In 2002-2003 I had a good relationship with http://www.mygreatname.com hosting services. I finally outgrew their capabilities and moved to a larger server. They still act as my domain registrar (good prices too). And I recommend them to any start-up website project. They charge about $14 for most domain names per year, and about $10 per month to host a basic website on a small VPS.
2004-2005 I had a disappointing experience with a VPS (Virtual Private Server) from Jumpline.com
2005-2006 I had an absolutely awful experience with Aplus.net (Abacas Corp) and two of their dedicated servers. Customer service was terrible, outages common, and billing problems excessive.
I've been with Liquid Web for a since late 2006. I use one of their custom-built dedicated servers. It flawlessly handles more than 7000 unique visitors per day, and the customer service and support is excellent. In fact, the best tech support that I've ever had with any company.
This server uses a Linux operating system and Apache compiled with PHP 5.6 (Will upgrade to PHP 7 soon).
The shopping cart:
I use an Ecommerce Templates PHP-based dynamically-generated MySQL-Database-driven shopping cart. While the core PHP code is based on the Ecommerce Templates code, it's been heavily-modified by me, to suit the needs of selling artwork. It's an often-updated suite with good customer service. However, it does take some technical knowledge, or a willingness to learn.
I run my own dedicated server (a lease from Liquid Web as noted above). On that server I run a few MySQL databases that are the backbone of this art gallery website, Chinese calligraphy database, and the database that runs this Asian art forum.
HTML / PHP editor:
If you are looking for the best HTML and PHP editor, I recommend Webuilder. I've tried a few, and this is by far the best, for those who want clean code (FrontPage adds too much crap that slows down your pages) and like to direct edit code (it's not the best WYSIWYG editor). If you are not using PHP, the same company has HTML Pad which just does HTML editing. I use Webuilder every day of my life.
I also use a network of content delivery (edge) servers in countries like The Netherlands, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Spain, Germany, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Brazil, Jordan, Turkey, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and more. I also use a network of edge servers in the USA for fast responses whether you're on the east coast, west coast, or in between. At the time of writing, I am using CDN77's services for this.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
I don't use any SEO consultants. My success with search engines has a lot to do with good content, and well-designed pages. Strategically-placed text (keywords) does play a big part in my overall plan. I've done a great amount of research in SEO, and use all valid methods that seemed viable, and very few, if any, "black hat" tricks.
If you want some advice on SEO issues, just ask.
Website HTML validation:
I regularly check pages by using the Web Consortium's validation located here: http://validator.w3.org/
This means pages render well on all platforms, and even helps with SEO.
Additionally, I check all pages on Internet Explorer and Firefox. I also do spot-checks using Opera and Apple's Safari browser (Windows version). Occasionally, I grab a friend's Mac and see how this site looks on that platform.
I no longer optimize pages for 800 pixel width monitors since 95% of visitors have 1280 pixels or wider. I use three different computers with various monitor resolutions to check how pages render on various combinations of browser, operating system, monitor resolution, etc.
Broken link and missing image checking:
This website might seem a bit odd (they offer a great tool, as long as you hate Scientology too): http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
The Xenu Link Sleuth program is free, and will spider your whole website, looking for broken links and missing files. I used to pay another company about $100 per year for the same service!
Lately, I've been using Pingdom to monitor uptime and response time from various locations around the world. This website services 210,000 unique visitors per month on average. I've got to make sure I'm offering fast and reliable serving of web pages and images. In a recent test, it was determined that this website is even faster than Amazon.com!
The average response time is usually just above 500ms (half a second) worldwide. Within the USA, it's about 300ms (3/10 of a second). This website is faster than 70% of the websites based in the USA. Measuring uptime for the last two years, the site was at 99.92% availability worldwide during that period.
Want more info? Need advice for setting up your website? Just ask!
Like the way something works on our website? Want advice about your own web business?
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