web hosting information

If you are planning on registering a domain, you can either have your Web hosting company register the name for you -- or you can register through an independent registrar like Network Solutions . Otherwise, you can take advantage of the various free Web hosts (albeit with a longer URL), like Tripod, Dotster (formerly Fortune City, and Angelfire. You can also have your domain hosted by these same Web space providers -- for a fee, of course.

As for contracting with a hosting company, I would recommend Dreamhost. Their Control Panel is user-friendly and they have some very affordable hosting plans. Dreamhost has email and online chat tech support only, but they will send a reply usually with a 24-hour period -- sometimes on the weekend. It's really important to contract with a hosting company which has longevity; you don't want your cheapie hosting company folding overnight without telling you! Believe me, I've seen that happen -- and it's no fun losing all of your files (assuming you've not backed up your files) and are forced to reconstruct your website using the WayBackMachine.

Dreamhost Web Hosting

For e-commerce, you must have an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) server included with your hosting plan if you plan on having a custom shopping cart actually on your site. This ensures secure credit card transactions through your site. Another (cheaper) alternative is to register with PayPal. With a PayPal Premier account (which is free), I can set up a simple shopping cart for single-item purchases. PayPal is fast and very secure -- in fact, Paypal utilizes the same encryption as the major banks. PayPal will process credit card transactions, taking a small fee from each purchase. If you are able to process credit card transactions manually, then Mals-e can provide a (free) and secure gateway to retrieve sensitive credit card information from your customers and send it directly to you. For a small monthy fee, Mals-e can link your shopping cart to a separate online merchant account which will process your credit card transactions (this requires another monthy fee from the merchant account provider). You can find a complete list of merchant account providers HERE.

For e-commerce WordPress sites I use the WooCommerce shopping cart, which can be integrated with a number of online payment processors including PayPal.

Mal's E-commerce