A Guide to Launching a Website

We know web lingo can sound a little daunting.

But broken down to its essential components, the process of launching a website is actually pretty simple: Launching is the process of pushing a website “live” -- moving it from a draft to published. Technically speaking, launching means moving the site from a development environment to a hosting environment. But let’s break down those terms.

While being built, your site will live in a development environment,

or dev site (as we call it). This is where the website is built and edited by the project team before launch. While in the dev-stage, the site has a “dev” domain (or DNS) & URL, and is thus not easy to find by visitors. For example, the dev site for Online Card Classes had this URL during its dev stage: www.onlinecardclasses.KMdev.com/. In other words, the domain exists through the “KMdev” domain. During this stage, the site is password-protected, so only those with access can even view or edit the site.

Once it's time to launch, your site is moved to a live environment.

In order to launch your site, the site must be moved from the KMdev domain, or dev environment, to its permanent domain, or live environment. A live environment is the site’s permanent domain or URL, and where your site will officially live from here on out. In the Online Card Classes example, “KMdev” is dropped from the URL, and so the URL is now simply http://www.onlinecardclasses.com. The site is no longer password-protected, and the common visitor will now be able to search for or stumble upon the site’s URL.

Launching a site is not possible without purchasing a domain/DNS from a hosting provider. Here are the ones we typically recommend:

  • Media Temple
  • Digital Ocean
  • Rackspace

Terms to understand:

  • DNS = Domain Name System. A hierarchical system for naming computers and network services (i.e. websites). “The World Wide Web depends on DNS for user-friendly navigation. You could get to a Web site by entering the IP address of a site in your Web browser, but remembering lots of arbitrary numbers isn’t easy for most folks. It’s much easier to remember a DNS name for a Web site that reflects its content, such as http://www.yahoo.com or http://www.microsoft.com.”
  • Server = Where all websites’ databases & files are stored
  • CMS = Content Management System. A platform for creating and modifying a website. Serves as the development environment for our clients. We prefer and encourage our clients to go with Wordpress for their site’s CMS. Other examples: Drupal, Umbraco, Magento.
  • IP Address = A numerical label assigned to each device (i.e. computer, printer) or network service (i.e. websites). DNS Links meaningful names, such as http://www.microsoft.com, to a specific IP address, such as

Here's an analogy to help all of those terms make a little more sense: A Domain/DNS is like buying land (online real estate), but you haven’t built anything on that land yet! The Server is your house (the host!). Then you need to connect house to land and that is your IP Address.