by John Eberhard
When you decide to have your web site re-designed, there are some logistical considerations that you should be aware of.
Keeping the Same Hosting Company
If you have a web hosting account that you are happy with, then your web designer should create a new sub-folder on your web site and put the newly designed web site there. That way you can view what he is doing by putting in your web address plus the new folder, i.e. www.yourwebsite.com/new.>
In this way your web designer can build the new web site, and upload the files to the sub-folder, and you can look at it on your computer, give him edits or changes, and give him final approval before the new site is live.
Once you have a finalized design and content that you have approved, then your web designer can upload all the new files into the root folder and the new site will become live. He should also, before he uploads all the new files, download all your old files and keep them on his hard disk just in case anything goes wrong.
Switching Hosting Companies
If you are not happy with your hosting company for whatever reason, then the best thing is to have your web designer start a new hosting account and build the new site there. He will be able to give you a preview web address so you can view the new site while he is working on it.
I typically use GoDaddy and Hostgator for setting up new hosting accounts for client web sites. They are inexpensive ($5-8 per month) and I have had a good experience with both. GoDaddy’s basic hosting account is $5 per month and they have a “deluxe” hosting account for $8 per month where you can host multiple web sites for the same price.
While your web designer is working on the new site in the new hosting account, your old web site will still be live. Visitors to the site will still see your old site until you’re ready to make the switch.
Once you preview the new site and approve everything, now the switchover can occur. The way this is done is that you have to know where the web address was registered, i.e. Network Solutions, GoDaddy, Register.com, etc. And you have to have the login information for your account. Your account with one of the domain registrars is separate from your hosting account, though some companies like GoDaddy do both domain registration and hosting.
So once you find the domain registrar login information (I find most clients have to dig to find this) then you log into the account, and switch the DNS (domain name servers). This means that the web address, or domain, will now point to a different computer, the computer at your new hosting company that holds your new web site files.
There is a record, contained in every web server across the planet, that includes every single web address, and what computer the files for that web address are on. Let’s say your old hosting company for your www.mywidgets.com web site was located in New Jersey. That record would point to that specific computer inside the hosting company in New Jersey, and so every time someone would type in www.mywidgets.com, their computer would be directed to that computer in New Jersey and pull up the files from that computer.
So now let’s say your new hosting company is in Arizona. Once you switch the DNS, that record gets updated on every web server across the planet, and it now points to that new computer in Arizona. Now when someone types in your web address, they get directed to that computer in Arizona and the files get pulled from that computer.
When you switch the DNS, it takes about 24 hours for the records to be “propagated,” which means they get updated on every web server across the planet.
Good luck with your web site re-design.