There are a number of great apps and programs which you can use for managing a website. The task of designing, coding, uploading, and maintaining your own website can be a tremendous hassle if you are unfamiliar with the process. More experienced webmasters will eventually get into a routine and pick up their favorite apps along the way.
But I want to share just a few online resources and webapps – some of the most popular Mac tools – to help webmasters manage their sites efficiently. Some tools are more exciting than others but they all offer a tremendous value to average webmasters. I do use a few of these myself and once you fall into a normal routine the process becomes a lot easier. Hopefully these applications may be of use to at least a few developers around the globe.
Testing Your Websites
To code and build your own websites will generally require a local server on your computer. This is especially true if you are running on a CMS like WordPress or Locomotive. Now you could install each of these resources individually but it would certainly take a while. So why not expedite the process?
One of the most popular solutions is MAMP which stands for Mac, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. With this program you can run a local web server right from your computer and install any number of PHP/MySQL scripts for testing. It is a much cheaper alternative for testing your website before paying for a new web hosting account. After you are more experienced you may want to seek out more advanced software that incorporates automated software testing tools, cross browser testing, etc.
Just recently I found a very cool thread on Stack Overflow which discusses the process of installing Ruby on Rails to run over MAMP. You can easily connect into MySQL with a Ruby Gem, although Locomotive CMS actually uses MongoDB for the database. But either way it will only take a few hours to learn the ropes for managing your own local server.
Selecting a Web Host
Once you’ve got a website that is basically finished you will need a method to get everything published on the Internet. This topic comes up all the time and it is a difficult proposition. Unless you are setting up your own personal web server at home, you will need to pay for hosting. But where should you start? This question is hard to answer because each website will have a different need for hosting. Somebody’s small personal blog will not require as much server power as a bigger social networking platform or vBulletin forum.
My recommendation is BestHosting which is actually more of a comparison tool. You simply enter the details you want for your hosting(cloud vs dedicated vs shared, payment options, HDD space) and the tool will organize the best choices in an easy-to-read table. For most beginners you could select one of the cheaper hosting platforms and then move up from there. But I have never seen bad results through BestHosting and their website is rather impressive.
You might also consider checking out their website FAQ to answer some common offbeat questions. Hosting is a very important aspect to getting a website online. You want a host that will deal with problems as they come up. Hopefully somebody who will keep your site online 99% of the time regardless of server issues. Take the time to do your research and I promise you will not be disappointed!
Once you have a website ready and you’ve got the hosting platform, now you need to transfer all those files. It can take a long time if done manually. But there are some great tools out there for FTP apps on Mac. Free users will definitely want to pick up Cyberduck as it also handles SSH among other connection types.
But if you have a bit of money to shell out then I would recommend Transmit. They do have a free trial period but it’s more of a teaser than anything. I personally use Transmit for my MacBook computer and it is my go-to choice for all FTP/SFTP/SSH connections. Unfortunately not everybody will have the money to spend on this software so it is not the perfect solution. But otherwise try searching in Google for some other free tools and see what comes up.
Getting into managing your own website can be quite exhilarating. You are gifted with the process of organizing crucial information online, getting ranked into Google, and hopefully drawing interested visitors onto your website. But without your own starting toolset this entire process would be a huge undertaking. If you know about any similar tools or webapps feel free to share with us in the discussion area below.