Noob trying to build a complex site - lost in information overload (4 posts)

  1. jentrepreneur
    Posted 1 year ago #

    Hi everyone! This is my first post to the forums, so might as well hit the ground running. I am trying to build a website and was using a developer. However, I paid them to create a logo just to see how the relationship would work out and they basically did nothing but copy one from another site and add my name. I came up with a design myself in MS Paint, sent it over, and they made it look nice. I wanted to change some colors and they got all upset saying I was making too many changes and could only do 1 more thing. Because of this, I'm not too sure about throwing another $10k at them only to be bullied into a site that doesn't match my vision. So, I'm trying to do it myself. I need to know how it all works anyway because once it's done, I've gotta run it and I'm sure it would add up if I have to run to the developers every time I have an issue or want to make changes.

    Basically, I want a site that charges a one-time membership fee. Members will set up storefronts, similar to eBay, but instead of currency, they will exchange credits. Their initial membership fee will be translated into credits. They will not be able to "cash out" their credits, so no worries there, but credits should transfer member to member and site to member in real time. Members should also be able to purchase additional credits from the site. Additionally, members will have access to a social network, be able to add friends, post to forums, and message other users. Member profiles need to be flexible as they revolve partly around goal setting and members will need to be able to update their profiles as they reach goal milestones as well as track how far they've come.

    There is so much information out there that it's been confusing trying to figure out what to do. I thought it would be best to use MU, MarketPress, and PressBuddy, but after reading through some stuff on the forums and on-line, I'm not sure if they really work well together and I want everything to flow nicely and look cohesive. I'm at a loss and greatly appreciate any help. I'm a pretty fast learner and hope I can pick this stuff up, but so far, I'm overwhelmed. I have no set launch date, so that's a plus, but I'm hoping to have everything working right by August. Am I a crazy person or can this be done?

    As of right now, all I've done is install XAMPP, set up the MySQL Super User and the XAMPP Directory user. I also downloaded WP through the bitnami stack. I'm afraid to go in and start trying stuff because I don't want to put in a lot of time only to have to un-do everything later.

    I understand this is a lot of information and I certainly don't expect a step-by-step explanation as a response, but any help is appreciated. Thanks!

  2. EMG
    Forum Volunteer
    Posted 1 year ago #

    Hi there! :)

    Let me see if I can break a few things down for you so that you have a better idea at what you're looking at in terms of using WordPress and trying to do what you would like to do.

    Being that time spent is particularly important to you, I will take the liberty and speak my thoughts honestly:

    If you are not already familiar with WordPress, if you yourself are not a web developer (developer, not designer), and if you do not have someone who IS a developer you can trust to help you on this project, you might find yourself in a situation where you will feel continually overloaded by things that need to be managed.

    I say this because what you want is not anything native to WordPress straight out of the box but rather, something that could be accomplished with the aid of several add-on functionalities.

    It CAN be done, but it will be a complex process and possibly with a lot of trial and error owing to the complexity of everything 'playing nicely together' and 'in the way you want it'.

    Yes, as you have described, you can use plugins, special themes, and the like to get there - in fact, there are even specific WordPress-related developers who specialize in creating themes and plugins to help facilitate the building of sites like yours, but the fact is: the site that you want would be like an onion - layer upon layer upon layer with each layer working with the other to achieve a final end result.

    To kind of break it down for you:

    - WordPress as the foundation, but with multiuser setup (which may require you interfacing with whomever manages your server because some webhosts don't natively allow for end-user generation of another WordPress setup)

    - something like bbPress for actual forums (unless you want to try and integrate something like phpBB which requires more experience and more tinkering)

    - something like BuddyPress for the social networking aspect with possible integration with other social networks

    - customized comments if you want to integrate that with the forums and social networking

    - some plugin related to eCommerce for the one-time site sign-up

    - some plugin related to eCommerce amongst users (but customized because of the credits)

    - and whatever else you may need to give the functionality you want

    And, at the end all be all, everything needs to play well together.

    Looking nice is one problem but it's the easiest to solve.

    Integrating nicely in terms of code, on the other hand, is the more important thing to tackle and oftentimes the most difficult and it is not uncommon for complex websites to still need customized in-house coding at the end all be all on top of everything despite the integration of theme and plugins.

    (Not to say the plugins and themes won't play nicely together because most of the times they do; it's just that the more plugins and add-ons you add in to the mix - especially very specialized ones, the more potential there is for conflicts in code and the like.)

    That said:

    1) First things first, if you aren't familiar with WordPress already, simply get a WordPress site up and running to familiarize yourself with how WordPress works in the first place and do multiuser.

    Foundations need to be built first.

    2) After that, select a feature/site functionality you think is the most important and see what plugin or theme might work best and experiment.

    Customize accordingly, see how well it integrates. If you have multiple choices, pick the best while bearing in mind the other features you still need to integrate.

    3) After that, add in the next feature/site functionality you think is important and add that in.

    Again, research, install, play around, customize, and select accordingly.

    4) Repeat the above step, debug between each step.

    End all be all, especially if you are new to everything, it is of my sincere opinion that you can't be afraid of 'wasting time' and if potentially wasting time is a major concern for you, then perhaps the know-how and experience of a more seasoned developer would be something to look into.

    We were all newbies once - including those of us who came from a web design and web development background (me included) - and we have all tugged at our hair over problems big and small over the course of our experiences.

    It's not a bad thing; it's just a part of learning and it simply comes with the package. :)

    Good luck with everything!

  3. jentrepreneur
    Posted 1 year ago #

    Thanks for the reply! I didn't mean "wasting time" as in I don't want to put any time into it. i just wasn't sure where to start and didn't want to start with the wrong thing and do it all wrong. I was looking for a good starting point. I wasn't sure if I should install everything at once, or do as you suggested and piece it all together.

    I will start with a multiuser site first and build from there. Thanks again!

  4. EMG
    Forum Volunteer
    Posted 1 year ago #

    Sorry for the late reply, but I wanted to reaffirm my stance that a piece at a time is probably best and say that what you're doing is a positive step in the right direction. :)

    I also wanted to apologize for partially misunderstanding what you said re: 'wasting time'.

    When I first started out, I was equally concerned about accidentally doing things wrong, too, or doing something wrong and being unable to backtrack to fix it.

    The bad news is, I definitely made some mistakes. The better news is, it was all a great learning experience and it taught me so much in the end.

    Best of luck on everything!

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