Web history publishing

Page 3 – Technical issues

Technical issues

DIY or employ a designer?

Hiring an expert to develop a site is usually best, particularly if you plan to integrate sound, video and other rich media into it. Not everyone has the money to produce their dream specifications. Do your research thoroughly. If you have predicted your requirements accurately, website design need not be complex or daunting. There are many helpful websites and manuals.

If you decide to do it yourself, you can build a simple flat HyperText Markup Language (HTML) site in a few hours. Again, do your homework first; carefully consider issues such as site architecture and navigation before putting finger to keyboard.

Some people hard script a site (writing it in code only), but the easier path is to use web-design software. Common examples of these are Adobe/Macromedia's Dreamweaver or Microsoft FrontPage. By offering numerous ready-made site templates, such tools take the hard work out of building a site. There are plenty of courses that teach these software packages.


The first technical issue is your hosting environment – the web server where your website's files will live.

Should you choose free or paid hosting? Free hosting ranges from the small HTML-only site with small bandwidth quotas through to larger Content Management System (CMS) sites. Typically, free-hosting options have space and bandwidth limitations, annoying banner ads and give you little or any control over your site's URL (domain name). But they do save having to re-register every year.

Wikis and blogs are better free options for smaller sites. A wiki is a server software that allows you to freely create and edit web-page content using any web browser. A blog is a type of website where entries are displayed in reverse chronological order, that is, with the latest entry first. Most blogs are mainly text although some allow the use of other media. Wikis and blogs are very easy to use, but you cannot do much to customise their structure and design. If you want a site with a distinct flavour, a wiki or blog may disappoint you.

Paid hosting offers greater flexibility, power and scalability, but it can also require more work to build and maintain a site. Many Internet service providers (ISPs) include a basic website package in their standard email plans. These are fine for a simple websites containing a few pages of text and images. Contact your ISP for more information about these.

Hosting plans generally begin at around $NZD15, but if you are planning a large multimedia site, it will cost much more. You will also have to register your domain name. This generally costs $NZ50–100 each year, and many web hosts offer it as a part of their service. Keep your domain name simple – an obvious, easy-to-remember URL will attract more site traffic.

Site design, building and maintenance

The two main options for publishing a web page are flat HTML or a CMS. Flat HTML sites are easier to build, but they can take time to maintain and update. CMS-based systems are harder to build, but they are easier to maintain and update. They are also most useful for large sites (over 20 pages) that will be updated regularly. Use a CMS only if you have good technical skills or if you are hiring an expert to build your site.

How to cite this page

'Technical issues', URL: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/hands/web-history-publishing/technical-stuff, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 17-May-2017