Your business website isn’t just a place for you to list products or services. It’s a gateway to credibility with the always-on crowd who see a lack of a website as a sign that your business won’t last very long.
As most business owners discover, website technology is a more complex topic than it looks like at first blush. You can chalk that up to ever-evolving needs in terms of security, eCommerce, and design.
Keep reading and we’ll help clarify some of the big areas of website technology for you.
What is Website Technology?
Website technology is a catch-all term for a wide range of hardware, application, and methods that allow websites to operate on and communicate via the Internet. Website technology touches on areas as diverse as website design, payment gateways, and content management systems.
Servers are the main type of hardware that connects a website with Internet users the world over. The server is where you upload and store the files that make up your website.
Unless you run a particularly competent in-house IT team, you’ll likely use third-party servers through a hosting service. Most hosting services offer tiers of service, with shared hosting as the most common option for smaller businesses. You literally share space and resources with other websites on the same server in a shared hosting plan.
Programming languages are the basic technology of building websites. Three main programming languages make up something of a holy trinity of web programming:
HTML lets programmers set up the basic structure of the site by dividing the site into headers, paragraph blocks, and similar document elements.
CSS focuses on the overall look of the site. The application of colors, gradients, and fonts happens through CSS.
Anytime you open a website on your computer or phone, you use a browser. A browser is a kind of software that interprets the code of your website and displays it.
At the top of any list of website building tips is making sure that you test your site on multiple browsers to make sure they all display the site the same way.
Content Management Systems
Some businesses opt for a custom website. That means that they get a web designer to build from scratch. Other businesses employ a content management system.
A CMS offers some benefits. It’s generally faster to install a CMS than get a custom site. You get some limited customization options with a CMS, such as themes that alter the look of the site.
You also get plugin options with a CMS that lets you add a function to the site, like a web store and shopping cart.
Site security is a big deal, but it’s also something of a murky area for business owners. The level of security you can implement varies based on your hosting service and your understanding of the available security options.
A baseline level of security you should employ is Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure or HTTPS. In the early days of the Internet, everyone used HTTP as the protocol for sharing content over the Internet. As the Internet grew ever more integral to daily life and security concerns grew, HTTPS became the new norm.
You can typically enable HTTPS in the control panel of your hosting service. HTTPS essentially adds a layer of encryption for data on your website.
You can boost the security on your site with regular software updates, solid digital security training for employees, and site monitoring tools. There are website security packages that actively scan your site for security flaws. You can even hire a cybersecurity expert to review your site.
Monitoring and Testing
A lot of website technology revolved around monitoring and testing. For example, decibel.com offers testing options around user experience.
An analytics package is the main testing and monitoring technology you’ll likely encounter for your website. Analytics packages come at various levels of cost and information clarity. As a general rule, they give you information about things like:
- Visitor locations
- Site visit duration
- Page visit duration
- Popular content
- Clickthrough rates
- Cart abandonment stats
More advanced analytics packages can let you dig down into more granular levels of visitor actions. You’ll need a good analytics package if you want to get any value from a website maintenance tips checklist.
Many businesses want an eCommerce component on their website. While you can build a web store and shopping cart from scratch if you really want to, you will need the services of a payment gateway for actual sales.
A payment gateway lets you accept payments, typically from a credit card or debit card. The gateway processes the payment for you. You should expect a per-transaction fee from the gateway merchant, just like you’d get if you run credit card payments at a physical counter.
Different payment gateways offer different options in terms of payments accepted. At a minimum, you want a payment gateway that accepts all major credit cards.
There are a variety of marketing technologies that work on, though, or in conjunction with your website. There are marketing automation technologies that automate content posting or delivery.
You’ll also encounter SEO. SEO isn’t the technology itself, but rather helps you get the website technology set up in a way that benefits your search rank.
Website Technology and Your Business
Website technology covers a lot of ground, which means that you won’t necessarily use all of it. For a hard-charging business with a focus on products, eCommerce may matter a lot. For a general contractor, a basic CMS site with a blog may prove all you need.
The important part is that you remain aware that these technologies evolve because that can mean you need frequent updates to keep your site relevant and secure.Looking for more tips on website technology or Web technology in general? Check out the posts in our internet section.