Newbie website building advice

Discussion in 'Web Design and Development' started by Dont42Panic, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. Dont42Panic macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2008
    Jeffersonville, IN
    Alright I am a pretty big geek, but I've never put any effort into website building, but I think that's about to change. I have volunteered to try and implement a new website at work, but I am a little unsure of where to start.

    I have a pretty specific idea of what I'd like the site to do, so I am hoping if I list what I have in mind some nice soul on this board can direct me down the right path. I have no problem geeking out and learning how to use different programs, but I want to make sure it will get me to where I need to go first.

    Currently I have iWeb and Rapidweaver, so if either of those will work it would be awesome, if not please suggest a different program.

    What I have in mind:
    - Currently I have about 10 coworkers, each of us has a caseload of clients.
    - I would like each client to get a unique username and password
    - Each client with a username would be assigned to their specific worker
    - A wide variety of training modules would exist
    - Myself and my coworkers could assign specific modules to each client assigned to us (most clients will not require all the modules)
    - As a client completes a module it would notify the worker
    - While going through the module if there was a question there would be a field for the client to submit the question to their assigned worker
    - The question would be answered at a later time and either emailed to the client or left in a message box for the worker when they next logged in
    - If there were any required documentation that the worker needed from the client it would pop up on a main page when the client next logged on, along with a list of modules assigned to the client (the main point here is it needs to be customizable so different types of documentation can be listed)

    Now then, I am not envisioning any personal information being entered online, like social security numbers or credit cards or anything like that. I am just wanting to use username and passwords for the clients so they can have a more tailored experience, security is not that crucial, the training modules will be general stuff that we do not charge for.

    Again I am not looking to be told how to build this site, just looking for programs that will allow me to build it. Any advice on books I should be reading to get started or plugins that I will need to purchase or anything else would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    It would require a CMS for something like this and you're best off hiring someone to do it as it won't be easy to setup or manage. You could very easily find yourself with an insecure setup that could compromise your client's personal information and I doubt you want that, even if you don't think it's that important. Since you're not even aware if programs like iWeb would be applicable to what you want, you're not going to get this up on your own without a whole lot of effort and months. In terms of the kinds of CMS you would want to look at, Joomla and Drupal are popular.
  3. eleven2brett macrumors regular

    Oct 20, 2008
    Building a website with a few static pages is one thing, but what your describing is something that is going to be a lot more intensive. If your deadset on pursuing it though, be prepared to make a significant investment in learning a CMS.
  4. ChicoWeb macrumors 65816


    Aug 16, 2004
    Sounds like a pretty extensive feature list. Pretty tough for your first project. You may want to think about what the others are saying, because a even a veteran programmer of 3-5 years, would still be challenged.
  5. Dont42Panic thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 23, 2008
    Jeffersonville, IN
    Yeah it probably is biting off a little too much, but hey that's part of the fun right?

    In terms of a timeframe it is definitely a long term project, not something I was trying to learn over a weekend. We see a major shift coming in the services we provide, but it will probably be a year or so down the line, so I think I would have time to play around with it. Worst case scenario I learn about a subject I don't have any experience with and realize it is too much for me.

    The brief research I had done into iWeb and Rapidweaver made me think that they wouldn't be a right fit, but I wanted to throw that out there just in case I was wrong.

    As far as security goes, I am concerned with our client's security, but we have a different program that houses all of their secure data. This site would strictly be educational only, I don't even want to give them a chance to submit personal information. They would only log in to take training modules assigned to them and ask questions to their assigned worker about the training.

    Based off the two options that angelwatt suggested (thanks by the way) Joomla seems to be an interesting option. Any suggestions about how to go about learning more about it? I am definitely a reader and I checked out Amazon and saw they have several books on Joomla. Is it the type of subject someone could read a book or two and not be completely baffled? Basically trying to figure out if I am trying to run before I crawl. is there a specific topic I should learn about before trying to learn about Joomla?

    I promise I understand it is going to be a complex project and I imagine I am going to have to take baby steps when I get in there and start playing around with it. I am just trying to set myself up for the best possible result.
  6. citizenzen macrumors 65816

    Mar 22, 2010
    I'm with the rest of the folks here. Your first website and you want to tackle that? If you haven't started drinking, you may want to take it up.

    As for programs... outside of the CMS you'll need to pull this off, any text editing program will do. There's a thread floating around here that covers that specific question. Don't try to create a website with some WYSIWYG program. Learn how to code by hand. It is really the only way to go. There are an incredible resources available on the web. You should take advantage of them.

    Also, the biggest time suck (one that I took too long to tumble to) is FTPing every little change to your hosted site. There are programs XAMPP and MAMP that install Apache, PHP and MYSQL on your computer so you can develop your site locally (at work and at home) and save a ton in uploading time.

    These are just a few things to get you started. God speed you crazy son-of-a-gun!
  7. angelwatt Moderator emeritus


    Aug 16, 2005
    I haven't tried any books on Joomla or other CMS so I'm not sure what all they cover. They likely don't spend much time teaching you how to program PHP and doing DB queries though. If you need functionality that Joomla doesn't provide and you can't find modules for, you'll definitely need to know PHP to add the functionality. You'd probably want a book on that. You haven't mentioned if you have any programming knowledge. Some people can pick it up pretty easily, while others will never understand it. Just depends on how your mind works.

    You should probably read up databases as well and creating queries with MySQL, but I wouldn't say it's necessary to buy a book for that. You can probably get along fine with tutorials online. You should check out W3 Schools for starting to understand the various web technologies. They have easy to follow guides for all the stuff you'll be doing, but they don't go into tons of details. I still visit their site from time-to-time to refresh myself on things I don't use very often.

    As a last piece of advice, don't try this all at once. Start with some test pages just focusing on HTML and CSS to help you understand the markup language and how the two work together. These more basic things will make customizing Joomla much more bearable. As the saying goes, "learn to walk before you run." Good luck on your effort and hope you have patience.
  8. kernkraft macrumors 68020


    Jun 25, 2009
    Why don't you just try something like Exchange or Google Docs? For most of your needs, you don't even need a website. Although, a website would just generate extra hassle.

    Don't think that just because it's free, Google Docs is not professional enough. I know investment banks using free services like that. Your boss might be more impressed about saving money.
  9. TalkAboutApple macrumors member

    Jun 6, 2008
    Just to echo the others, this is a big project. You see, the minute you start asking a website to have real, authenticated users (rather than people just looking at it), it becomes a web application, not a site.

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