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Questions on Web development software and hosting

Discussion in 'Newbie Helpdesk' started by Jenn1989, Aug 14, 2007.

  1. Jenn1989

    Jenn1989 Affiliate affiliate

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    Okay, I've read all the sticky notes, spent the last four-and-a-half days reading everything I can find that looks helpful, and I have a few questions for anyone that can help me.

    First about web design software. I have Dreamweaver MX 2004 and am halfway through a set of DVD tutorials on how to use it. I also looked at SBI (Site Build It) for site development/hosting. They are on the expensive side for me but if it would be much easier to design a website with them and get up and running, that's really tempting. But I don't think "tempting" is going to convince my husband that 299$ we don't really have to spare right now is a deal. So any other benefits I may have missed while going through their website you can share will be appreciated. I've read that SBI is a good program, but would like to hear from people who actually use it.
    1) How easy is the software to set up a site with SBI program?
    2) How is their uptime/downtime?
    3) Is it really unlimited bandwidth (I've been reading the stories about sites getting shut down when they hadn't even reached their maximum bandwidth yet), because eventually the first site I want to develop could get quite large and have a very active forum (I hope :) )
    4) Should I just keep trying with Dreamweaver and pick a less expensive host until I start making $ off my site? The site is on a very popular and competitive topic, but I would be developing it on an angle that won't have much competition in terms of what's offered from the site, so I really don't know how long it would be before I could start making $ from it.
    5) If it turns out SBI isn't for me yet, what are your thoughts on Bluehost and Hostican as far as reliability, customer service, past experiences you've had, anything you think might help me choose.

    I think I'd better save my other questions for another post. Sorry this got so long. Thank you for any suggestions or experiences you can share with me.

    Jenn
     
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  3. Klaas Koopman

    Klaas Koopman Affiliate affiliate

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    Sorry I have never used site build it, but seems quite expensive, it can be done cheaper!

    I have had a Hosting Company 1,5 years ago and believe me, unlimited bandwith is rubbish and not true! Some hosts that do offer this soon notice that this isn't profitable enough on some sites and shot them off... so my advice stay away from hosts/sites that say they can offer unlimited bandwidth. There is always a limit!

    I'd say, get a host for like $1 a month, a domain name for $7 a year and in total it only costs you around $20 a year, which isn't alot! If you do not earn $20 a year, it's not your business and you make a loss. But believe me, even my sites that are not active earn more then $20 a year, so it's a profit. And if you think you can make it big, try to get a cheap hosting account at a webhost with good reputation, and possibility to upgrade your account ( once it gets active )

    To be honest, never heard of Hostican. There are loads of great hosts, if you want I can help you find a good one, cause I'm going to look for myself again aswell.
     
  4. Larwee

    Larwee <b><font size=2>In Memoriam - Loyal Administrator< affiliate

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  5. Linda Buquet

    Linda Buquet <span style="color: #daa520;font-weight: bold;">Me

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    Hi Jenn,

    SBI is more of a complete system with training and "systems" in place to help you get started. For some it works wonders, others would possibly rather take longer but have more freedom to do it their own way.

    We have 2 very strong and vocal SBI people, hopefully they will come and weigh in.

    If you decide to do it yourself you are on the right track using Dreamweaver.

    Re hosts - read the threads Larwee gave and then BE SURE on the 2 hosts you mention or any other you may consider to do a search at webhostingtalk.com for xyz host uptime, xyz host downtime, XYZ support, XYZ problems and XYZ reviews. THEN once you think you've narrowed it down Google "XYZ sucks".

    Realize that all hosts even the big top brands have a few unhappy customers there is no perfect host, so you need to look for general consensus from lots of people. Also some are better at certain types of hosting. Additionally look at dates of reviews because some hosts were good when they started, then began overselling and everything including uptime and support went downhill.

    I would NEVER go with a $1 host. Maybe for a throw away or test site. But it sounds like you have high hopes for this site and commitment to make it work. Last thing you want is for it to go down once it's earning and moving hosts is NOT that easy. You get what you pay for and hosting is the last place I would skimp.

    NOTE: My hosting comments come from lots of experience and it's heart-felt advice. But it's like if I were harping about how important it is to back up your PC. You think ya right, I know. But until you crash and lose data, time and important info you don't fully realize how important back ups are. Hosting problems can be a nightmare, so if you want to sleep at night thoroughly research and find a good host.
     
  6. TheCaymanHost

    TheCaymanHost Affiliate affiliate

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    Hi Jenn

    I completely concur with Linda's advice and Larwee's references regarding hosting. If you are anticipating hosting a forum, and see it taking off, cheap hosting will end up being a nightmare in all probability. Web Hosting Talk is always a good place to do some research and get opinions from other users past and present so I'll add my recommendation.

    I don't use SBI but reports about them are generally favourable. Certainly for non technical people they often provide a great and easy to manage solution to getting a website up and running quickly, and also claim to take care of promoting your sites in the least time consuming way possible. It's really a question of a) whether they can provide what you need and b) how much "control" you want when it comes to your "webmastering". As far as reliability goes, I think they are pretty solid, at least as far as reports I've seen.

    Yes, unlimited bandwidth is a marketing misnomer as someone has already said, but, I wouldn't say that it is a reason to dismiss a hosting company out of hand - "overselling" is common practice nowadays in what is a hugely competitive field. Again, Larwee and Linda's suggestions are very good advice when embarking on the difficult task of choosing the right host for you

    What no-one has mentioned yet is that if you want to establish a forum, most good hosting companies will provide the better known scripts which you can install pretty easily on your domain, particularly if you look for a host offering Cpanel and Fantastico which can take a lot of headaches out of the donkey work. As a starting point, shared hosting with a reputable company should suffice and the forums will give you a feel for how well they perform in terms of tech and customer support (vital consideration). Again echoing Linda's coments, you will always find the odd moaner on any hosting service so bear that in mind, try to concentrate on the ones where the latest information provides overall good feedback and obviously avoid the ones that seem to throw up nothing but complaints.

    Without knowing what your site is going to look like or deal with it's difficult to give any more than general advice but you may want to consider whether a traditional static site is best, or if you would be better off using a CMS (content management system) such as Drupal or Joomla . These can be intimidating for first time users though and are not everyone's cup of tea, but they deserve a mention as a valid alternative to building a staticsite with traditional HTML editing software. Failing that, you could also consider Wordpress which can be used for more than just blogging. Again, all of these should be available through a good host offering C-Panel and Fantastico.

    Dreamweaver is a great piece of software, but as you are finding out, it takes a lot of study to get the best out of it and there are easier ways nowadays to design and build your sites.

    I'm sorry if this answer has just added more variables to your quandary, but the more information you have before you choose a given path, the better. :)
    If I think of anything else, I'll add it later!

    Mo
     
  7. Jenn1989

    Jenn1989 Affiliate affiliate

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    Thanks for all your comments.

    Klaas, of course you were right about unlimited bandwidth. The first company I e-mailed about their offer of unlimited BW told me actually I am limited to 25% CPU. If it sounds to good to be true.........

    Lawree, thank you for the links. They were very helpful, especially the one called "Everything You Need to Know About Web Hosting." I learned a lot including what questions to ask a Web Hosting company before deciding to sign up. I was able to narrow it down to just 3 companies from this. Thanks again!

    Hi Linda. Thanks for your insight. I read in another post about the problems you had with trying to move your site recently and that is what helped me to really appreciate how important it is to try and choose the right hosting company from the start. I'm sorry you had that experience. I hope you find another company that can give you what you need without the headaches! I am still interested in SBI. I had hoped to get some detailed comments from users to help me make a decision. Should I post that question in another place, or was this the right place for it? BTW, I used your suggestion about searching "hosting comp. sucks" and it worked great. I was able to get so much more information than I was searching the other terms, and it helped me cross some bad ones off the list. Thank you, thank you!

    Thanks TheCaymanHost for your comments. You touched on some points I needed information on and didn't ask yet and things I hadn't thought of but am glad to know! I am planning on having multiple forums on my site, or maybe it's a forum with multiple sub-forums? I don't really know how that works yet. So I will make sure to look for a hosting company that supports the different programs you suggested. I hadn't heard of Drupal or Joomla before. I bookmarked their sites after I read your post and will look at them tonight. I don't know if they can intimidate me anymore than Dreamweaver did. :) I'm pretty much feeling intimidated by this whole process and all the things I need to learn anyway. But I've been wanting to do this for a long time, talking about it for a year now and I'm ready to stop talking and start doing. So anything that can help me get up and running the fastest without compromising quality I'm interested in.

    I hope you all don't mind a couple of more questions that came up after reading and applying your posts. One thing I've had trouble with, since this will be my first site, is determining how much web space and resources I really need. I looked up the site that will be my main (really my only) competition at Alexa.com. Alexa says that site's traffic is almost half a million. I don't know if that means weekly or monthly or what. The sites will be similar in that they will both have multiple forums, but with some differences. Their site is a pay site, mine will be free (hopefully making it more appealing), and I will have different additional content and resources available to users. Should I use their site traffic to determine how much mine might be? If so, I still don't know how that translates into gigabytes and bandwidth. What is your opinion on space I would need as a minimum to start? And I'm assuming I should choose a hosting company that can upgrade me to a dedicated server if and when my site did become that popular.

    Second, one of the hosting services I have on my list had this in their terms of usage:

    Based on what you do know about my future site, does any of this sound like it might be a problem for me later? I'm not sure what "stand-alone, unattended server-side processes" are. Does that mean an un-moderated forum? The 25% - this is from the company that says you get "unlimited bandwidth." Is that common or a red flag?

    Lastly, any opinions on SMF forum software? I did a search on these forums and didn't get any search results. Maybe I'm using the wrong search terms. I've seen vBulletin and will look into that too. Any comments on forum software would be helpful or if you could point me to any links where it might have already been discussed I will read them all.

    Thank you again for all your helpful comments. I really do appreciate it! Before I found this site I was completely overwhelmed, but I'm feeling hopeful and excited now - like I can really do this - thanks to you. :)
     
  8. Larwee

    Larwee <b><font size=2>In Memoriam - Loyal Administrator< affiliate

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  9. Linda Buquet

    Linda Buquet <span style="color: #daa520;font-weight: bold;">Me

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    RE SBI

    "I am still interested in SBI. I had hoped to get some detailed comments from users to help me make a decision. Should I post that question in another place, or was this the right place for it?"

    Your BEST bet is to ask SBI questions in one of the threads Larwee linked to. Then it has a better chance of attracting the attention of one of our SBI guru members because SBI is right in the subject of the post. They are both fairly recent threads so pick the one you think would be best.
     
  10. Jenn1989

    Jenn1989 Affiliate affiliate

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    Thanks Larwee and Linda. I'll make sure and break up my questions by topic from now on. And I'll try posting on one of the existing SBI threads as suggested.

    Jenn
     
  11. TheCaymanHost

    TheCaymanHost Affiliate affiliate

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    Hi again Jenn

    OK, I'll try and take some of this on....

    1) Alexa traffic stats are not really very reliable as they measure only visits by users who have the Alexa toolbar installed. As the toolbar only used to be available for IE (although a FF version has recently been introduced) the actual visitor numbers for that site are almost certainly much higher. How much higher is anybody's guess. If you look on the Alexa site again you will see tabs that will allow you to view various periods of stats from a day to a year or even 5 years.

    2) For your questions about CPU issues, 25% of one hosts shared server CPU load will be different to 25% of anothers. It's very difficult to know just how much shared server CPU will be available to you until you run into problems. Have a look at this thread on WHT for a little more insight into what it all means. Very busy forums can run into CPU load problems, particularly if the host crams a high number of users onto their shared servers, but this discussion will give you a feel for the sort of issues other forum owners have had or are having. You can always ask on those boards for some guidance and talk numbers, even if you're only really guessing at this point.

    Looking for help choosing a host to move from current one - Web Hosting Talk - The largest, most influential web hosting community on the Internet

    3) The WHT forums are also a good place to discuss things like server side processes but from what I know of your plans, it shouldn't concern you too much so I won't go into a long technical explanation. Just as an example, search engines use server side processing (ss is faster than client side processing). When a keyword is sent, a program on a server matches the word or phrase entered against an index of website content. To complete the same task as a client-side process would require the browser to download the entire search engine program and index. If you are at all concerned, make it another point to clarify with your eventual choice of host, but it doesn't mean unmoderated forums ;)

    4) How much disk space will you need? Probably far less than a decent host is going to provide. As a very rough guide, it is fair to say that most users will need less than 100mb and others would be hard pressed to use more than 1-2 Gb. (My last complete backup of the TCH domain was around 20mb) As I say this is rough but unless you are hosting huge video/image/sound files space shouldn't be too much of an issue.

    5) CPU usage and bandwidth are separate issues. Bandwidth refers to the total amount of data transfer allowed per month. I have no idea about how much would be enough but maybe ask some forum owners about their traffic and how it translates into bandwidth to give you a feel for numbers? In simplistic terms, more traffic means more bandwidth, so as your site grows you will use more and more. You can monitor bandwidth use via your hosting control panel so if you start approaching limits you can always take action to ensure you don't exceed them. (Wise, because there are some hosts who will slap you with a bill for going over your monthly bandwidth allowance).

    6) SMF bulletin board software is one of two provided by my host via Fantastico. The other being phpBB2. SMF have their own forum at

    Simple Machines Community Forum - Index

    7) I have no direct experience of either of the hosting companies you mention I'm afraid and can only say that BlueHost are popular, have grown rapidly, and are the host of choice for a lot of bloggers. Would they suit your needs? I can't really say, sorry. Perhaps once again, not wishing to sound like a broken record, seeking out some forum owners and learning from their experiences would be best possible advice. I've never run a forum ;-)

    8) To better understand all the "unlimited" this that and the other, there is an article on my blog which attempts to explain in simple terms what "overselling" actually means, hopefully without too much jargon.

    Web Hosts Overselling | The Cayman Host

    Unlimited bandwidth is not an automatic red flag, just look for the real limits which can usually be found if you delve a little deeper into a hosting company's site, once you have some idea of what you're looking for.

    I hope this helps you a little further along - I'm sure it is intimidating, but it sounds as though you are determined, so good luck in your ventures.

    Mo (TheCaymanHost)
     
  12. Linda Buquet

    Linda Buquet <span style="color: #daa520;font-weight: bold;">Me

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    Thanks Mo for taking your time to post all that great info for Jenn.
    Very helpful!
     
  13. winningratings

    winningratings Affiliate affiliate

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    Re Web Development

    Hi
    you don't need ANY software to start doing your own web development

    I would say absolutely dont use any third party software that produces HTML or PHP code
    You absolutely don't need this stuff - and it will hold you back if you waste time and money on it - this is because you have to be in control of your own HTML or PHP so that you can tweak it to get the best results from the search engines

    You need to learn FIRST how to find a suitable niche for your website, and then how to optimize your website for the search engines

    Finding a niche is about finding a theme for your website, that is not already swamped by other sites. If you just simply add more content to what is already over flowing, then you are very unlikely to succeed

    In simple terms you need to look for a 2 or 3 keyword phrase, for which there are not too many sites, wbut where there are a full quote of ads e.g. 8 on Google

    That should fire you off in the right direction

    Putting your website together is about FIRST working out how to do your own style sheet. A style sheet is a simple little bit of code that sets up the formatting for your text so that you don't need any fortmatting information in the content part of your website

    Use a style sheet and you will cut out 90% and more of the HTML needed
    You can then put a website together in just a few minitutes

    I have some templates and a software application that will create webpages for you in less than 5 min - so you really can do it without fancy software that costs way too much, and then gives you a webpage with most of the information you need for the search engines missing

    Have fun, but remember to start on the right foot, otherwise you will waste a stack of time
     
  14. TheCaymanHost

    TheCaymanHost Affiliate affiliate

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    Hi Linda,

    Welcome, always happy to try at 5Star :)

    Mo
     

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