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  1. #1
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    Ok, so I know it might seem crazy, but I never claimed to be sane. I've recently had an idea to implement a website due to the fact that when I was doing personal research, I could NOT find what I was looking for. So, to me, it's a gap that I could fill and a resource I'm sure many would appreciate.

    I'm wanting to create a directory-type site that has a database of all the online degree programs available. There are a few sites like this now, but they are nowhere near comprehensive enough and poorly done in my opinion. I'm currently having that research done for me so I have my data set. When that is done, I'm expect to have data on 2,000 - 3,000 online programs. I want to put this data into a directory that is searchable and has custom filters.

    http://www.directoryofschools.com/ is a good example of kind of what I'm going for only a bit simpler. I want to database all the programs with some details on each one. Then when a site visitor goes to the site they can search all programs or narrow down by area of concentration, degree level, military-friendly or not, etc. Eventually, I'd like to implement a rating/review system on each program, but considering my tight budget, that can be a feature I'd be willing to add later down the road.

    I obviously would need to provide the data to the developer, but in what format? I assume the site would need to reference a database based on certain criteria to show only relevant results, but I'm not sure how to prepare the data in a way the developer could use.

    I'm a pretty savvy computer user, but I really don't have any programming or behind-the-scenes knowledge other than very basic HTML - which is why I'm looking into hiring an expert. Any thoughts and/or advice would be VERY much appreciated!

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  3. #2
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    A good developer would be able to work with an Excel spreadsheet and create a database off of that. Just make sure that your information is organized in a consistent, columnar format. Try not to do something like this:

    Company 1
    Address 1
    Address 2
    City
    State/Province
    Zip/Postal
    Telephone

    Company 2
    Email
    Telephone
    Address 1
    Address 2
    State/Province

    In the case of ASP/ASP.NET (programming languages/frameworks), it will recognize the first row of your spreadsheet as column headers, so this will help keep your columns organized. If you have Access database skills, you can go this route as well.

    A Word doc would work in a pinch with consistent formatting, but it's tricky and I wouldn't recommend it.

    No wonder you don't want to build a site like the directoryofschools.com one. That thing's a joke. I've lived in Canada for 34 years, and I didn't know until now that Arizona was part of my country...and yet, we get Buffalo Bills games instead of Arizona Cardinals games. I'M SO CONFUSED.
    sebooth87 likes this.
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  4. #3
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    LOL!! That website really is a joke. I want the general framework of it, but I want the site I'm creating to actually be useful and be a comprehensive list of online programs. Every online degree directory, no matter what degree you are searching for, comes up with University of Phoenix, Capella, Kaplan, etc. I'm not discrediting those schools, but there are SO MANY brick and mortar universities that offer distance programs that aren't advertised or indexed anywhere. So, basically, I want to do the same thing as directoryofschools.com but I want to do it right.

    I've gotten some feedback from other sources mentioning that I should give the dev the data in a CSV format. If I'm correct, Excel will export files into .csv format, so that should be no problem.

    Now my hangup is deciding how to present the format so it is easily filtered. For example, on directoryofschools.com, you can use dropdowns to choose degree level and area of concentration to produce search results. I'm wondering how I go about "assigning" these values to each degree program so when a search is made, the relevant results will display. Should it just be another series columns in Excel? For example, Column A = School Name, Column B = Degree Name, Column C = Degree Level (Bachelors, Masters, etc.), Column D = Area of Concentration of Degree (Business, Communications, Psychology, etc.). Would this work? Am I on the right track? I really don't want to provide my developer with crap

  5. #4
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    That is correct. Excel can export files into .csv format. It's actually one of the reasons I suggested Excel (multiple format options).

    As far as how to format the data, as long as it's consistent, a good developer won't be picky about the formatting. The key is to keep it consistent, and the way you've laid it out should work nicely. Of course, the really trite yet correct answer is "ask your developer", but again...a good developer won't care that much. I've worked with all sorts of different data sources and formats myself, and as long as I can open the file I can find a way to convert it to my own purposes.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

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  6. #5
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    Thanks a ton for your input

  7. #6
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    No problem.

    Have you already got the dev? If not, you may want to post in the marketplace here. There are some really good programmer-types here.
    m3n0tu18 likes this.
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  8. #7
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    Well, I've been shopping around a little on Elance. I'm on an extremely tight budget since I'm trying to do this all out-of-pocket (and I'm not rolling in the dough, trust me). I was told that freelancers on sites like Elance and oDesk usually offer far lower prices than companies. Right now, I have a quote of $300 to develop the site and implement it for me, as well as teach me how to use CMS. I would like a really fancy, uber-awesome site, but just can't afford it. I'm hoping if I can make a little bit of revenue off of it with advertising, I can do some upgrades and implement some of the nifty features I have in mind.

  9. #8
    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    Yeah, that's generally true. Freelancers generally don't have company-level overheads, so they can provide something at a lower rate.

    But someone's willing to develop the site for $300, I'd be a little wary. That's a price that either comes from someone looking to prove him/herself or (far more likely) someone who isn't going to do all that much of quality for it. If you can, get a portfolio of stuff the person has done. Not only that, if you showed the person that directoryofschools.com thing, it may be that the person looked at it and thought, "okay, build a clone of this, it won't take much"...which is clearly what you don't want. In other words, don't just focus on the price. Saving money's important and all good, but your big thing is you want something that can give you an ROI.
    If I've helped you out in any way, please pay it forward. My wife and I are walking for Autism Speaks. Please donate, and thanks.

    If someone helped you out, be sure to "Like" their post and/or help them in kind. The "Like" link is on the bottom right of each post, beside the "Share" link.

    My stuff (well, some of it): My bowling alley site | Canadian Postal Code Info (beta)

  10. #9
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    Great advice. And you're correct, I am a little wary since the price is right; however, I did look at an extensive portfolio of their work and it meets my standards - at least for now. The good thing about it also is that I get to approve the design along the way. We have a sort of "pay as you go" system set up so I can either approve their work or ask them to make corrections before paying a portion and then proceeding. They have great reviews, so I'm going to give it a shot. If it fails miserably, then all that will happen is I'll be $300 poorer with a bruised ego. And I'll save for a bit to do it right. But, I'm hoping the risk I'm taking pays off. We shall see On another note, the price was $400 but I batted my eyelashes at him and agreed to allow him to put a link back to his profile in my footer. *grin*

  11. #10
    WDF Staff George Dolidze's Avatar
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    I was searching for the exact same website you are trying to build. Thank you.
    My freelancer website: DolidzeDesign



    You only need a parachute if you plan on skydiving twice.


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