How to Make a Web Site & App Part 1

Getting a Host

Two pieces of strong advice

  • Don’t use free hosting
  • Don’t overpay

With free hosting, you’ll have ads on your page and you won’t have essential things you need. I’m showing two outstanding hosts — neither of which pays me — that are super cheap and give you tons. Do not use GoDaddy (too much money for too little product), FourSquare, Wippet, Blobbix, or whatever those things are called.

Arvixe is the place I use. I came within a single breath of switching to A2 recently but didn’t.

Things they have in common that you must demand from any host:

  • Unlimited storage
  • Multiple/unlimited websites
  • cPanel (there are other control panels but I think cPanel is, hands-down, the best)
  • Unlimited subdomains, FTP accounts, email addresses (there are actually places that charge you to have any and some who charge for more than a few). Never, ever pay for these things. Ever.
  • PHPMyAdmin

Other things these guys have or support that others don’t:

  • Python
  • Node (definitely A2 and, I think, Arvixe)
  • Ruby on Rails
  • Reasonably up-to-date PHP, etc.

You are, after all, trying to become a developer.

About Arvixe

THE GOOD

Cheap at $3.20/month (if you pay annually — a couple bucks more if you pay month-to-month) for multiple websites and … AND … a free domain for life with purchase of any hosting plan. I think that’s pretty darn cool. So you can get started with your little web business for under $6 right now.

They had PDFtk — the cornerstone of my new product — installed already. I almost switched to A2 because Arvixe’s support people said they didn’t have node and I thought that if they didn’t have a huge thing like node, there’s no way they’re going to have PDFtk.

As it turns out, they have both available for shared hosting.

Unlimited databases even with their cheapest plan.

arvixe.png

THE BAD

  • They don’t have phone support like my old host did.
  • Their documentation is far from the best and their replies to comments aren’t helpful.
  • Their chat-based support staff take forever between Q&A … like they take walks afk while chatting with you
  • They’re support appears to be based overseas. Okay, fine, they’re hard to communicate with, okay? English is obviously not their first language … geez, you gotta make me say that shizzle?

About A2

A2 is what we from Ann Arbor, Michigan call Ann Arbor, Michigan. I remember thinking, “How cool would it be if A2 stood for Ann Arbor?” and, as it turns out …

a2_03.png

Their cheapest plan is a few cents more than Arvixe’s cheapest plan but their next level up is a few cents cheaper than Arvixe’s next level up.

THE GOOD

  • Node — rare and cheap considering it’s rarity
  • Pick your version of Python and/or PHP — trust me, that’s cool
  • Support # right there at the top of the home page
  • Chat support – quick to answer and they’re in Michigan, USA
  • 24/7 support

THE BAD

  • Limiting subdomains based on price is skeezy
  • So is limiting databases but not as skeezy as limiting subdomains
  • Maybe I’m spoiled and entitled but limiting email addresses is kinda skeezy
  • They wouldn’t install PDFtk if I switched to them. Maybe I’m being petty but typing “sudo apt-get install pdftk” (less than the most concise tweet) to get someone’s business for life seems like a small thing to ask. Sales told me that if I could find three other hosts that included it, they’d consider including it. I responded that I could only find three (this was before I found out Arvixe did) but, more importantly, I found oodles of people looking for hosts that included it. Regardless, like the Wizard who gave Dorothy & Company a bait-and-switch, they responded to my three hosts with the answer, “No.”

THE IMPORTANT

  • Their support staff — I had many long conversations with them while only thinking about becoming a customer and they were always patient and helpful.
  • If you’re getting their Swift plan (cheap!) the stuff you wouldn’t get with Lite is irrelevant.

Conclusion and Summary

Whoever you choose, make sure it’s someplace with a control panel, file manager, etc. — you don’t want to use templates or some “website builder.” You can get everything you want and need for fun, learning, and profit for the price of a latte a month.

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JotaScript.com

I started with free hosting that seemed relatively (compared to other free hosting) benevolent and robust (MySQL, PHP, etc.) at biz.ht … in fact, it’s better than some paid hosting like GoDaddy‘s worthless $1/month plan (also, be warned, their customer service people seem equally worthless–two out of three weren’t able to answer my question and one of them even gave me an incorrect answer … I just kept terminating the chats until I got someone who could answer my question … correctly).

Then I created a small “site” at GitHub Pages.

But now I have some “for real” hosting. After much research, I chose Arvixe which has, thus far, been an exceptional experience–both product and customer service. If you buy a year, it’s $3.20/month … pay monthly and it’s $5.60/month. My wife and I agreed on monthly for now (she’s not working and we gots chilluns). Hopefully, I can convince her that we’ll save more money in the medium-run sooner than later.

I haven’t yet consolidated my work at the previous two sites and uploaded it to JotaScript.com yet, but will very soon. I have no moral qualms with studying/building my programming skills at work–it totally benefits my employer now and in the future–but I’m not comfortable building my own, personal site–even if it is for legitimate practice and testing.

I’ll still keep the blog going with frequent posts of my progress, humor, and tutorials. I know I could just use WordPress on the site but then I wouldn’t benefit from the amazing magic that keeps all my blogs and their posts at the top of Google search results. For each given topic, my blogs always are at the top of the first page of results. Yay WordPress.