get what you pay forI'm a full time web application developer and have been helping DW get her new WAHM biz off the ground, which includes web site and cart.
My brother is a partner in a hosting provider in CA called Planet Net , so the site is hosted there. I've worked with lots and lots of hosts over the years and can easily say that the ones that have low rates often have support and systems to match. The latter is likely unnoticable to folks that don't spend their days moving files between servers, though if a host is cramming too many accounts onto a machine to make a few bucks, what's that say about their business model and overall quality?:
As for domain registrars, I've always used Network Solutions though have been wanting to branch out a bit since they're somewhat high-priced and can be a pain to deal with if your problem can't be solved with their web-based tools. We initially tried godaddy.com, though signed up on a friday afternoon and still no live domain by sunday, so we went with netsol. I also really didn't like all the pages of options we had to wade through to register the domain. Collegues of mine use Register Fly , so I will be checking them out. I've also used register.com, which seemed ok though nothing great, and I think it was register.com's DNS servers that couldn't be seen by SBC, resulting in the president of the company i was webmonstering for not being able to see the company's site from home :...
As for shopping carts, it's been pretty frustrating finding one that I like. As much of a supporter as I am of free and Open Source software (I write PHP code on Linux and Unix served by Apache with data stored in MySQL), I gotta say that over 90% of the apps, both for this and other tasks I've checked out are poorly written and in some cases have gaping security holes.
At the moment we're going with Paypal's option since we only need very basic functionality, it's easy to implement, allows us to use the look and feel of the site, and doesn't require any data to be stored on external servers. Additionally, since it's Paypal, credit cards can be accepted without a merchant account. I also think that at this point Paypal is known, familiar, and trusted to web users, which is very important indeed. I'll also be able to easily integrate it with whatever home-rolled app I build for the site.
I would urge site operators to use caution if accepting credit card payments directly, rather than going through a third party such as Paypal, Cybersource, etc. I've been on sites in the last year that wanted me to pay by credit card and the page wasn't even served over an encrypted connection !!! Not a way to build trust with a customer base, IMHO.
I have not checked out any of the carts that need to be paid for, nor have I spent much time with those that host the data (ASP model).
Anyhow, I know it's a long post, but hope it's helpful.