Before you start building your own author/writer website or contract a designer to build it for you, there’s a bit of technical jargon you should understand to help you get through the experience. I don’t mean to go into everything – that’s impossible here – but I want to give you the basics in an easy-to-understand format.

Content Management System

A content management system (CMS) is simply a way of interacting with your website. The best way to explain this is with an example. WordPress, Blogger, Joomla, and Drupal are all popular content management systems that allow the average Joe to build and manage websites without having a Ph.D. in programming. The system has an administrative panel where you go and easily change, add or remove content or applications. They use databases (discussed later) to store content and other information needed by the system. They usually offer a set of customizable website templates with little or no programming knowledge.

Compare this to professional, high- tech website building, which big businesses often use. A web designer will build the website and all of its structures on his own computer and upload the program and image files via FTP (discussed later). If done without creating a CMS, this usually means the client is relying on the designer to make changes to any content or images, which can be expensive. If the designer also builds or provides a proprietary CMS system for you, it will likely cost you money or lock you into their service or hosting. This is not the ideal way for most writers and writers.


As we discussed earlier, content management systems are built around databases that store certain types of information that your site needs to access. Usually this means page content, article content, photos, metadata, and user information. The database should not be modified, created or deleted by an inexperienced user. If you don’t know what you’re doing, changing the information in the database can cause your site to go down completely. Popular database systems you will come across include MySQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server and IBM DB2.


File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a method of uploading web design files from your computer at home to your website’s file manager. This is often the preferred transfer method for designers. However, if you are not experienced in building your own website, using a content management system is a better way. You will need design software and an FTP program to build a website this way.

DNS & MX records

I put these terms together because there’s so little you need to know. Domain Name Servers are a way to let people know where your website is hosted. Your web hosting company has their own unique server identification location. The MX record relates to an email account and describes which server is responsible for the email account and also serves as a way to prioritize sending email across multiple servers. What’s important here is that you don’t change any of these records unless you know what you’re doing.


Bandwidth is a generic term that you will see without a full understanding of what it means. Without getting into a technical sense or whether used correctly, bandwidth in web hosting usually refers to the amount of data transferred to/from your website. Practically speaking, a large and popular site with thousands of visitors per month will use/require more bandwidth than a site with 100 visitors.

Domain Type

If you run only one website with one domain name, you don’t have to worry about the type of domain. However, if you want more than one domain or website, you have to decide how to treat your website: as an add-on, subdomain, parked domain, or redirect. If you want two separate websites, you’ll need to set up your domain as an add-on. If you want separate sites that operate under the same domain name, it counts as a subdomain. If you bought a domain name and don’t want to do anything with it yet, just set it up as parked. Finally, if you purchase two (or more) domain names that refer to the exact same site, you will want to redirect your other domains to the site containing the website files. For example, I bought a domain name solely to have a shorter domain name for email purposes, then redirected that url to show the main site.

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