Clueless how to get started with my idea, please assist...

Discussion in 'Pre-Sales Questions' started by peeve, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. peeve

    peeve New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2009
    Messages:
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    Ok, here's the deal. I have a great idea for a subscription website, but i have no clue how to go about starting it. I'm not clueless with computers, as i am a Computer Science major. However, all i'm remotely familiar with is C++ programming (i also sat out the past 2 semesters, so i'm even rusty in that category), not web design or html. From what i've read on other sites, and here, it seems that aMember is the way to go.

    First and foremost, how do i start? Keep in mind, the only thing i have right now is the idea in my head. Correct me if i'm wrong, but i believe that aMember is like the internal-workings of the site. They don't assist in creating the website itself. Which leads me to the main question, how do i do this? What is good, inexpensive, easy-to-use web design software? Like i said, i know a good bit about computers, but nothing about web design.

    This site is mainly for membership. It will have a cheap, monthly fee. There will be only one way to pay...monthly. I've run through it in my head, and cutting a deal for a multi-month/year subscription isn't an option.

    The site will need:

    1. Forums
    2. Monthly voting system (1 vote per account each month, 1 account per IP Address)
    3. Easy-to-use monthly subscription service (aMember?)
    4. Good quality
    5. Cheap cost (while maintaining site quality, of course)

    A few additional questions:

    What payment services (Paypal, etc.) have the cheapest cost for me to use them? I read somewhere that they charge around .50 per transaction. I'm planning on my site having a very cheap membership fee, so this could be a problem.

    If a member of the site were to find out my Paypal account ID (or whatever service i use), is it possible for them to hack it and steal my money?

    Before starting, should i speak to some form of lawyer first? I know there will be copyrights, trademarking, etc. involved, and i need to know how to handle this without anyone stealing my idea before i can start it.


    Any information at all will be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you to anyone willing to take on the challenge to answer my ridiculous amount of questions.
  2. davidm1

    davidm1 aMember User & Partner

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Messages:
    4,435
    1) get started! ideas are worthless unless acted upon. I wouldnt worry about spending money on lawyers etc.. until you prove the site is what people want and willing to pay for. Use your revenues to pay for such things.

    2) you can host with hostgator for $5 a month.

    3) you can use paypal, it will be 35cents + like 2-3%. Dont worry about someone hacking in. sure it can happen, but if you dont take action out of fears like these you wont get anywhere.

    4) voting system- not sure what you want to do so cant recommend, you may be able to find something you can use at "hotscripts".

    David
  3. peeve

    peeve New Member

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    Aug 13, 2009
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    Thanks for the info david. I'm currently reading up on HTML, it's not as complicated as i thought it would be, lol. Plus, as a Computer Science major, it is something i'll need to learn anyway.

    If anyone else has any info, feel free to post it. Thank you.
  4. jackgordon

    jackgordon Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2009
    Messages:
    267
    You should be somewhat comfortable with html, and to a lesser extent php to get the most out of owning a website like this, but these days it is not absolutely required.

    What you want is a "content management system" (CMS) like Wordpress. As David suggested, get a hosting account at Hostgator, and make sure it includes a feature called Fantastico. With that, you can set up a number of different scripts (including WP, forums and some polling scripts) with a single click of a button. WP also has lots of free plugins that you could use to build forums and voting systems inside of it, for seamless integration.

    Wordpress will remove the need for html knowledge by giving you an online admin panel for all content and administrative functions. Of course, you'll want to spend some time getting comfortable in WP, but that is a lot easier than html and php.

    I have not used this, but when you buy aMember you can also get a plugin for Wordpress that will greatly simplify the integration between those two systems. If you are not comfortable really getting your hands dirty, there are a few people here that you can hire for a reasonable fee to help you.

    If you are interested in consulting with an attorney on this, I have a good referral for you - he actually specializes in this exact kind of project. But I agree with David on this - don't spend money on that until you have a good sense of the project's actual viability.

    My friend, you are entering business at a time when just about anyone can do just about anything, with nothing more than a little initiative and a lack of fear. I wish you the best of luck.
  5. peeve

    peeve New Member

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    Aug 13, 2009
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    Thanks for the info. The more I learn how to use HTML, the more tempted I am to build the site from scratch on my own. I'm not sure if now-days that is such a good idea.

    Also, as far as the voting system goes, here is what I want:

    1. A non-forum voting system on the site itself.
    2. Ability for members to submit an item to be voted on. One item per account.
    3. One vote per account, per month, in each section (probably 5 sections).
    4. Ability to easily see who is in the lead in each section.

    The reason a forum won't work for this is because it is one of the primary uses of the site. Using it through the forum would not only look unprofessional, but it would be extremely complicated. I'm not sure if a voting system like this even exists, but any info on a good system would be greatly appreciated.
  6. thehpmc

    thehpmc Member

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    Aug 24, 2006
    Messages:
    901
    Google 'internet voting script' or similar there are several out there.
  7. moar

    moar New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Messages:
    3
    What you want to do is take an already established framework that has a huge userbase and develop your idea into it.

    I will give you one tip for the forums:-

    Forums

    vBulletin: www.vbulletin.com
    Pros: Huge community, lots of free mods covering every feature you can image, (including subscription features)
    Cons: It costs round $160 per year for the leased license

    Misc: vBulletin 4 will come out soon with intergrated CMS. vBulletin

    The suggestions of Wordpress and Joomla from the other guys is also very good as, again, huge community with thousands of plugins.

    Forget HMTL. If you want to hand code it, you will need CSS + PHP + MySQL at the very least. If you want to go hardcore, like Twitter for example, it's Ruby on Rails (or it used to be they use something else now I think).

    My advise is dont re-invent the wheel. Find something that is good with a big community, then develop your own plugins and addons etc.

    Building your own site is not easy because it has to be watertight otherwise you can and will be hacked. Software like Wordpress is tested daily by millions of people so you can't beat that!

    aMember very good also. I plan to use Wordpress with aMember.

    As someone said, check out www.hotscripts.com .
  8. ber1

    ber1 New Member

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    Jul 22, 2009
    Messages:
    16
    i used serif webplus x2 to make my site which was incredible, as it was both powerful and very intuitive. while it doesnt have a cms as yet you can integrate it with cms systems...also it was v cheap!

    good luck with your project

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