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What website host and builder do you use?


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I'm at the point of needing to set up a website for my editing business and am comparing website hosts and builders. For those who have websites, would you mind sharing:

  • what host and builder you use
  • what made you choose that one
  • if you'd recommend it
  • anything you would recommend I set up at the start of having a website.

Thank you in advance!

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I'm using WiX.

 

What made me choose it was the fact that it's been out there for quite a while, and is stable.

 

For basic stuff like setting up a blog, an e-mail list, and so on I'd recommend it.

 

The one thing I'd recommend is getting a domain name (mine is www.hphunterwriter.com) so that you can use that as your web address.  Most of these website hosting systems will allow you to apply that domain name to your website.  Otherwise, your website address will be under the hosting system subdomain (ex: www.wix.hermanphunterwriter.com as opposed to the one I registered as a domain).  Having your own domain name makes it MUCH easier for people to find you quickly.

 

 

Edited by Jeff Potts
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I used WIX.COM .

 

If you are not sued to it, it can take a bit to become familiar with it. I am fortunate enough to a son who is good at all things tecky and we had built my church website which is also hosted by WIX.COM so I am familiar with.

 

For the moment it does what I want to do and is low maintenance because I am not using it much.  It also has ma lot of info you can use on the dashboard to keep track of visitors etc and set up mailing list (although I have yet to use it.

 

If you a cost effective low budget site then I would recommend it.

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I can give you a mix of what to do and what not to do, but I'm better at the what-nots. 

 

What to do:

-- I bought/am renting a URL specially related to my bent. (All my efforts keep going toward stories about teddy bears, so own/rent teddybearstories dot org. Yeah, it's there but not worth checking out.) I figure it might get a few views simply from folks keywording "teddy bear stories."

 

-- I use Sonservers as hosting service. I figured they're less likely to boot me for being against the word-view, they wouldn't rip me off, their effects would be good, and they won't be annoying. Over a decade later, and I still think that.

 

What not to do:

-- Set up a site on a free platform, because they're never free. Right now my blog is littered with advertising for scammers who are pretending to be in the Philadelphia area. (My city comes up in my writing often.) Worse yet, my first website about my teddy bear family, (strictly G rated), was used to advertise for sex sites. (You don't want to know what "teddy bear" means on those sites.) So, don't do free -- ever.

 

-- Unless you know website designing from your day job, get someone you trust to design your site. (And not some schmoe who calls. I once was given a chance at a free starter site. If I liked it, I'd pay for upkeep. Yes. They included everything I told them on the phone. Every. Single. Thing. Including the hemming and hawing, and the "Never mind. Skip that part." Every Thing. 😏) To do it yourself is something like learning how to juggle just three items by using an apple, a razor, and rat poison to start. It's not going to work out well, no matter how hard you try. Once it's up you can keep it going, but don't do it yourself.

 

-- Don't set it up too far ahead of time. (And if you do find my blog, you'll get that. 😳)

 

I can't give you a lot, but hope that helps.

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Good choices for you won't be good choices for everybody. I will make broad assumptions for you, based on the fact that you're young, and probably use computers for many things or have friends who do and can help. You probably use the internet a lot, and where there's a helpful user community available, you'll likely make use of it. Here goes:

 

1. Take a lot (!!!!) of time picking out a good domain name. Only one person in the world can register any particular one, so many of your early choices may already be taken.  You will live with this domain name for a long, long time. Make sure it's easy to remember, and that people who only get a glance at it can write it down. (E.g., my last name contains a sequence of two "zo"s, and people can't write it down properly even when I spell it out for them. My last name is not part of my domain name...) 

 

2. Register the domain name yourself. many web hosting services will do this for you, and it will make setup easier, but then the hosting service owns your domain name. When it comes time to do your yearly renewal of the name, you will have to pay the price they set for renewal. You could be surprised. You also may not be able to take it with you if you decide to switch to another hosting service. Make sure you know all renewal costs, before signing up. Funny thing... an awful lot of web hosting services don't show it anywhere... Notice who behaves this way...

 

3. Consider picking a web hosting service located close to your time zone. This will give faster turnaround with help requests. Don't use a "free" hosting service. They have numerous ways of making the free service annoying, nudging you first into a really cheap service, and then a more expensive one that's adequate. The free services also won't let you use your own domain name (unless you at least jump into the "cheap" service...) Otherwise your domain name will always partly include theirs, as well.

 

4. The most widely used web software in the world is WordPress. There's a reason for this, and you should at least investigate it carefully. Installation of WordPress on most hosting sites is really easy, there's a Huuuuuuuuge user community out there that can be very helpful, and the number of free themes and plugins for it (trust me; these weird thingies I'm talking about are a Good Thing...) is absolutely enormous. This means you'll have more choices available to you than you could ever have time to investigate...

 

5. If you decide to go with WordPress software, you can first get a head start by getting a free "throwaway" web site that uses WordPress, just to play around with for a couple of months. (Don't do this on wordpress.org; many choices there will be limited...) Don't make it into a useful site; it's a sandbox that you're using to learn on, for free. You'll initially have to select a "theme", that sets a lot of the way your site will look. Pick anything, and as time goes on, switch to lots of other interesting-looking themes, and see how it changes things. Most of what you've set up will still work; some things will not. Set up lots of dummy menus, extra pages, and whatever features are available in the specific theme. You want to be absolutely sure you know what theme you'll use before going to a paid site and setting up for real, 'cuz it will be painful to change themes once you've started doing some real work, and once you've started paying, well... you're paying. Very early on, investigate a plugin called Elementor; the free version will be deliriously, wonderfully adequate for all your needs. Knowing all the power it gives you will almost certainly affect the way you'll start setting up your "live" site...

 

 

 

 

Edited by Wes B
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When I first had a site, I tried Wordpress.com but, for some reason, I switched over to Blogger. Stayed there for several years. Then switched to Wordpress.org, the paid side with my own domain name using Go-Daddy. After a few years, I switched to running my own with the help of a great web designer/teacher. Two years ago, I shut it all down. It was becoming too stressful to manage with fibromyalgia. There are tons of great themes out there for free that you can use. If you go with Wix or another, check to see if you have to use one of their themes or if you can use one from somewhere else.

 

I changed themes several times through the years but I don't remember it being painful as We said. 😉 I used my own name for my domain and have kept it alive just in case I go back. Which I doubt. 🙃

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34 minutes ago, lynnmosher said:

When I first had a site, I tried Wordpress.com but, for some reason, I switched over to Blogger. Stayed there for several years. Then switched to Wordpress.org, the paid side with my own domain name using Go-Daddy. After a few years, I switched to running my own with the help of a great web designer/teacher. Two years ago, I shut it all down. It was becoming too stressful to manage with fibromyalgia. There are tons of great themes out there for free that you can use. If you go with Wix or another, check to see if you have to use one of their themes or if you can use one from somewhere else.

 

I changed themes several times through the years but I don't remember it being painful as We said. 😉 I used my own name for my domain and have kept it alive just in case I go back. Which I doubt. 🙃

 

Hi Lynn... I remember your site; it was a very happy, pleasant place, and I do miss it. Really sorry for the reasons you had to stop.

 

About theme changes being painful, it depends on what you're doing with a specific site. If you started with a "plain vanilla" theme and never made things much more complicated, the problems may have been invisible to you. 

 

I started out looking at a lot of author websites, and making a list of requirements I had to have. These included: 1) having a background image on each page (some themes don't support this at all), 2) Basic menu bars wherever I want them, with submenus under them. (Many themes don't have there, and if they do, they're set up differently in each theme, so if you change themes, all your menus may vanish.) 3) A basic slideshow, that plays on the home page when it first loads. Only a small percentage of themes offer this, and they're set up ***radically*** differently from each other. Some just display a list of picture files uploaded to your site, others display each slide from individual web pages that have to be individually created. Huuuuge amounts of work to change a simple slideshow.

 

There are lots of other, smaller annoyances that crop up, maybe only noticed weeks after the switch. Claire may or may not bump into these, but as she mentioned using it for a business, I had to guess that her site may start becoming more and more complex over time, and the last thing anyone wants then is to bump into theme limitations...


EDIT: One other thing... the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The paid site is wordpress.com; you can use your own domain name there, but you pay. In talking about free sites (including wordpress.org...) you have "wordpress" or whatever name the hoster uses, in your own domain name.

 

r

Edited by Wes B
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2 hours ago, Wes B said:

Hi Lynn... I remember your site; it was a very happy, pleasant place, and I do miss it. Really sorry for the reasons you had to stop.

Awww, what a nice thing to say! Thank you so much, Wes. That really blesses me. Yeah, I became my own IT person. Too much. Doing my newsletter now is soooooooooo much easier! 😃

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@Claire Tucker What @Jeff Pottsand @Shamrock said about Wix.

 

I was going to start my own site with Wix, and I even still have the account.  The reason I switched to Medium, the free hosting site I use now, is that I couldn't afford a monthly fee to make my Wix experience really worth it.  But I totally recommend it to someone who can pay the monthly subscription.

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Everyone has such great info!
 

I agree that buying a domain name is critical.

 

I use WordPress.com, not .org, since they have all the "point and click" templates and widgets. However, I am limited by what they provide and have definitely felt limited more than once, wishing to do something I couldn't with their platform. If you get .org, everything is up to you and you can cobble together whatever you like from code that you download (I think). However, (someone correct me if I'm wrong), I believe that site security and everything else is up to you on .org, which always sounded daunting to me.

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I was able to build my own beautiful website in a week using this woman's free course. She offers additional courses for a charge, but the free one really was sufficient for what I needed. She uses WordPress, unless she changed it in the several years since I gave up my site.

 

https://shannonmattern.com/

 

Edited to add, I'm not super computer literate, so if I could do it, almost anyone can. 😂

Edited by jayjay
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2 hours ago, PenName said:

Everyone has such great info!
 

I agree that buying a domain name is critical.

 

I use WordPress.com, not .org, since they have all the "point and click" templates and widgets. However, I am limited by what they provide and have definitely felt limited more than once, wishing to do something I couldn't with their platform. If you get .org, everything is up to you and you can cobble together whatever you like from code that you download (I think). However, (someone correct me if I'm wrong), I believe that site security and everything else is up to you on .org, which always sounded daunting to me.

 

Hey there, @PenName... you pretty much got it all right, but here are some clarifications. If you go to wordpress.org (free site), you're on your own with everything because there's no customer support with a free site. It's possible that some free site, somewhere, offers customer support, but I've never heard of any.

 

I've "played around" on a free wordpress.org page (this was maybe, 5 years ago...), and the choices were really limited. There were still a lot of themes, plugins, and widgets to select from, but they were a tiny subset of what was available in the "outside world." I've never had a wordpress.com account, but their selections appear much larger, though still limited. I think their business model has a good reason for this.

 

The wordpress.com service appears to offer much more "handholding" than other providers offer in customer support, but this probably requires that the only 3rd-party addons they'll allow will be ones that they've thoroughly analyzed and approve of. For people not technically inclined, this may be a very safe and comforting choice. The more limited choice of addons may be a good tradeoff. But it is constricting, considering the vast sea of options available on the outside. In the end, everyone makes their choice...

 

Other hosting providers usually set you up by default with a WordPress installation, and it's pretty straightforward to work with. There might be a bit more effort in resolving problems, 'cuz there could be trouble with the hoster OR the 3rd party addon, but I haven't had any serious troubles. 'Course, I try out every addon first on a free "throwaway" site before i install it into my "live" one. I think that's just paranoia on my part, but so far, all those invisible bad guys haven't got their mitts on me...🙂

 

 

31 minutes ago, jayjay said:

I was able to build my own beautiful website in a week using this woman's free course. She offers additional courses for a charge, but the free one really was sufficient for what I needed. She uses WordPress, unless she changed it in the several years since I gave up my site.

 

https://shannonmattern.com/

 

Edited to add, I'm not super computer literate, so if I could do it, almost anyone can. 😂

 

That's really nice of you to link to a course people can use to learn on. WordPress is easy enough for everybody to learn, and as long as you don't to make everything too big, too fast, it's usually easy enough to track down problems. Again, I'd really recommend keeping a second, free site, in tandem, as a sandbox to try things out before moving them to the live site...

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ive used weebly.com and it is super easy and user friendly. I have had to use wordpress for work, and it sucks in comparison... it's not user friendly at all and is very limited in its abilities to format in comparison to weebly. (anectdotally, I didn't have to watch a single tutorial video to create my own website using weebly.... for wordpress, i had to watch multiple videos, most over 30 minutes long, and I still struggle with it and it's not intuitive to me or easy to maneuver. 

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as far as domain, if you use weebly, the set up the domain, usually with a .weebly at the end, but you can purchase your domain and take it off. I did that, and it wasn't too expensive for me... (and don't have to go through the hoops you usually do with other sites - if I remember correctly, wordpress doesn't present you with your own domain...). but my knowledge is relatively limited. These are just my own limited experiences with weebly and word press.  

 

oh.... is wordpress.com different than wordpress.org? my employer used wordpress.org, and it's terrible... if wordpress.com has the same formatting as wordpress.org with just more widgets and formats, I think I would still prefer weebly...

Edited by Jared Williams
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Wow, thank you, everyone, for your in-depth replies.

 

@Wes B, I do actually have a free site with wordpress.com that I set up last year. Would that be something that I could use as my sandbox? Also, which builder/host do you use? (I am still curious on that point, but do understand if you'd rather keep it private).

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17 hours ago, Wes B said:

One other thing... the difference between wordpress.com and wordpress.org. The paid site is wordpress.com; you can use your own domain name there, but you pay. In talking about free sites (including wordpress.org...) you have "wordpress" or whatever name the hoster uses, in your own domain name.

Wes, although all your other information is excellent, you've got this detail mixed up. Wordpress.com is free, and it's the one where you have "wordpress" in your domain name. Wordpress.org is also free, but it is the self-hosted platform allows you to use your own domain.

 

@Claire Tucker here's a summary of wordpress.com vs wordpress.org.

 

I use self-hosted Wordpress (wordpress.org) for my site. It's powerful and versatile, but it does have a steeper learning curve than Wix and the like. However, there are tons of resources out there to help with any problem you might (and probably will!) run into.

 

There are many free themes and plug-ins available for Wordpress, and there are also premium ones which you can buy. I use a premium theme from Restored316 Designs.

 

For hosting, I use Domain Name Shop. Their prices are very reasonable and we've had no trouble with them in over 14 years.

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There is a lot of great information here, so as someone who used and sometimes every now and then does website design for a living, I'll add my 2 cents by talking about my experiences.. 

 

I used to hand-code every website I used to build, but these days it simply is too expensive for me to do that and takes too much time. I am a wordpress website builder, have been doing it for at least the last 5 years. There are many great features about Wordpress, the best is that it is free and there are a mountain of YouTube videos that will give you ample instruction of use the backend and how to do many of the common procedures you do in building a website.

 

My father hosts websites that I have built and he hosts them on hosted cloud storage provided by a company called Linode.com. If you need help, I'm happy to help you however I can.

 

Having complete control over your own site gives you a sense of security especially when you can make the website and make a backup of the hosted machine and restore it at any time.

 

For instance, you can rent/lease a virtual cloud host from Linode.com and install a free wordpress installation on there, which is easily done by a 1 button click install function in the Linode dashboard.

 

Their most basic host is

1GB Ram, 1 CPU Core, 25 GB SSD Storage, Transfer of 1 TB, Network in of 40 Gbps and Network out of 1000 Mbps all for a small price of $5 / mo

 

The Wordpress Dashboard seems daunting at first, but once you learn what does what, it is quite intuitive. And if there is something you don't like about a theme you install, such as colors of certain elements or hiding something, with some help you can change even those elements.

 

You can install a "Under Construction" plugin that will show anyone else a Under Construction placeholder page but when you are logged into Wordpess you can see the site you are building.

 

I also suggest if you install wordpress.... Install the free Wordfence plugin to help protect your site against hackers and you can add 2FA plugin so that no one else can login to your site as they will try.

Edited by Amosathar
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6 hours ago, Claire Tucker said:

Wow, thank you, everyone, for your in-depth replies.

 

@Wes B, I do actually have a free site with wordpress.com that I set up last year. Would that be something that I could use as my sandbox? Also, which builder/host do you use? (I am still curious on that point, but do understand if you'd rather keep it private).

 

You can use any free site as a sandbox; it's just a place to try new things before committing them to your live site. Since there is such a vast, vast, vast array of 3rd party plugins out there, and some may occasionally be buggy, you may want to try them out first on a site that "doesn't count," so if they cause some extreme problem, you can either wipe the site clean and start over, or install a backed-up copy of the site, from some earlier point when everything was stable.

 

From past experience (again, maybe 5 years ago...) the actual wordpress.com site was restrictive in the 3rd party addons that it made available for you to install. Most web hosters will allow you to install anything, so your flexibility is multiplied. (My "paranoid" safety measure is to also employ a sandbox, but lots of people seem to get along without one. I'm a retired engineer & programmer, and sandboxes were common ways to try out new things without messing up the actual project that usually had a sizeable team of people working in it. I give the same care to a live website that I don't want to accidentally disrupt...)

 

My hosting service is called accuwebhosting dot com. I've not had problems with them, but then with my techie background AND use of the sandbox, I don't think I've ever had to call on their technical service folks, so I can't speak about their usefulness, there. My decision was based on comparing different hosters' costs, exactly how much "stuff" was provided for those costs, and the fact that this hoster clearly published their renewal costs, as exactly the same as the cost paid when you sign up. (There's nothing like coming up to renewal time, and finding out that the bargain price you initially paid was an introductory price only, and that the "standard" cost is much higher...)

 

3 hours ago, EBraten said:

Wes, although all your other information is excellent, you've got this detail mixed up. Wordpress.com is free, and it's the one where you have "wordpress" in your domain name. Wordpress.org is also free, but it is the self-hosted platform allows you to use your own domain.

 

OOPS... thanks for keeping me honest here...

 

I'd only mentioned in passing that I'd last played at one of wordpress' company websites maybe 5 years ago. I should have emphasized that, 'cuz the memory just ain't what it used to be... thanks again for straightening that out.

 

----------------

 

For people trying to figure out the difference... WordPress is a company that does web hosting, but it also produces the WordPress software that's freely available to all the other web hosters in the world. Then there's a vast legion of producers of third-party addons for the Wordpress software.

 

The WordPress COMPANY, on its own websites, gives only limited access to those third-party addons. Other hosters, which provide installations of the WordPress SOFTWARE, give you free reign, and your flexibility is vastly multiplied, but with what appears to be a very slight additional risk.  (The "very slight" is merely MY assessment...) I think most people choose the vastly greater power and flexibility over the slightly added stability, but that's an individual choice, and no one else should make it for you...

 

 

Edited by Wes B
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