Web hosting & URLs

Step 5: Before you can start building your site, you will need to organise web hosting

Web hosting is where you put your files for the site on a server and the URL is the address that points to your site. By this stage you should have already chosen your system (eg PHP, Drupal) as this will influence how your hosting is set up.

Your local area may well be able to organise hosting for your website (they might even build it for you), but if you are not in a College or area with a web team, you can enquire about web hosting by logging an IT Service Desk job. This might also be a good time to ask about getting a website address.

Setting up a development environment

When you are setting up your hosting, we recommend thinking about your development environment. As the name suggests, a development environment is a copy of your website that you can work on privately so that you can test any changes before they go live.

Dev, acep & prod

Many projects use three environments: development, acceptance (or staging) and production (the live site). The way you set these up and keep each environment in sync depends on the system you are using, so we recommend asking your local IT support staff if you need advice.

Version control

If several people work on the same website, you might also set up multiple development environments so that each person can add and test changes without interfering with anyone else's changes. Keeping everyone's development environment in sync, as well as the acceptance and production environments, can be done through version control. Popular tools include git and Subversion (SVN).

Search engines

Finally, after setting up your development environment you might find that it is being indexed by search engines such as the ANU search (Funnelback) or Google. To fix this, you can use a robots.txt file and also consider password protecting the website directory (ask your local IT support staff).

Getting a website address

What makes a good URL?

Website addresses (or URLs) for ANU-branded sites use the anu.edu.au domain. The site name is then represented in the subdomain (eg sitename.anu.edu.au) or in a subdirectory (eg anu.edu.au/sitename or collegename.anu.edu.au/sitename). It is best to use a shortened version of the site name so that it is easier for people to type and remember.

How to request a URL

To request a URL, log a job in the IT Service Desk. Alternatively, your local area might handle this for you.

Spaces in URLs

URLs should not contain spaces as this can cause problems. Instead remove the spaces or use hyphens. Underscores are not recommended as links are often displayed with underlines which can hide the underscores.

Updated:  17 July 2013/ Responsible Officer:  Director Marketing/ Page Contact:  Webstyle