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Web Design and Hosting Creating sites, scripting, and hosting discussions.

Need Pointed In The Right Direction


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Swerb
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For some time now, I've wanted to start my own website. I've had a blog for the last 2-3 years, but want to bring it to the next level.

Blog: http://www.fanmonster.com/blogs/swerb/

I write for Bernie Kosar's Browns magazine and website, and am a huge Cleveland Sports fan. I've built up a pretty decent reader base, and want to have some place of my own to share my thoughts not just on the Browns, but on the other Cleveland sports teams. I'd also like to incorporate some other things into the website. News, movies, books, links, images, etc.

Here are my concerns, in order of importance to me:

1. Time - I have a full time job outside of my writing, and just had my 1st kid! I will still likely have time to write a piece or two a day for my website, but may not have time to update the other portions. I'm assuming a web hosting company can do this for me.

2. Technical Issues - I know the basics of HTML, am pretty proficient on my iBook and use it alot ... but know little about webpage creation, server space, and anything else that goes beyond the basics of HTML.

3. Web Hosting Company - So many out there!!! Who to use? I also need to purchase the domain name I have in mind still.

4. Cost - I know domain names are relatively cheap, not sure how much web hosting, server space, and getting my websites name out there will cost me.

I'm looking to be pointed in the right direction, and have recieved so much valuable advice from the awesome Mac community on this website since "making the switch" back in Feb. Many thanks in advance to any that could take a few moments out of their day to chime in.
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MartinAustin
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If writing and information sharing is your primary goal, I'd say buy yourself a domain name, find a host that sells PHP/MySQL space at a decent price ($4-5/month) and download WordPress to create your own blog. You'd be better served to just edit/download a template you like for WordPress than taking up precious time away from family learning to make your own site. You can check out my blog for an idea of the customization that's possible, if you like (Linkage).

Just my thoughts on what you say you want.

I'd even offer to help get you all setup if you'd be interested. To me this seems the best way to go.
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Swerb
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Martin, thanks for the advice.

I eventually want to take this to the next level, even if it takes me a couple of years. I'd like to eventually offer features like a message board, sports "pick em" contests, a golf handicap tabulator, and several other features that would likely go beyond the realm of what a blog offers.

Despite the fact that initially, I may not have time to do much more than write Cleveland sports ... I'd like to try and create some additional time to maintain and refresh news and sports updates, some other features, as well as some of the gizmos I mentioned above.

And by the way ... cool blog.
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MartinAustin
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Thanks for the compliments! Here are some things you should know before you get your feet wet:

Design: Arguably the most important part of website design is Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). This is an embedded styling language that replaces a lot of antiquated HTML tags such as <font>, <strong>, etc. It is also an amazing way of getting your pages to look exactly as you want them, with precise positioning and stylization.

Programming: Javascript is going to be your oasis when it comes to client-side scripting (i.e. code that runs after a page has been fetched from the server). One of the better books on this (for beginners) is The Book of Javascript. For server-side scripting, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is the best available that I have seen. Its open source, easy to learn, and shares a lot of syntactical elements with Perl. It works best in conjunction with MySQL, which is up next.

Databases: MySQL reigns supreme when it comes to web database applications. It is fast, easy to use (knowing Structured Query Language [SQL] helps make it easier), and like PHP it is open source.

Youll most often find this configuration for a web host:

Linux / Apache / PHP / MySQL

Its stable, efficient, and fast. Most web hosts also have cPanel, which is a frontend to manage your website, including mailing lists, forums, polls, subdomains, etc. One of the more important features to look for is the inclusion of phpMyAdmin on a host, as this gives a visual representation to working within the databases you create, rather than using a command-line interface.

Let me know if you have other questions (as long as its not about setting up your own web server on a Mac, as I dont own one and have no idea how to go about it)
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Swerb
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Thanks again Martin, some more good info to absorb and think about.
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MartinAustin
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Just as a follow-up ... how are things going with this, Swerb?
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Swerb
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Martin, temporarily on hold ... this will likely be more of an '06 project for me, just wanting to get some seeds planted this year.

Will keep you posted, and thanks again for the advice!
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Swerb
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I just purchased the following domain names:

www.swerbsblurbs.com
www.theclevelandfan.com

I am now looking into web hosts. My needs are very simple, I don't need huge amounts of space. Intially the website will almost be like a blog in the sense that most of the content will be on the main page. However, I am going to eventually want to try and take it to the next level, slowly adding features as I go.

Any advice on affordable web hosts that will meet my needs?

Also, while I am somewhat proficient in HTML, I would also be interested in anyone's reccomendations about website building software, and how exactly that works. This site, while hopefully one day down the road could lead to income, is not something I want to dump a ton of up front money into ... or pay someone to design for me. I'd rather take it slow and steady, do the design myself, and work towards one day being able to free up the time to keep all the content fresh myself.


Thanks!
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MartinAustin
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The best host I've ever used, and the one I currently am using, is A Small Orange (link). Unlimited email accounts, subdomains, MySQL databases (rare to find this unlimited), 400MB disk space (a LOT on the web), good bandwidth, and they have cPanel which is arguably the best site management tool available.

All that for like $5 per month. And they have bigger plans available, so you can switch whenever you like to suit your needs. If you go with them, just make sure you let them know who sent you

As far as software, I couldn't recommend anything beyond BBEdit and a good HTML and CSS book to get you started. I don't have a Mac, so I don't know all the good freebies for site building. My own hint? Start viewing page source and see if you can make sense out of it. Save it, alter it, hack it, check what you are doing by reloading it in your browser. Tinkering is a great way to learn!

Good luck! And I like the domain name names, by the way
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Swerb
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Martin, thanks again. I'm going to take a look at A Small Orange, and will definitely let them know who sent me if I go with them.
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schweb

 
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Swerb you might also want to check out our Member Deals forum, there is a deal for Mac-Forums.com members for Dreamhost webhosting.

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Swerb
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Griacias schweb, I will check it out.
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