Help me tackle my website hosting dilemma
July 30, 2007 12:19 PM   Subscribe

What sort of hosting should I look for for a website for an independent (one man) lawsuit mediation business?

I've got registered domain names, and now i need hosting. I need email, a calendar application (lets clients pick dates subject to manual confirmation by the mediator), an application that will generate pdfs from client-input information, and a payment application. He's also going to automatically generate some sort of economic analysis graph from info the client puts in. The script is not written yet and I have no idea what language it will use. He doesn't either. As for me ... I've got a firm hand on html and css, several computer science classes (C++, Javascript, some lisp), but no direct knowledge of php. And I'm stumped. Help me, hive mind!
posted by anthropomorphic to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
I think you may be in trouble, but this might help a bit. Though, really, this sounds like what the CMS was created for. The graph, however, will need to be either custom mad or patched into whatever you use.
posted by IronLizard at 12:28 PM on July 30, 2007

Err, made.
posted by IronLizard at 12:28 PM on July 30, 2007

Okay, I echo the 'trouble' bit from above.

You're talking about two different things: hosting (paying for a physical machine to place your website on) and the site itself (CMS, CMS, CMS).

Hosting: Dreamhost is hard to beat. Pretty cheap (~$8/mo for Crazy Domain Insane) which will give you just about everything you'll need.

CMS: I always recommend Drupal, which will give you the user/site/contact work you need easily. There's no need to re-invent those wheels.

The custom work (economic analysis, payment, etc) you will need to do yourself. I hope you have a big timeline.
posted by unixrat at 12:46 PM on July 30, 2007

Who is 'he'?

Dreamhost, in my experience, isn't rock-steady, and in this application, stability (uptime) will greatly outweigh whiz-bang features or sky-high bandwidth. Look at WestHost or a similar managed VPS.
posted by tmcw at 12:49 PM on July 30, 2007

One can't purchase e-commerce-y transaction software?! Oh dear.
posted by anthropomorphic at 12:50 PM on July 30, 2007

You can purchase that kind of script, (voila!), but it will not fit your functionality and style needs out of the box. Web applications are, unlike desktop apps, almost always modified in some way before they are entirely usable.
posted by tmcw at 1:05 PM on July 30, 2007

Still wondering about the mysterious "he" and his abilities.
posted by tmcw at 1:08 PM on July 30, 2007

He is an economist and a lawyer, the one man mediation fellow. (I didn't want to get very specific, he's basically selling a formula saying when it's prudent to settle to clients looking to save years of attorney's fees)
posted by anthropomorphic at 1:32 PM on July 30, 2007

Still wondering about the mysterious "he" and his abilities.

The 'he' is the lawyer/whatever running this 'lawsuit mediation business'. He (the lawyer) has hired anthropomorphic to create this whiz-bang website for him. The lawyer also has/will create 'some sort of economic analysis graph' from the data entered on the website, which sounds like an Excel worksheet to me.

At least, that's what I got out of it the first time I read it. Reading it further... not so sure any more. Perhaps there are two people working on the website?
posted by unixrat at 1:34 PM on July 30, 2007

Oops. Anthro beat me to it.
posted by unixrat at 1:35 PM on July 30, 2007

It sounds like one of your considerations will be the security of the site if his clients are going to be providing any sort of confidential information through the web application. Cheaper webhosts usually put a bunch of clients on the same machine. These clients shouldn't be able to see/monkey with the data of other clients, but a bunch of people using the same machine, in my mind, makes the chance of a security breach higher.

For this reason, you'll probably want to look for a dedicated hosting solution, specifically, a managed hosting solution, since it doesn't sound like either of you are prepared to be sysadmins. Managed dedicated hosting tends to be expensive, but the costs can be mitigated by getting a virtual private server (VPS), which makes one server look like a lot of smaller servers and provides a higher degree of security isolation than a typical shared hosting environment.

You do not heed high end managed hosting. You just need hosting from someone who takes responsibility for keeping security updates, setting up backups, and give you someone you can call if you need help with something.
posted by Good Brain at 2:35 PM on July 30, 2007

Uh, sort of a modification of Good Brain's advice - a secure webhost is, of course, vital (VPS = good), but cheap webhosts do not typically allow just freerange browsing of other users. The security feature you should look into is an SSL certificate.
posted by tmcw at 10:25 PM on July 30, 2007

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