Web Hosting Distinctions

There’s a confusing thing that has come up with several clients who don’t know all the intricacies of website work (completely understandably; that’s why they pay me). When we talk about hosting services around website work, there are a few different things we could be referring to: the domain, the DNS, the website content, and email. To make it more confusing, sometimes all of them are with the same provider and other times they’ve divided up in different combinations.

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“This Page Can’t Load Google Maps Correctly”

You may be browsing a website – your own or somebody else’s – and see this error:

“This page can’t load Google Maps correctly. Do you own this website?”

It also has “For development purposes only” as a watermark repeating over the whole map.

This error has become pretty common in the past few years. It comes out of a change in Google policies. Previously, you could use the Google Maps API to put a map on your website with no extra charge. You did not need to have a credit card on the Google account. That has changed. There’s no notification, so you won’t notice this unless you happen to visit the map on your website again, which most people rarely do after it’s been designed.

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My Web Development Workflow

When I work on a website, especially once I need to deploy some custom code, I have several tools at my disposal I want to set up. Here’s what those tools and that setup process looks like. For the purpose of this post, I’m assuming I already have the SFTP and SSH credentials from the website host.

SSH keys

The one-time need is to prepare my SSH keys. This requires three files which can be created with PuTTYgen, part of the package that comes with PuTTY.

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Accessibility in WordPress

Accessibility is an important part of designing a website. You want your site to be usable to as many people as possible, right? Here are some things to consider as you develop a WordPress site to make it as accessible as you can.

Testing with WAVE

The best tool for testing out a website is the WAVE evaluation tool, which is available as an extension for your browser. It will scan the code of the page and tell you any accessibility problems it finds, flagging them with different levels of seriousness. It also has a section for contrast issues when the foreground colour of text is too close to the background colour.

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Visual Studio Code: Remote SSH Development

One of the greatest improvements to my website development workflow came the day I discovered I could directly code on a web server in Visual Studio Code. Before this realization I was opening files with FileZilla, which worked but took a few clicks for each change:

  1. Browse to file in FileZilla
  2. Double-click to prompt opening in Code
  3. Switch over to Code, make changes, and save the file
  4. Switch back to FileZilla
  5. Say yes on the prompt to upload the change
  6. Test in browser to see if it did what I wanted it to do
  7. Repeat 3-6 if necessary for next change
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Using GitHub from Visual Studio Code

Working in Visual Studio Code but need that connected to your GitHub repository? No problem. Getting connected to GitHub from Visual Studio Code is straightforward. It’s also possible to connect to other Git servers, but the authentication process is a bit more complicated, so I’ll stick to GitHub which is now my primary code repository. I’m also sticking with Windows, but the general idea is the same for other platforms with Code.

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WordPress: .com vs .org

For years I’ve built most of my sites using the open source WordPress platform, i.e. I recently decided to try the free offering of instead.


Setup is significantly easier on If you already have a web host, setting up your own may not be much extra work, but if this first time setting up a website, there is always some degree of hosting configuration to go through before installing WordPress. I won’t detail those steps here and they will vary by the hosting provider, but at minimum you’ll need to pick a hosting provider, set up payment, buy a domain or point an existing domain to it, and install WordPress. It might be much more complicated like setting up databases, uploading the WordPress code yourself, and so on.

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