite unsettling. Understanding what all of these pieces mean will help alleviate some of the worry and confusion.
Embrace the learning process, be patient with yourself, and don’t be afraid to ask for help or clarification from your web developer when needed.
If you choose to work with me, I’ll make sure you don’t get bogged down in all these technical terms and processes. That’s my job!
At Exhale Design Co, we bring your website, digital strategy, and branding to life, so you can breathe out and focus on all that important stuff on your to-do list.
We’re here to help you every step of the way. Get in touch today and let us help you kick your website (and more) into high gear!
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