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WEB/DIGITAL How to build a website

M-M

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Aug 27, 2007
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Not sure if this is the right section.
How do I go about building my website? I come up with all the features and how it's supposed to work. Do I then come up with the basic design myself or have the programmer do it? Is it better to find a programmer first and then come up with the features together?

Thanks in advance.
 

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wildambitions

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I too, would love more information in this area.

Here is what we have done so far. We have the company (vacation rental/property management). We wrote a basic website but soon learned that we wanted more. We needed more than a static site and needed to move into an interactive site that will eventually be completely automated.

We networked through our local area and came up with a programmer who is currently deveoping an analysis for us. We have been unable thus far to come to the terms of any agreement due to our buget, we will continue to negociate.

Our problem is that we know now what we want and are stuggling trying to figure out how to get it, or know if there is something better or more appropriate for us to try to obtain.

Input requested from one and all. :thankyousign:
 

aptohosting

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OP
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M

M-M

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Working fine here, but maybe he's already changed it.
 

Sehcill

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Aug 19, 2007
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Google terms like "website templates". The only one I can think of off the top of my head is templatemonster.com Browse through their premade sites and find a layout you like, then get a developer to make you one similar.

-Jason
 

wildambitions

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We are really looking for trade instead of payment. We can trade time in our vacation rentals. If we use payments, they would need to be less than $75.00/month. If the low payments were considered, we may be able to get creative with the "financing" and work out a length of time and balloon payment option... The main objective is to not be renting the software, not have a huge upfront cost and not pay more than $2000.00-$4000.00 total cost. The main goal of the software is so customers will be able to reserve and make payments online.

That being said, is this something I might be able to do myself? In other words, is it possible to link our website (currently a static sit) to our secure payment center (Cardservices International, linkpoint) to have our customers be able to pay directly?

I realize that I am totally a novice when it come to programming. We are talking basic HTML at best. My husband is capable of some PHP (basic information forms) but beyond that we do not have much programming knowledge.
 

yveskleinsky

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Good morning sunshine! ...Interesting to read your post. ...Interesting choice of language. How about we focus on the question, "How can we find and/or afford software that would make us totally interactive?" I don't mind paying for it, I just want it to be on decent terms, with a portfolio of decent work and happy customers to verify price.

...I had posted the same question- it's buried in here somewhere. Someone (Biophase?)had recommend outsourcing it overseas. I'll dig it up and let you know!
 

Andrew

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Aug 8, 2007
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You should be just go with an off the shelf solution. This should be cheaper & the only graphic design work you should need done is a logo.

In terms of not "renting" software, you need to consider the alternatives -- which is paying a programmer by the hour to fix bugs & problems. That will zoom past your $75 a month budget very quickly. However not all web software is sold on a month to month or yearly license basis.

The bottom line is custom software development is expensive and takes lots of time. If it takes 2 months to develop, the web design company has to be paying a programmer for 2 months of time before adding in their own profit margins. That is not going to happen for $4000.

A quick search on Google for "vacation rental software" is a good place to start. I found a few that may be appropriate to what you need:

http://www.vacationrentalscript.com/
http://www.rental-network.com/WebBookings.aspx
http://www.vacationrentaldesk.com/Products/Desk/Features.aspx
 

MJ DeMarco

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Not sure if this is the right section.
How do I go about building my website? I come up with all the features and how it's supposed to work. Do I then come up with the basic design myself or have the programmer do it? Is it better to find a programmer first and then come up with the features together?

Thanks in advance.
The answer depends on what you are trying to accomplish.

Many small business applications have CMS systems already developed.

For example, mortgage brokers and realtors already have software apps that allow these groups to create their own website. Blogging also has pre-built software apps for those wanting to start their own blog.

Folks interested in selling a limited line of products also have pre-built "store" and/or "shopping cart" software apps that can be licensed yearly.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel if someone already has developed an application interface that can be licensed and used. These types of apps are usually developed with the novice in mind.

If pre-built, licensable apps don't exists, then you need to go to the custom route which is expensive and time consuming.

Again, your answer is entirely dependent on the website's goal. In my line of work, I can't buy prebuilt software as everything has to be custom designed and engineered.

Another example is this forum which is only about 5 weeks old -- when I set out to create a forum I knew there was a set of prebuilt forum applications available that could be licensed. I bought a license instead of rebuilding my own forum, which would have cost $1,000's in time and money.
 

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M-M

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Aug 27, 2007
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Thanks, MJ. I have a couple of ideas right now. As mentioned before, one is a niche-dating site, but I'm just not sure how much potential it has. I guess I just have to make it small and test it.
The other involves offering a service to the client, something they can edit and customize themselves. The thing is, something exactly like it already exists, so I'd have to add something or put a new spin on it. It has potential though.
 

ChadS

New Contributor
Sep 4, 2007
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Not sure if this is the right section.
How do I go about building my website? I come up with all the features and how it's supposed to work. Do I then come up with the basic design myself or have the programmer do it? Is it better to find a programmer first and then come up with the features together?

Thanks in advance.
Hello everyone. Just found and joined the forum today and plan to get an intro post up soon but wanted to chime in on this one first.

If your budget is tight, you can always go with free, open-source templates. Some of my favorites are:If you're building a niche dating site with affiliate programs, all you really need is a static site (i.e. no database interaction or dynamic pages). Therefore, these templates can be customized and used as is.

If you're planning on building a dating site where members join and interact with each other, take a look at HotScripts. HotScripts is a huge web directory filled with paid and free scripts. I did a search here and came up with 117 listing for scripts to run a dating site. Purchasing a pre-made script outright will probably save you money over hiring a programmer. I found a free dating script here. You can customize the look and feel of your script with inspirations from the free templates.

Once you are profitable and want your project to appear more "unique," you can always hire a redesign and pay for a custom coder at that time.

Good luck!
 

MJ DeMarco

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Hello everyone. Just found and joined the forum today and plan to get an intro post up soon but wanted to chime in on this one first.

If your budget is tight, you can always go with free, open-source templates. Some of my favorites are:If you're building a niche dating site with affiliate programs, all you really need is a static site (i.e. no database interaction or dynamic pages). Therefore, these templates can be customized and used as is.

If you're planning on building a dating site where members join and interact with each other, take a look at HotScripts. HotScripts is a huge web directory filled with paid and free scripts. I did a search here and came up with 117 listing for scripts to run a dating site. Purchasing a pre-made script outright will probably save you money over hiring a programmer. I found a free dating script here. You can customize the look and feel of your script with inspirations from the free templates.

Once you are profitable and want your project to appear more "unique," you can always hire a redesign and pay for a custom coder at that time.

Good luck!
Nice first post ... speed++
 
OP
OP
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M-M

New Contributor
Aug 27, 2007
107
10
15
NC
Hello everyone. Just found and joined the forum today and plan to get an intro post up soon but wanted to chime in on this one first.

If your budget is tight, you can always go with free, open-source templates. Some of my favorites are:If you're building a niche dating site with affiliate programs, all you really need is a static site (i.e. no database interaction or dynamic pages). Therefore, these templates can be customized and used as is.

If you're planning on building a dating site where members join and interact with each other, take a look at HotScripts. HotScripts is a huge web directory filled with paid and free scripts. I did a search here and came up with 117 listing for scripts to run a dating site. Purchasing a pre-made script outright will probably save you money over hiring a programmer. I found a free dating script here. You can customize the look and feel of your script with inspirations from the free templates.

Once you are profitable and want your project to appear more "unique," you can always hire a redesign and pay for a custom coder at that time.

Good luck!

Wow, thanks a lot! I'll go through these carefully. I know nothing about it and some of those terms confuse me.
 

ToddW

New Contributor
Sep 4, 2007
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California
Be careful using an open source / free design templates for a company website.

Many people that are online a lot and see the same design/layout over and over (or even twice) will think less of the company and look at them as not very professional.

I see no problem using an existing script w/an existing template and having it modified by a designer for a few hundred bucks. I however wouldn't use something existing with only a custom logo.

Also, based on what you describe as your requirements for the software your site needs I would say there is no way you will get that and a design for under $5,000.
 
OP
OP
M

M-M

New Contributor
Aug 27, 2007
107
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Is it feasible to use one of the free/inexpensive templete to create something I can test with? I'm not going to invest that much money without knowing if it has potential.
I guess there's no real way of knowing this without testing.

Another question is where to learn about SEO and so on? My knowledge is very minimal.
 

ToddW

New Contributor
Sep 4, 2007
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California
Is it feasible to use one of the free/inexpensive templete to create something I can test with? I'm not going to invest that much money without knowing if it has potential.
I guess there's no real way of knowing this without testing.

Another question is where to learn about SEO and so on? My knowledge is very minimal.
Feel free to post SEO related questions I know Andrew knows a good deal and I can share what I know too.
 
OP
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M-M

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Aug 27, 2007
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Thanks for all the input.
 
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M-M

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Aug 27, 2007
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After lots of thinking and back-and-forth I have decided to pursue two ideas: The niche dating, and a community. I know there are templates available for either one, but I'm still unsure what the next step is after purchasing the domain as soon as I have thought of a name. I design the sites and can I then use a HTML editor to fiddle around myself or do I just outsource it? How much can you modify available templates?

I'm sorry for all the questions, I just feel a little lost right now.
 

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Luke12321

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I am also interested in this post as I have been giving some thought to starting up a community (message board). I will follow this closely and tell you guys when I decide to make the jump! (Whenever these teachers stop dumping so much homework on me!!!) :)
 

Andrew

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Aug 8, 2007
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If you guys are want to learn a lot about building a web site, I'd suggest searching & reading existing webmaster forums. There are millions of pages of threads out there covering absolutely everything about building websites.

I don't want to sound like an a$$, but you should be researching first so you can ask good questions. There are 1000 different answers for how to build a website all depending on what you want to build, what tools you have, and how much money you have to spend.

1) If you are not going to spend even $2,000 of dollars, then you have to learn this stuff yourself: building a website, publishing it, maintaining it. Again, start reading and researching. This is a critical skill to developing websites. It took me a good 6 months to finally get to the point I could easily develop and publish a website, this won't happen over night.

2) If you are going to spend the money, then you personally don't focus on the technical stuff. Instead you should be focusing on the marketing and promotion side, and paying someone else to handle the rest. Hire at least one full time outsourced worker to handle the website work, should be $1500-$2000 a month tops. This will beat the heck out of overpaying a US web design firm (who is hiring an outsourced worker anyways and then adding their profit margins on to your bill.) Now spend the time focusing on learning about search engine optimization, advertising, and conversion metrics.

Here are the website I started with when I was learning:
http://www.sitepoint.com/

There are also a few others:
http://forums.digitalpoint.com/
http://www.webmasterworld.com/

Between that and Google you can find everything you want.
 

aptohosting

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FYI: None of the images on that paintball site are working. I don't think it's on my end. Might want to look into that.

Yep, I think he is overhauling the inventory.
 

Luke12321

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Thanks Andrew for the reply. I will check out the site. I have taken a class on web design so I have some knowledge but I agree that "How to build a website" is very very broad and will never all be covered here within a thread. My best advice for someone starting a website (I have started one before) is after the idea generation stage is over, start searching the web for advice on how to accomplish task of designing the page. Or just pay up and focus on marketing :)
 
OP
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M-M

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Yes, thank you Andrew. I've already checked out the sites, and especially the forum has helped me already.
 

MJ DeMarco

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Have you researched the competition for your niche dating site? Its a very competitive marketspace. Are others doing it? Or not good? What is your revenue model?
 
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M-M

New Contributor
Aug 27, 2007
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Have you researched the competition for your niche dating site? Its a very competitive marketspace. Are others doing it? Or not good? What is your revenue model?
I have started, but not completed, my research and I need to be sure before I get started there, because as you said, it's highly, highly competitive.
The other idea will not take much and could be used to get my feet wet without risking much, but has potential to grow a lot.
 

michael515

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Aug 27, 2007
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IMO, it's wise to think in terms of if this is a skill you want to develop or if it's just a task that you should outsource.

I think that knowing how to build and maintain a site is a crucial skill for an e-entrepreneur. To be more specific, know how to put the work of others together. Between hotscripts.com and opensource I've found 95% of what I've needed. I just had to tie them together. For the rest I'd do a search on the web, or hire a programmer. Leave the hard-tech stuff for them.

I'm not a programmer and there are some fantastic programmers out there so I outsource in that respect. But in terms of the day to day stuff you should know how to update content, change settings and the structure, be able to integrate different applications into your site, etc. It's not so much money, but time. If you want to incorporate something it could take a week (on the long side) to get the programmer to do that which could take you 10 minutes to complete.

I was amazed at how easy it is to learn code when you use an editor like Dreamweaver and can switch between screens to create something and see the underlying code. Dreamweaver is what I use and would never use Frontpage again.

I've not used sites like sitebuildit.com so I have no feedback there.

Hope this helps.
 

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