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Smallsite Design

Online setup help

3. Rent a hosting service

Web sites are run on a server connected to the internet. While we can set our own up, normally we would rent one to save us a lot of effort.

Unless we are expecting a lot of internet traffic to our site, it is much cheaper to buy shared hosting, which means several sites are being hosted on the same physical server. If traffic does significantly increase, the hoster should be able to migrate the site to a dedicated server, at substantial increased cost, but at least services should have minimal disruption.

Smallsite Design is designed to run on a fairly standard software stack known as LAMP, which consists of:
1LinuxOpen source operating system which runs most of the world's web servers
2ApacheOpen-source web server software, until recently the most used in the world, currently at over 30%
3MySQLOpen-source database server software. Not used by Smallsite Design, which uses XML files for streamlined portability
4PHPProgramming language interpreter used by almost 80% of sites, and which Smallsite Design is written in

In addition to this, cPanel is the web server control software that Smallsite Design has been developed upon, though others may well work. The advantage of cPanel is that because so many hosters use it, transferring complete website installations between hosters can be done in hours from a full archive on the source hoster. Several upscale hosters have their own control software, which may make transfers more difficult and upon which Smallsite Design is not tested to work.

The minimum PHP version required is 8.0, and the extensions required – and usually installed and enabled – are:

  1. a.curl – programable browser for servers
  2. b.dom – XML processing
  3. – image management
  4. d.intl – multilingual support
  5. e.simplexml – alternative to dom
  6. f.xsl – transform XML into HTML
  7. – single file installation and archiving.

This site and several others are hosted on A2 hosting (no kickbacks!) and they provided extremely quick transfer from a previous hoster who had really gone downhill, and continue to provide prompt and informative support. The procedure uses screens from them for illustration.

Some extensions, like simplexml, are usually not listed because they are currently inbuilt. If any are not installed, Smallsite Design will not start, but indicate the first one that is not installed.

Other than these pieces of software and extensions, which are all included and kept up to date by the hosting services, Smallsite Design does not use any other third-party software that would require separate updating, which means that other than updating Smallsite Design itself as updates occur, no other software maintenance is required.


The role to perform this procedure is: Site owner.

To buy hosting:

1Open the hoster's home page

by clicking a link to them or searching for their name.

The home page is displayed (complete with visual carnage!):
Sample A2 Hosting home page

There will be a range of types of hosting. For Smallsite Design sites, shared hosting is the cheapest option and will usually be sufficient for the life of the site.

2Select a shared hosting plan

by clicking on the shared hosting option, looking through the plans, and clicking on the desired one.

The choices for low cost hosting are:

  1. a.If only ever needing one domain name and not likely to change it, select the option allowing only one site.
  2. b.If wanting to able to experiment and change domain names in future, select the lowest cost option allowing multiple sites.
A page with a list of domain options is displayed:
Sample domain option selection

3Use your own domain name

by clicking the checkbox for that option.

4Specify the domain name

by performing:

4-1Specify the domain name

by typing in the domain name bought with Rent a domain name.

Depending how many domain names owned:

  1. a.If the hosting plan allows only one site, type in the domain purchased for it.
  2. b.If having more than one domain, type in the one to be tied to the hosting account.

4-2Confirm the domain

by clicking the button for that purpose, such as the Use this Domain in the example.

A page is displayed with a summary of the hosting plan, term option, and some configuration options:
Sample hosting summary and options

5Select options


  1. a.Selecting how many years to pay up-front, with more years being cheaper, but also increasing the up-front cost.
  2. b.Selecting the server location that is likely to provide the smallest access time for the most visitors.
  3. c.Ignoring SSL certificates, as cPanel offers all that is required for free.
  4. d.Ignoring fixed IP address, as it is not necessary and substantially increases the cost.
  5. e.Ignoring anything else, either because it is not necessary for Smallsite Design or is an attempt at super-sizing with added cost.

6Complete purchase of hosting


  1. a.Clicking on whatever buttons to get to checkout without increasing the cost.
  2. b.Paying at checkout.
  • Rent a domain name
  • Create an addon domain
  • Install Smallsite Design
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