To learn how to update a website you first need to know how the website is built. Some websites use a Content Management System (CMS), while others have their content hard-coded or use a custom system. Depending on your case, you will need to follow different approaches.
It depends on the website
The task of updating a website varies based on what kind of system your website is built upon. To give you an example, many (newer) websites are built using what is called a Content Management System (CMS). A CMS allows a person to easily update the content of a website without having to act directly on its files, usually via a control panel. Other (older) websites are built from scratch and their content is “hard-coded“, meaning that to change the content we have to modify the files of the website directly. Other more sophisticated websites are also created from scratch, but use a custom CMS system.
In the following paragraphs we explain a general approach of how you can update the content of a website, not its design or structure. If you are trying to change the design or do other major changes, you might need directions specific to your case. Get in touch and we’ll help you with that.
If you are not sure whether your website is using a CMS, try to follow these steps:
- Ask the people who created the website. They will know if the website is using a CMS and they should be able to provide you with instructions on how to access the control panel.
- Look at the bottom of your website. Sometimes there will be a label similar to “Powered by” or “Built with” that indicates what CMS your website is running with.
- Use a CMS detector. Type in your website’s address below.
If you find that your website is using a CMS, good news! Modifying your website is going to be as simple as accessing the control panel of your CMS and start editing things. You will need to know the access credentials to the CMS in order to do this. Ask the people who created your website. If you are not familiar with a particular CMS, the best place to start would be to simply research “how to get started with YOUR_CMS_NAME”.
The people who created your website should know the credentials, but, in case they forgot or for other reasons, you can always find them yourself as long as you have access to the files of the website.The files of your website are kept by a hosting provider (a company that hosts files and makes them available to the internet 24/7). To find out which company is currently hosting your website, type in your website’s address below.
From the detection results, look under “Name Servers”. It will look something like “ns###.hosting.com“. The last part of the name indicates the company that is currently hosting your website. Contact their support and explain that you forgot your credentials. Then search on Google instructions on how to reset the password of your CMS using keywords like “reset password NAME_OF_YOUR_CMS”.
If your website is not using a CMS, it might be that the content is “hard-coded” into the files. To update the website you will need to access your hosting’s control panel and look for a “File Explorer” utility (or a similar name). This utility allows you to browse the files of the website and make changes. Usually, the files of your website are located in a “public_html” folder. Once you have located them, see if by opening them you recognize any piece of text that comes from your website. If so, it’s probably safe to change the text parts of these files to update the information you need. For example, if you want to change a phone number, look for your old phone number and replace it with the new one. It probably will not break things. Just make sure to make a copy of the files before you make any changes.
Do NOT change the gibberish looking code from these files (unless you know what you are doing). Changing the code could impact the functioning of the website. For example, if you have a phone number looking like: <span class=”phone-number”>(123)123-1234</span>, make sure to change only the phone number and leave the <span class=”… part as it is!
If you cannot identify any text from your website within the files, it’s likely that the website uses a custom system for managing the content and that the information you are trying to update comes from a database or some other source. Unfortunately, no specific instructions can be written for a custom work. Try to ask the people who created your website if they can tell you how to go about updating it.