Whilst putting a website live follows a few simple steps, there are a number of factors involved depending on if you have a current live site and where your domains are held. Let’s look through it.
The first thing to understand is where your domain is hosted. Your domain is your website address (e.g. detype.com) and is what tells the internet where your site is hosted. It’s possible to have a domain without a website, for example. Sometimes domain and web hosting are in the same place, but typically a domain will be registered through 123-Reg or similar domain provide, but also through some hosts such as GoDaddy or IONOS. If you have an IT company, they may well have the details.
Domains have DNS (Domain Name System) Records which are sets of instructions that to web servers, email mailboxes, or any aspect related to your domain such as authorising and verifying ownership to allow 3rd party services such as CRMs or suchlike to use your domain. MX records are typically for email routing, TXT records are for verification, and A and CNAME records generally control / instruct website IPs.
A layer of which can be complication sometimes, is the case of Nameservers. Broadly speaking, a Nameserver is what has the authority to control the DNS Records. If your emails are hosted separately from your site (or using Office365 or Gmail) it’s usually best to keep the Nameserver where your domain is hosted. You can however point the Nameserver at a separate hoisting service, and that’s where the DNS records will be kept. We usually advise clients to own their domain hosting themselves, so that they have the freedom to let IT teams or website developers access them to add or change DNS records.
Our process for putting a site live
DNS and URLs
We first begin with rewriting all the URLs on the site from our Development server, to the final Live destination URL. This takes the development site ‘offline’ ready for us to do the DNS changes.
DNS settings tell browsers where to look for the destination. If we are hosting your emails too, this usually means we change the Nameservers so ALL traffic goes to our server. Otherwise, if it’s website only, we just need the A Records and in some cases CNAME changing, to send www. and non www. web traffic to our server.
This can take a few hours to full resolve – this is due to all the hundreds of Internet Service Providers around the world needing to change where they are looking. We use to https://dnschecker.org/ track the progress.
Once the DNS has resolved, we then install the SSL certificate which secures your website, and progress to live checks.
We run several spot checks across the site to ensure everything is loading correctly and the formatting is correct for mobile and tablet view. If this is all fine, we’re onto optimisation.
As the web gets ever more powerful, users needs are top priority, and speed is the name of the game. Users don’t want to wait long for your flashy new site to load, despite them wanting to have a rich user experience once on there. As such, we run the new site through several page speed tests to identify any further optimisation. This has to be done on the live site so we can monitor it correctly.
There are a number of elements in play – minimising scripts for styling and actions, ensuring 3rd party scripts do not block the order of page load, crunching down larger images and managing their load times. We usually do this out of typical business hours to ensure any disruption to the live site is minimal, but it usually has no effect to the end user – other than improving speed!