I sat down to write this post about FTP and figured I would make a video about how to do it. But like any good (lazy) engineer, I went first to see what I could find on youtube. All the videos sucked. That’s not because they didn’t show you how to FTP. Instead it’s because they sorely missed the point.
What is the point?
The people that are looking for a tutorial about FTP often don’t know the ‘basics’. When you tell them to type the ‘host’ in here, and ‘navigate’ to this folder, and ‘set permissions’ there… Well, it just doesn’t mean anything. The first video that I watched used at least a half a dozen words in the first 30 seconds that most regular users just don’t get.
So I decided to change my approach. Rather than teach you about FTP, I’d rather tell you why you shouldn’t ever use FTP again. Huh?
Let’s start out with a simple question. At the moment you decided to learn how to FTP something up to your server, what were you trying to accomplish? I think it’s very unlikely that you were sitting down to figure out how FTP works and how to use it to get stuff up to your website.
Instead, I bet you were trying to communicate with your audience/clients/visitors. That’s a really important distinction. You don’t want to know how to FTP. You want to communicate with people. So how can you ditch the FTP and start communicating with your clients?
Use a blog
The absolute best way I can think of is to use a blog. With most modern hosting accounts you can install a blog without FTP, without database setup and without needing to use any tool other than your web browser (I recommend Google Chrome, by the way). You literally just click a few buttons and you’re done! Once it’s done then you use a web browser, from anywhere in the world, to communicate with people.
If you’re thinking that a blog would be great except that you still need to upload pictures and videos and so you can’t get around FTP, then you’re wrong. WordPress has little “easy buttons” that let you find the file on your computer and it puts it right in where it belongs. As far as video, you can now just paste a link to a youtube video and WordPress will take care of the rest.
There are special cases when you need to FTP something up to your server, but those are more rare. When that moment comes along, do yourself a favor and hire your kids to figure it out for you. If you don’t have kids at home, find a neighbor that’s in high school and have them give you a hand. The $10 you pay them will be a huge prize and you can keep your hands clean of all the dirty work.
Keep your eye on the real prize
Don’t forget the real purpose of your website is to communicate with your target audience. Do yourself (and your site visitors) a favor. Stop trying to figure out how to FTP stuff up to your server and instead figure out how to use WordPress. Then go on to provide the content that they want. That’s the real gem!
(photo by Gabriella Fabbri)