Finding a web host

You still want a website and you worked out why and what your site must look like to draw visitors. How do you get it up and running?

I haven’t even written anything about a title for your site, because the title will, to an extent, be determined by the availability of your domain name.

But before we even get there, it is important to know if you want to build a website from scratch or go with a content management system like WordPress. These articles are mainly about WordPress, so if you use something else, The Dabbler won’t be able to help you.

So you are going to use WordPress. Did you know that there are two versions of WordPress? The one is WordPress.com and the other one is WordPress.org. Which one are you going to use and what are the key differences between the two?

The key cons of the wordpress.com site is summarised below. This comes from an article in the “further reading” section of this article.

The best way to think about the differences between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org is the analogy of renting a house vs. owning a house.
WordPress.com is similar to renting a house. You have limited power and control over what you can and cannot do.
WordPress.org is like owning a house. Where you have full control, no one can kick you out, and you can do anything that you want.

Guess which one The Dabbler chose

If you decided to use Wordweb.com, you will still find these articles of use. Maybe not the next part, but in the next couple we will be looking at how to use your screen reader to add content, update your website, how to use the dashboard and many other topics of interest. But before you start clapping your hands in happy anticipation, please read this article. Maybe it will make you see things from a different perspective. Please note: This was written in 2014. Since then prices has gone up.

If the above article made you change your mind, then rad on

Checking the availability of your domain name

You decided not to use WordPress.com. Great stuff! Now the real fun starts.

There are domain registrars on the web where you can enter domain names in a little search box. The one that The Dabbler uses is called Register Domain.

There you can use your screen reader to navigate to the “register domain” section, phill out the little form, press submit and then complete the captcha challenge (this is of course, 100% accessible). There are also other sites like Go Daddy that does the same thing, but do your homework! Some are cheaper than others.

Your site title is linked to your domain name (sort of). If you have a site that sells grass (and I don’t mean the smokable kind), and you call it for example “Blue shade relaxation), you are going to get the wrong sort of visitors. Instead of getting potential grass planters, you are going to get people looking for a holiday resort. What about “John’s green, green grass for homes”? Do you see what I’m getting at?

Finding a web host

This is the hard part. There are many companies out there that offer you the sun, moon and stars if only you would be so kind as to host your website on their servers. And you know what’s the best part of all? All of them guarantee 99.9% uptime. Many of them are free!

But what’s the catch?

Mamma Dabbler tought her son that there is no such thing as a free lunch. This is true with web hosting companies as well. Read the fine print. For some you need to pay if you have your own domains. For others you get a sub domain — sometimes with the most terrible suffixes. On the hunt for a good dabbling spot, TheDabbler saw subdomains that looks like this: thedabbler.myonlinepress.com or thedabbler.shop-online.com. Who, besides the site owner, will ever remember such a URL?

You have decided to go for a paid plan. There are many South African hosting companies that offer cheap (they call it affordable, because cheap is a dirty word) services. Do your homework carefully! If you want to, you, you may buy a web service from overseas and pay in their currency. The Dabbler strongly advise against this. The Rand is a very unstable currency which means that your $2.99 hosting plan may cost you more than what a local company would charge you for a similar service.

On the hunt for for a web host, The Dabbler came across companies that offers web hosting for as little as R5.99 per month. It’s useless. Why? They only offer you 50 MB disk space and no mySQL database. Without that, wordpress cannot and will not function.

The Dabbler uses Register Domain’s web hosting plans. It’s “affordable”, support is great and their CPannel is (mostly) accessible via a screen reader.

Things to look out for when finding a web host

The following things may be of use when you are trying to find a web host:

  • Price;
  • FTP access for uploading files to your site;
  • Can you use your domain on their infrastructure (some foreign hosts don’t allow .co.za domains);
  • The amount of disk space you get (when you upload pictures, audio and video, the disk space gets eaten up quickly);
  • Do they allow a WordPress website;
  • If they do allow it, do they offer one click installers;
  • Are you allowed to have your own emails for your website;
  • How many databases may you have (you may think one is enough, but it is most emphatically not);
  • If you sell products or services, do they offer SSL options; and
  • What are their support hours

What about accessibility? Ask them. If you are lucky, you will get a support person that will try to understand what you are saying. If not, you will get a shrug and a “I really can’t say”. Remember that they use pre-built tools like PHP MyAdmin and CPannel. The accessibility of these tools vary from version to version. If you can’t manage them, The Dabbler is available to help you out.

For many of these tools, work arounds are available.

Please share this post. This is how The Dabbler gets more visitors.

Further reading

The Dabbler is not a spoon feeder. In this section you will find links to articles that helped bring about this site. This is The Dabbler’s way of thanking those authors and you may find them useful as well.

Until next time, happy blogging.

Why do you want a website?

So, you want a website? In this section we are going to look at why you want a website. This question is important, because it will influence the look and feel of your wibsite.

Why do you want a website or blog? There are millions of other websites and blogs, many with large user bases and many others selling or promoting services. Why do you want to join them?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I going to sell a unique product or offer a unique service?
  • Am I going to educate people in one form or another by providing tutorials etcetera?
  • Am I going to have a blog that tells people about me, myself and my holiday or my life?

If you are going to offer a service or sell products, you need to do your research about e-commerce, how it works and what is the most affordable and safest options. You are going to work with other people’s money, so you need to have a website that is not only strong, secure and thief-proof, but also accessible to all different sorts of people.

If you are going to offer an educational website with tutorials and podcasts or videos, you need to ask yourself if your tutorials are going to be unique. Why should a visitor come to your site if they can find it on, for example, Youtube?

For a blog the same question applies: What is going to differentiate your blog from the million others out there? Are people going to care about you and your cats or the story about how you visited granny last December. The Dabbler has nothing against these stories; in fact, he loves them. But the question is then: Why not use Facebook or any of the other micro blogging services? It’s far easier than making a website from scratch.

Once you have answered these questions to your own satisfaction, it is time to start thinking about a webhost. We will be looking at that topic in the next episode. That is also when the real fun starts as a good web host must, for The Dabbler at least, fulfill a number of criteria. Untill next time, happy blogging.

If you have a Twitter or Facebook account, please help spread the word by sharing this post. And, as always, all comments are welcome.

How to build a website with a screen reader | Introduction

Welcome to the “Build a website with a screen reader“-series. In this series The Dabbler is going to attempt to show people with vision loss as well as those with normal site, how to build a website with a screen reader and WordPress.

Many people will ask why it’s necessary to have a series of tutorials on doing this: WordPress is, afterall, a very easy system to use. This is true, but if you use a screen reader, it’s a bit different. Screen readers reads everything on a website from top to bottom and it is hard to get an idea of the bigger picture. This picture is obvious to people with site, because they can see, at a glance, what is happening on the screen.

This presents a challenge to the screen reader user. The documentation on the WordPress site is written for people with vission in mind. And while many WordPress themes are accessible, there are ways in which accessibility can be improved. In this series of articles, The Dabbler will show you which plugins to install (these are usually or mostly accessible), which themes The Dabbler likes and how to customise your WordPress site.

In the next article we will be looking at how to start a website. For now, happy reading and if you have comments or topics you’d like The Dabbler to discuss, please leave a comment.

If you find this article helpful, please help spread the love and share it.