What are some incites you have for me to create this site?
I would like to create a website which would allow users to submit an essay. Their essays would be in a timed-environment, and hence, the site should have a countdown timer, which I heard is very heard to implement.
The site should be aesthetically very pleasing, intuitive, and scalable to do more things.
Already, I've registered a domain name, but I haven't gotten it hosted yet. I have no clue which programming language, scripts, etc. to use, or how to go about doing it.
I've heard .ASP and about .PSP, and I'd like your opinion for stability, ease of use, and scalability.
Do you think that godaddy or bluehost is better at hosting this dynamic site for me?
Finally, I heard that wordpress.org has many tools that I could use. How do I test it out? another words, where do I download the compiler or whatever it is that I'll need to play around with it?
Personally I go with a PHP/MySQL solution. I haven't used either of those hosts but I have used and would recommend Ipage and/or Fatcow. I currently use Fatcow for my band and programming Web sites. You're looking at about the same prices all around unless one of them is running a particular sale but a lot of hosts are constantly running far reduced prices on your first year (or term) of service with them. However...most of these sites would have given you a free domain name for as long as you remained their client. But having it yourself is fine as well. Once you get a server host they can either take care of pointing the domain name to their server or they will tell you how to do it and in the back-end of the site where you purchased the domain name you can tell it to point to the servers that your host specifies. No big deal.
As for the timing element...this could very well go over your head at least a bit but you can read up more on it. Generally this could be achieved with a cron job. Each entry can have a creation date stored in the database which holds the data for each/all essays posted and a script where you'd set how long the essays are to stay active and then it could look into the database at the creation date of each and every essay and remove the ones whose time have expired. Then you set up a cron job to run said script on an interval that you set. If you want each essay to remain active for so many days then you can set the cron job to run the script once per day. Technically it would be possible to add that very same code into a script that the general population will visit and hence the expiration check would technically happen every time ANY user loads that page. A cron job allows a script to be run without an admin or a user loading a script that runs the code. But having it inside regularly used code will cause WAY more queries to the database which will effect page loads (especially if you have a ton of essays on the site) and bandwidth to/from the MySQL server. And some hosts will take exception to that. Most hosts with CPanel or similar administration interface will have a button to create a cron job. Again, you can use a search engine for more details on this.
As for specific software...I am not too well-versed in them because most of the sites I develop require specific functionality and therefore code to do what I need to have done. I haven't really used Wordpress myself but it could POSSIBLY suit your needs. However you have to bear in mind that while these solutions are good in that they have been tested by thousands or millions of people and are generally quite stable...you will probably have to alter how you want things to run on your site to match up with your site's goals. Wordpress is normally used for either blogs or creating a site however in order for your members to leave essays they would have to have full permission to post to your installation which means that they could post things that aren't essays because, again, it's intended purpose originally was as a blogging system which the admin could allow multiple people to be able to post to the blog. However one thing that can help you try out many different types of software to see if they would do at least close to what you want is that many site's offer an automatic script installer which will help you set up software solutions such as Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal with a click and adding a little bit of information. It will load all of the files into your account and make the database tables that the software requires. This will cut down on your time testing them all out. I would suggest installing one, full test it out to see if it would work for you then uninstalling it through your control panel and trying another one. This can help you decide whether an already offered solution will work for you. But again, when going with such a solution you are bound to what the software does and how it does it. You may be able to make alterations to your plans for your site to work with one. Or it may be necessary to do it yourself or find someone to develop and code it for you in which case your site would do everything you want in exactly the way that you want it done.
I agree with @teedoff. I recommend that you search for a friend who has experience in these matters, or else you're looking at a lot of time wasted on learning this stuff. The problem is in getting in the flow of it, once you do that; tags and all won't give you a problem, but if you're not in the flow of it, either invest in some good crash course, or Find-A-Friend.