Creating a website requires a team, and several people and organizations are involved in the creating of the website. In some cases, one person or organization may fulfil multiple roles, and in certain cases, some roles are optional.
For example, for smaller websites, the website owner may do everything themselves except domain registration and web hosting, which are provided by vendors like HostGator. For larger websites, you may have different people or vendors for each role.
To get the best support, and to know where to go for help, it helps to know what roles different people and organizations have.
This is the person or organization that owns and controls the website. They own the content, have editorial control over the website, and oversee everyone else involved in creating the website.
One necessary component of your website is the domain name. You will need to register your domain name with a domain registrar to reserve the domain name for your exclusive use. You register the name in one (1) year terms, and can renew the domain as long as you desire.
The domain registrar's role is to reserve the name for your use, and to give you the ability to change the name servers so that your domain points to your website at your web host. Sometimes they provide additional services, like DNS servers and WHOIS privacy protection.
Your web host provides the hardware and software infrastructure where your website will reside. This includes the server, server software and high speed internet connections to the server. Their role is to make sure the server is up, and you have the basic tools for your website (FTP, email server, web server, database, DNS, etc.).
The web host provides technical support for most of the hosting tools it provides. Some hosts limit support to making sure the server is up and running. HostGator makes sure the server is up too, but also provides technical support on how to use basic hosting tools, such as assistance logging in, setting up email accounts, uploading files via FTP, and setting up your DNS correctly.
Basically the web host provides the basic hosting tools for a website, and a web developer is the one who actually creates your website. While HostGator may try to be as helpful as possible, certain things like website coding and technical support for third-party scripts are actually the responsibility of the web developer and/or script authors.
Web Host Strategic Partners
Sometimes the domain registrar or web host will partner with a third party. For example, they may offer customers a free VoIP telephone number, or SEO Tools with certain accounts. Support for these types of things are actually provided by the strategic partner, rather than the web hosting company, even though the hosting company is running the promotion or bundling it with a hosting package.
The web developer is the person who is actually building the website. Sometimes this role is filled by the website owner, and sometimes the website owner hires someone to build the website.
The web developer's role is to create the website, either by coding it himself or by installing a third-party script and customizing it. They are also responsible for any technical support related to coding and customisations he performed.
The web developer also frequently configures the web hosting server, such as setting up email accounts, or modifying the DNS, although sometimes the website owner prefers to setup these things themselves.
Graphics designers create the look and feel of the website. This includes graphics, logo, branding, color scheme, etc.
Although some web developers also are graphics designers, they are actually two different specialities. If someone is both a web developer and a graphics designer, they usually do one better than the other. In some situations, it may be advisable to hire a graphics designer and a web developer, and let each person specialize in what they do best.
Script & Web Software Authors
If you use a script or web software, such as WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, OpenCart, Magento, phpBB, the author of the script's role is to write the script and typically provide some sort of support mechanism for their software. Sometimes this support mechanism can be email support, support forums and rarely telephone support.
If you are having problems with a specific script you installed, it is often best to contact the author of the script or use the support options they provide, when available. Keep in mind, the level of support typically correlates to how much you paid for the script. If you downloaded the script for free and paid less than $300, expect little or no official support, although they may provide free peer support via support forums on their website. Some high end solutions offer excellent support, and the price tag usually reflects this.
If you cannot get timely assistance directly from the author of the script, it may be useful to contact support groups related to that script.
For many scripts or web technologies, there are support groups available. There are online groups that frequently use some sort of forum software to communicate, as well as offline groups that physically meet up periodically. These support groups are populated with fellow users, and you can often get assistance just by asking. Some scripts and web technologies have a large user base, and it may be easy to find other people using them, while others are more obscure and it may be hard to find support groups or forums related to them.
Search Engine Optimization Specialist
One optional but popular role is SEO Specialist, who gives advice on how to optimize your website so that it appears on the first page of search engine searches for specific keywords. This is as much of an art as it is a science, and choosing a specialist may be the best choice. Although, a good web designer that knows the basics of SEO would incorporate SEO optimization elements into your website design.
If you choose someone to fulfil this role, just make sure that the person you pick is qualified and uses ethical tactics (known as white hat SEO). Using unethical tactics (known as black hat SEO) could get your website banned and have the undesired effect of unlisting your website from the search engines.
Marketing & Social Media Specialists
Once the site is built, it is time to promote it. There are a variety of ways to promote your site, and there are many people and companies that specialize in different times of marketing. This role can be filled by the website owner, or can be filled by any number of specialists.