We get the question; “How can I make changes to our website?” a lot these days.
As a website development agency, we speak to a lot of clients and prospects daily looking to get a new website done or an existing website re-designed.
A lot of clients, either because they have a lot of information that has to be changed regularly on the website or they don’t have a budget for maintenance (not advisable) always want to know if they can make changes to their websites themselves.
The short answer to this is Yes.
The long answer is: Making changes to your website is possible but depending on how your Website was built, it might be difficult and at times you might end up destroying the codebase of the website which would cost money to fix.
For the purpose of this post, there are basically three broad ways in which websites are built by agencies and ordered by ease of making changes they are:
We would go through a brief summary of how this can be done with each option. Please note for the second and third types there is a high risk of causing damage in the process:
A lot of the websites we come across are built with Content Management Systems (CMS) and for anyone with limited web knowledge, these are the easiest websites to update.
Some CMS used popularly are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal and a lot of agencies also write their own Custom CMS.
If your website is built with a CMS, then you simply need to ask your agency for an admin, moderator or editor login as well as the link to login to the admin backend (which differs per solution). The backend of one of the most popular CMS’s (WordPress) is shown below.
You can login with this and make edits to your content and information the CMS gives you access to. Please note some parts of the website might still need a professional to make edits.
For a lot of simple websites with no need for constant changing of content, using a CMS is overkill and adds a lot of bloat that can impact on speed.
Making edits to this type of website requires you have a Text editor, some popular ones which are notepad++, Atom, Coda and Visual Studio Code. Hosting panels like CPanel and Direct Admin which some webhosts use also come with a bundled text editor which can serve the purpose.
To make edits to this type of website you would need FTP (File Transfer Protocol) access to where the website files are saved. This can be the username and password to the cPanel or DirectAdmin filemanager with a link where to login or a plain FTP login with the host name, username and password and port which you can access using free software like FileZilla.
When you have this access, simply download the page of the website you want to edit via FTP to your text editor, make changes to the text and re upload the page to your server, erasing the old version.
For this type of website, the file to edit is usually named the same as the web url you are viewing it from.
Refresh the webpage to confirm everything loads as intended.
Except you are very adventurous it is not advisable to attempt edits on this kind of website without basic knowledge of the programming language it was built with.
A dynamic website is one where the content can change depending on who visits the website and other factors programmed into it.
An example is something like Facebook where the homepage content changes as more people make posts and comments as well as our blog.
For the purpose of this post, we would be looking at an example built with PHP which is a popular, dynamic server side scripting language used by millions of websites worldwide.
A typical basic and simple Dynamic PHP page would look like the image below:
As you can see, it looks like a basic HTML page. Rather than have everything written on the same page, it “includes” other files. These files can be changed as necessary (using conditionals). You can edit this type of Website using the process from the previous example (FTP and text editor)
In a page like this, you find the content on the main page. You can also search for the relevant included files in your file manager to edit what you need to.
So that’s about it! depending on your risk appetite and available time, you can almost always update your Business Website yourself!
If you would like to save the time and have a professional do it though, you can always Contact Us