Web site design/hosting etc

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Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:06 pm

Looking to create a website for my dad's business. Google turns up results on the basics, but I'd rather get the recommendations of respectable gerbils before I go spending money on domain registration and web hosting. Money is available for these things, but I'd rather keep cost as low as possible.

My old man is a general contractor doing mostly high-end custom homes and renovations. So this needs to be visually appealing. Contents of the site need to be a short "about" section, contact info and lots of picture gallery's. Maybe a "like us on facebook" link.

Open to any tips, particularly on where to start.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Fri Feb 03, 2012 9:28 pm

What's your skill/experience level? Are you planning to design the site yourself, or are you looking for someone to do the site for you? I assume you're looking for a simple "shared hosting" type of arrangement, since it tends to be the most cost-effective of the managed hosting solutions. The main downside of a shared hosting arrangement is lack of SSL (HTTPS) support, since you need a globally unique IP address for SSL to work; but since you're probably not going to be accepting credit card payments over the web this shouldn't be a showstopper.

If you've got a broadband connection with a static IP you could even host it yourself to save the hosting charges... all you'd need to pay for is the domain registration. But unless you've got "business class" service you're probably on a dynamic IP...

FWIW DreamHost gets good reviews.

Edit: Looks like DreamHost offers a dedicated IP as an option even on their shared hosting plans, so my comment about (lack of) HTTPS support may not apply, depending on the hosting service used.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:03 pm

I was hoping to do the design myself. I have very limited experience, but I'd like to learn.

I'm not opposed to hosting it myself. That actually was a thought I'd had; my htpc/nas is on all the time anyways (may need to beef it up). Unfortunately i am on a dynamic ip. Might be worthwhile investigating how much it would cost to bump to a business class; if the increased cost isnt that much more than the cost of webhosting its worth considering.

Definitely not doing any payments over the web; its mostly just so potential customers can look at what projects we've done and it makes information available for people moving to the area.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:47 pm

Best deal (and best company to deal with all around) for web hosting and/or virtual hosting is AllGamer.net

Pricing starts at $2.50/mo for web hosting: https://allgamer.net/web-hosting

Pricing starts at $15/mo for virtual server hosting: https://allgamer.net/virtual-servers

And if you really wanna get crazy (which I know you don't), there's dedicated physical server hosting: https://allgamer.net/dedicated-servers

I host http://www.thegleek.com/ entirely with these guys for $15/mo. I get a FULL Debian 64-bit Linux server hosted with shell account and anything my heart desires to install on there.

These are all, of course, Linux based options. Pricing for windows hosting is far too expensive anyways, and besides websites are best served up on a Linux platter. 8)
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:43 am

so hosting should be pretty cheap. any suggestions on web designing ?
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:26 am

If you want to do it from the ground up, start reading up on HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. If you want to use a high-level CMS with pre-designed templates there are a bazillion choices (which I'm not really qualified to help you sort out).

Something I would consider doing is setting up a test box (or a VM) to start learning all this stuff at home. You don't need a hosting service or domain name to do that, so you wouldn't need to start paying until you're nearly ready to roll out the site for real.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:02 am

Dreamhost is good. Their one click install for Wordpress is one way you can set up a website such as you describe with minimal effort and Dreamhost will keep the Wordpress software updated.

1&1 offers a website construction tool that is typical of the 'website for dummies' thing that is intended to help newbies put up a decent looking website. If I understand it right, they even have templates based on type of business.

Then there are companies that specialize in store-fronts and have all sorts of support for Mom & Pop type businesses trying to create a web presence. (I got a 'free lunch' from a presentation by one of these passing through town hawking their wares, once! interesting business)

Offline, there are all sorts of web site building applications ranging from FOSS to extremely expensive.

Complexity and maintenance are your killers. They are reasons why Wordpress can be a good starting point. Yes, it is blog software but it also provides most of the features needed to set up a decent template driven website that you can use to develop your 'chops.' It is also portable, database driven, and FOSS which is an advantage (in my eyes, anyway) over the more proprietary website building systems. It is also simpler than the typical CMS (content management systems) like Joomla that are often used to build websites. The way Dreamhost installs and maintains Wordpress (or Joomla or some other similar web apps) takes a lot of the startup hassles out of the picture. Features of this sort are one criteria to use in evaluating web hosting services, I think. As for Wordpress websites, search around and you should be able to find many examples and a lot of discussion.

Where I have had the most difficulty is in trying to get some to understand that a website is not a 'set and forget' sort of thing. It needs proper business support in terms of defining the goals, purpose and focus; ongoing content contributions; and effective ongoing budgeting (which can be significant). As with any marketing or communication tool, the expertise of professionals cannot be underestimated (but, as with a lot of technical stuff, easily faked at a surface level). A lack of respect for what it takes to make an excellent business website is one reason a learning process can be painful.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 11:39 am

bryanl wrote:Offline, there are all sorts of web site building applications ranging from FOSS to extremely expensive.

Complexity and maintenance are your killers. They are reasons why Wordpress can be a good starting point. Yes, it is blog software but it also provides most of the features needed to set up a decent template driven website that you can use to develop your 'chops.' It is also portable, database driven, and FOSS which is an advantage (in my eyes, anyway) over the more proprietary website building systems.

It's also a big advantage if you want to do as I suggested in my previous post and try this stuff out at home before rolling out the site for real. All of the major FOSS CMSes are already in the software repositories of the major Linux distros, so once you've got the test server (whether a real one or just a VM running on your existing desktop) set up, installing your choice of CMS is fairly straightforward.

You've said you are interested in learning, but how deep into this do you *really* want to get?
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 4:52 pm

just brew it! wrote:You've said you are interested in learning, but how deep into this do you *really* want to get?

At this point, somewhere around 20-40 hours max. That will still take me at least a month to find the time for (although we're going to visit the inlaws for a week soon, so i may have a lot of time on my hands while i'm there)

I'd prefer to stick with something I can develop and host with windows; trying to learn a linux distro at the same time might be a bit much. Checking out 1&1 (i'd love to be able to play around with it before paying for anything :/ ) and wordpress. It doesnt need to be a complex site by any means; mostly just a photo gallery and contact information. My dad has been running on word-of-mouth advertising for 28 years and he's often backlogged 2+ years on projects. Its not going to be an ongoing blog, but every 4-6 months I'd like to add pictures from the latest projects and update any relevant information.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:00 pm

Something to consider: A commercial Windows hosting service will cost you more than an equivalent Linux-based one. And if you're using a CMS (like WordPress) you'll be (mostly) insulated from underlying OS issues anyway...
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:37 pm

I take back what I said about hosting costs. 1&1 has some very cheap (as cheap as their Linux plans) Windows solutions as well. Not sure how performance compares, but for a low traffic site it shouldn't make much difference.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 5:56 pm

is there any way to do the web design for preview before signing on the dotted line with them? i guess i could preview the "personal" web service which seems to be free
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:00 pm

1&1 also seems to have abysmal reviews (the vocal pissed off minority i'm sure)
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:13 pm

IMO you *really* ought to play with the tools locally first, to get a feel for how they work.

I'd probably be willing to put together a basic WordPress "virtual appliance" you can just load up into a copy of VirtualBox. I've kind of been meaning to learn a bit about WordPress myself anyway...
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:17 pm

loading up wordpress via M$ web platform right now
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 04, 2012 6:20 pm

Well there you go then... :wink:
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sat Feb 11, 2012 11:51 pm

For website design, click here.
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Re: Web site design/hosting etc

Postposted on Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:41 am

I just finished setting up a website for a local church. I used 1&1 for hosting and Wordpress for the CMS. I am very happy with both the hosting and Wordpress. But note: the 1&1 "one-click install" of Wordpress is not the latest version and the in-place update failed multiple times. So just go with a manual install from the beginning. Also, the Microsoft WebMatrix "publish" feature did not work, so I had to redo a lot of work that was done on my local machine.
I originally had signed up for hosting with Dreamhost, but the account just sat there "Pending" for over 48 hours. They wouldn't say why it was "Pending", and all requests for an answer were ignored. 1&1 had the domain registered and my account ready to go within 2 hours of signup.
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