How me get website?
October 11, 2009 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about making a website but it's years since I last did this, what are the best registrars, hosts, and insidey bits nowadays? I'm in the UK.

I'm working on some creative projects at the moment (visual art, collaborative research - it's all very nebulous right now) and sooner or later they're going to need an online base. It's years since I last did any of this stuff and I'm completely out of touch - help me get up to speed.

The site structure needs to be flexible enough to house blog-like sections (serially updated content) and portfolio-like sections (non-Flash image galleries etc.), and I want to house several projects at one domain name like this and so forth. I'm not a techie person at all but I don't mind using an admin interface if it's straightforward. I really don't want to be fending off new exploits or spending days on setup and things like that though. Please ask specific questions if my thinking is too unclear.

I'd really appreciate some feedback from people who really know their stuff rather than from miscellaneous one-time satisfied customers. Keep in mind that I'm in UK, if that's at all relevant.

- Can you suggest any general resources for domain name ideas?

- Who should I register the domain name with? In the past I've used the godaddy service where they conceal your name and address from WHOIS queries. What do you think about that?

- Who should I buy hosting from? I'm not expecting much traffic and my budget is very tight but I would like to go with a company who've been proven over time. Easy setup is a plus. And I want to be able to do redirects easily (e.g. would redirect to something like Survey Monkey).

- When I have the name and the empty hole it points to, how should I put something in it? MTCreations recommended Wordpress to another poster here - do you agree with those comments? Would they fit my intentions?

I think that's it. My problem is that I want a good quality end product but that I don't have the knowledge or discernment to get there on my own, or the budget to buy someone else's.

Thanks everyone - you're saving me hours of reading in circles.
posted by SebastianKnight to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Given your traffic and budget expectations, the first web host I suggest you look at is NFS. They have a payment model where you only pay for what you use (rather than being oversold on unlimited bandwidth and disk space). I've used them, lots of my friends use them, and I've heard very few complaints. The only drawback is they're not very approachable to newbies, and I think you have to pay extra for support these days.

You'll get different recommendations from everyone you ask as far as domain registrars, but they're all basically the same, so just pick one. I'll add a +1 for GoDaddy, though. Concealing your WHOIS details should be possible with any registrar, but GoDaddy definitely make it easy.

Don't register your domain with the same people you pick for hosting. Keep them separate. Especially never buy hosting from a domain registrar. I'm going to paste my reasoning from another question:
Domain registrars generally only offer web hosting as a sideline and can't be guaranteed to be good at it. It's usually highly oversold, meaning slow websites. (Because hundreds or thousands of other websites are loading from the same servers.) They generally don't offer the full suite of things you might expect from dedicated hosting companies, such as up to date PHP installations and phpmyadmin access, MySQL databases, access to a cPanel (or equivalent), basic things like MX records and mail forwarding, the ability to change domain nameservers and such, and just generally not having things you may or may not want -- your requirements will vary, etc.

On the flipside, if you register your domain from your hosting company, and at a later date want to change hosts, or you accidentally let it expire or whatever, it's going to be a lot more difficult to transfer your domain elsewhere than it would be if it was already separate.

Not to say companies can't manage both (I had good luck with Media Temple), but most can't. Approach with caution (and, preferably, a glut of glowing reviews from other customers).
Wordpress sounds like it should do the job for what you need. It can be a little tricky to do fancy things with (ie, anything more than just a blog), but it's possible, and also pretty well documented. That said, you mentioned fending off security exploits, and Wordpress seems to have a lot of them, but as long as you keep your installation up to date, you should be ok (and that's easy now that WP has 1-click updates). Additionally, a lot of hosts (not NFS) have 1-click installs for it too, which might appeal to you, but it's often not the most up to date version. Personally, I'd look at Textpattern rather than Wordpress -- it's not actively updated at all anymore, I don't think, but I always found it much easier to customise.
posted by nostrich at 8:50 AM on October 11, 2009

Oh and as far as redirects, I don't know about easy interfaces and whatnot, but they're going to be handled with htaccess. Googling "htaccess redirects" will uncover a bunch of information. I don't know a great deal about this, though, so someone else might be able to give you better information.
posted by nostrich at 8:53 AM on October 11, 2009

Ask Metafilter is a good place for domain name ideas, but you have to tell us what it's for first.

For a registrar, I use gandi, located in France. I switched to them after the kurfluffle about Network Solutions "owning" your domain name and giving certain ones away when there were disputes about them. GANDI has good services, but the trade off is that it's not the cheapest, running i think 12$/year.

Wordpress can probably fit your needs, as it's a pretty flexible piece of software, but it might need to be hacked a bit.
posted by beerbajay at 12:51 PM on October 11, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks a lot guys - I'm leaning towards godaddy as registrar and Nearly Free Speech for hosting (I like the tone of their site), and I've thought of a domain name (wohoooooooo!). I'm thinking of giving wordpress a try at least for a while.

A new question has arisen - I'm going to register the .com and .org - how should I decide which to use for the hosting? I prefer the .org visually, but I'm not sure what the rules and etiquette are.
posted by SebastianKnight at 1:11 PM on October 11, 2009

I wouldn't recommend GoDaddy. I have a few friends who have used them and its a pain moving your site/domain off their servers if you want to do it sometime later.

Seconding Gandi although I have personally used them only to get whois info. I have also used (5+years), (abt 1 year).

Have heard good things about I use dreamhost but I their account has lots of bells and whistles and is quite expensive when compared to NFS and I don't think you need all that.

Wordpress could work for you. Install it and try out the different themes, modules etc available to get your site to work the way you want.

One tip, instead of domain/project1, domain/project2 - try domain/project/project1name/ . Gives more structure to your site.
posted by bbyboi at 12:29 AM on October 12, 2009

I think you should stick to .com for your personal site. IMO sounds really cool and if you are buying a domain with your last name, stick to .org.
posted by bbyboi at 12:30 AM on October 12, 2009

I would suggest using for domain registration over GoDaddy. I've used both and I much, much, much prefer Namecheap.
posted by 913 at 2:42 AM on October 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

Another against GoDaddy, I find their interface slow, cluttered and clunky, and the constant up-selling gets on my nerves. Plus Bob annoys me.

If you're interested in domain privacy give this away for free with purchases of just one domain.
If you're also getting .uk names, are my favourite for those.

As others have suggested keep your domains at a domain company and hosting with a hosting company- it's very rare that anyone provides both and does it well (plus if there's a problem with hosting you won't have a problem with your domain and can point it elsewhere).

I see no problem hosting on the .org and using this in the site name / branding / logos, but whatever extension you go for, I always think it's best to get the .com forwarding to the site too (and if you're in a country with a popular extension like .uk, .de, .ca that too).

Wordpress is very easy to use, and seems to fit the bill for what you've asked for, perhaps also look at MovableType?
posted by at 3:56 AM on October 12, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks again for your input everyone.

I have a domain and hosting now (godaddy, nearlyfreespeech), and I'm looking at using Wordpress (with the 'Thematic' theme) as a blog-CMS hybrid. I'm way out of my depth though and am thinking of paying someone to get it working for me - I have a sitemap in mind but I can't get there on my own.

Just as a note to any other non-technical people thinking of running their own wordpress site - 'easy' is a relative term. In my world, customising a wordpress install is about as 'easy' as building a time-machine.
posted by SebastianKnight at 5:06 AM on October 20, 2009

Best answer: I came in too late. I wanted to mention that I'm currently playing around with wordpress as well (comfortable with computers, know about themes/CSS generally from my blogger days, but anything past that is a bit mind-boggling), and it's actually not as easy as people make it out to be. In particular, NFS doesn't play nice with wordpress cuz of php safemode. you can blog and update very easily, but there are some plugins that don't work or things you have to do manually (permalinks come to mind). endless hours of googling only leaves me confused. it's great if you know what you're doing, but otherwise it could be kind of a hassle.

(obviously there might be workaround to the things i've mentioned, but i'm just voicing my opinion as someone else who's not a complete techie)
posted by mittenedsex at 2:00 AM on October 24, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for that - I'm glad it's not just me.

I've bookmarked this NFS thread but haven't gotten around to reading it yet:

I don't know how up-to-date it is, but there's some talk in there around wordpress fixes for NFS.

I've approached some people about paying them to set up my wordpress and create a thematic child-theme for me with certain special behaviours (e.g. varying post metadata according to blog category) but I'm not really sold on it. I think I'll get something very basic and (mostly) functional going and then look into something more professional when I have more cash available to put into the project.

There must be an easier way to do this stuff.
posted by SebastianKnight at 1:48 PM on October 24, 2009

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