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Thread: Day 1: New Project....Need help figuring out how to proceed (forum format)

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    Day 1: New Project....Need help figuring out how to proceed (forum format)

    I have an idea for a website that I know is a winner. I'm going to be a little cagey about the details for obvious reasons but I'll describe it as best I can. I've found forum software on line but don't know if there is any web-building software that would allow *me* to create the kind of forum I need. If not, I need to know, if you were me, how you would get this thing created. I'd like to create something that I could eventually edit myself. It would be nice to find software that could do the basics then hire someone to create the home page for me.

    The basic design would be a lot like craigslist. One database but several forums but all of the forums having the same basic design, categories, stickies etc. I want them to first be able to register, which gives them access to the site, then they choose their state, then within that state choose the ...lets just call it a..."High School" (they are not High Schools. I am using this as an example) they're at. I want each school to have its own password so people from other HS's can't use it. But I also want the user to be able to move to a different HS and log in with that school's password.

    I also want there to be a guest area w/in each HS's forum where people without that school's password can address people from that school. Also within the guest area and I need to have a school map and clickable room numbers that will take you to photos of different parts of the school.

    In the password-protected area I would like to have a place where people in each school can leave their contact information on file which can be viewed by anyone else who has access to that school's forum.

    The income for the site would come from the advertising -- if this goes national it will be a massive money-maker so it would be important that there was space for that. The design could be fairly simple. I'd like space at the top of each schools forum to put a photo of each school and a little info about it.

    I have the domain name. I don't know what needs to be done first. What is the easiest and least expensive way to get this site created? Is there software that will allow me to create this, and then tweak it later? And if so, which ones do what I need it to do and which programming languages do I have any shot at learning myself. Every time I add a high school I will need to create a banner for it's forum and add it's link to the home page search under that state.

    If anyone could give me the Cliff's notes version of how the advertising works, that would be great. I guess there will need to be stats on how many people are logging on each day in order to determine ad prices. ?

    Thanks so much for your help!
    Last edited by cannesdo; Feb 08th, 2015 at 06:39 PM.

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    WDF Staff mlseim's Avatar
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    I'm just curious if you have already discussed your idea with school districts. Schools are public and have specific laws governing things like privacy, security, and public use. Example, even having a website that shows a photo of a student can be a liability if the parents of that student have not given specific permission to have their photo taken. That includes students in the background of a photo. Most high school students are not yet 18 years old. Therefore, they are not adults.

    I would be almost 100% sure that the high schools in my school district would not allow a website (not accredited by the school board) to be allowed to perform any school related activity on the internet.

    And the thought about advertising adds a whole layer of legal questions. The schools in my district are public schools, paid by public residents (tax payers).

    Not that you might have a really great idea, but I'm just saying .... have you checked into the legal part of this?

    Possibly, you don't live in the U.S. ... if that's the case, then go for it.


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    Quote Originally Posted by mlseim View Post
    I'm just curious if you have already discussed your idea with school districts. Schools are public and have specific laws governing things like privacy, security, and public use..
    Thanks for the reply but please note I stated need to be a little cagey about the specific nature of the website so that no one decides to us the idea, which is why I said "let's call them... High Schools" -- for the sake of an example. They are not public schools, or schools at all.

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    very well. I don't have any answers pertaining to advertising.


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    Unpaid WDF Intern TheGAME1264's Avatar
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    To answer your last question first, the advertising depends on several variables.

    1) Traffic (obviously).

    2) Less obviously, demographics of your traffic. As much as you can get. Browser usage. Mobile vs. desktop. Age. Income. etc.

    3) Even more less obviously, any psychographic characteristics that are at least somewhat unique. Do your users read a lot of books? Are they more inclined to play sports? Do they eat a lot? Are they gamers? Is there a combination of factors?

    4) Does your site fit a specific niche that ideally no one else is in? That's a tough one.

    5) Most importantly what your site is worth to advertisers, and 1-4 largely determine #5. A simple example of the combination of factors is Google Adsense/Adwords. You can run Adsense/Adwords and the value of each ad varies depending on the ad, target market, clickthrough ratio, what the advertiser is willing to spend, etc.

    Basically, there's no set price or even set range of prices. You can charge pennies per 1000 views or you can charge $10.00 a clickthrough and any and all points in between.

    To answer your deeper question, you're thinking this through wrong. I don't know what your idea is, but I don't need to; you've told us enough to let me know that you are.

    I'll tell you where/why you're thinking it through wrong:

    1) "Massive money-maker". It may be a good idea, but here's the thing...this forum, and others, are littered with posts about "I have an idea that will make tons of money online but I don't know the first thing about implementing it." To date, I haven't seen or heard of one person whose idea has actually borne fruit, nor do I ever expect to. Having an idea and a dream does not make it a good idea or a realistic projection.

    2) It doesn't sound as though you've talked to a business adviser yet. Do this first. Spend $1000 and be sure. You're better off spending $1000 to find out your idea is/isn't a good one than you are spending the time, energy and money to find out it won't. You will spend a lot more than $1000 if you don't have a solid idea and plan.

    3) You're looking for the "easiest and least expensive" alternative. That is never, ever, ever the smart way to go about running a business. Saving money is smart, as long as quality isn't sacrificed; when it comes to "the easiest and least expensive alternative" online, quality is usually sacrificed. The correct approach is "the highest quality product I can get within a defined, realistic budget." That's where the business adviser comes into play. Saving money is fine, but not at the expense of a better product...the product in this case being the site.

    This phrase, in conjunction with "massive money-maker", is enough to scare off most experienced designers/developers. They're two disturbingly common buzzphrases and, if you're serious about your idea, you'll want to stop using them.

    With that said, there is likely no software that will accomplish what you want to accomplish. It's a very difficult task, even if we just consider desktops. If you want a clickable school map with photos, that would take a lot of programming work, primarily from the standpoint of "who defines what the clickable areas are of the map and how?" It's doable, but you're going to run into a narrow field of developers that can even do and attempt that type of a task...and it will cost you. A lot. As in you're probably looking at 5 digits just for that feature alone. Where in that 5-digit range would depend on the developer(s) you hire, how much detail you want to get into, and his/her/their skill, but it's not going to be "easy and inexpensive". I've done image maps before, but not anything involving letting users define the map. I know how I WOULD do it, but I haven't yet. Again, that's just considering desktops. Not cell phones or tablets. Just desktops.

    As I said, find a business adviser. Speak to that adviser. That is your best answer.
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    Where to begin.... Please note that I have a college degreee and have taken my own internet business from 0-$100K/year in just four years so I'm not some lottery-playing dreamer. This is a very specific demographic with a lot of disposable income, and one I happen to know a lot about. When I run this idea by them their mouths drop open and they say, "We NEED this! I can't believe no one's done this before!" It's something I've wished existed myself for 8 years now. It will take time to reach critical mass but I've survived mercury poisoning, traveled solo into the Sinai Desert and made a name for myself as the only person nurses at a certain clinic have ever seen crack jokes while passing a kidney stone so I'm quite sure I have what I takes. (I'm also a "sensitive" and everything I've felt strongly like this has come to pass. Everything.

    The first web-designer I offered this to, a friend of 3 years, responded immediately with "I am so honored that you would offer me a take in this. Yes, yes and YES! I have been looking for a project like this for years. I agree it's a solid market and a really great idea -- a gazillion THANK YOU's!" He turned out not to have the maturity level (or character) required for the job so we have parted ways.

    Every person who has succeeded at something like this believed as much as I do that they could make it work, so...you pointing out to me, of the gate, that many who believe this don't succeed tells me that you are one of the people who has not. What I am doing here is a part of the learning process, something I did with my other business and which every person stepping into new territory must do -- look to others who have more knowledge about a subject to serve as guides.

    Cheaper and easier *are* better than harder and more expensive, as long as you don't compromise on the quality. That I would do that is an assumption on your part -- not mine.

    I also did not say the map had to be clickable. I know that would take a great deal of time. I said a map and clickable links to photos. That? No so much. That, if it was html, I could do myself.

    I understand factors that draw advertisers I just didn't know if I set the price or others made offers. I just can't visualize what that process looks like. And it seemed like there might be some software that was geared more toward ad income than others.

    Why not celebrate the fact that I'm willing to take something like this on? Why not entertain the thought that perhaps I'm actually a bright woman with an interesting life who has insight into something that not many do, who actually has a great idea that you would actually be lucky to be in on? How does it serve you to jump to all these conclusions about me and project all that you have onto what I've said?

    I will be back here to share the domain name once it takes off.

    If anyone here *can* give me the benefit of the doubt, who can respectfully suggest what I should do first, whether there is some software that can lay the foundation for this before I have someone else come in and customize it....What I am wondering is what you would do if you were in my place. What you would do, not what you think I should do based on a person filter that has decided I'm some starry-eyed little thing who thinks she can slap together a multi-million dollar site and be sitting on the beach in Boca by the new year.

    There is a reason I do nearly everything myself. Everytime I stick my neck out and ask for input I have filter through everyone else's projections, find myself on the receiving end of all the unhappy people out in cyberspace who are looking for an angry fix.

    Again, I would very much appreciate your input. If it were you, and you were bright, and you were willing to work hard and learn, how would you get this thing built?

    Thanks very much....

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    @cannesdo ... I'm going to only speak for myself ...

    Discussing things via a forum like this is really hard. There's no way to express emotion, whether it's questioning something because I'm not sure, or questioning something because I sort of understand, but am not experienced enough to know what to ask. Situations like this, where the project needs to be somewhat cryptic for proprietary reasons, should be done person-to-person, in real-life. Misunderstandings and not knowing each other causes threads to derail and get off-topic. So I'm going to say we reset this thread and start over, knowing more information about you, and you knowing that I didn't really understand it to begin with. I personally would be meeting or partnering with someone in person. The advertising part is too hard to answer because your idea might be so good that it doesn't need much work to get profitable ads.

    I would probably just plow ahead and create something, as much as I could do on my own. That would give me a way to show someone where I'm headed, after they signed some sort of non-disclosure agreement. A simulated website/web pages with my idea planned-out and how it might appear would be a great way to entice a partner to join my expedition.

    So, I can only say that I'm not sure how to discuss your project, or offer advice without asking "possibly condescending" questions. Not my intention, but my typing cannot convey the smile on my face, or my humility. People need to meet face-to-face.


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    You shouldn't be offended by The Game. Consider our situation, we get hundreds of people come on here and create posts fairly similar to this one. Most of which do not have the same education and experience as you do. Like Game said, you introduced this assumptions when using certain phrases like the cheap and easy one. When saying things like this rather than declaring a budget range its hard to see you are in fact knowledgable of business.

    What you should do first? Decide what your budget is and then hire someone with more experience in programming and development than you. The things you are looking for are not easy although some sites may make you believe they are. This was another issue Game brought up. Its not going to be easy to accomplish on your own. You will need someone that has a good amount of programming experience. You could technically do this on your own but if you consider the time taken to learn these skills you would benefit more from paying someone who already has the skills.


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    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    Where to begin.... Please note that I have a college degreee and have taken my own internet business from 0-$100K/year in just four years so I'm not some lottery-playing dreamer. This is a very specific demographic with a lot of disposable income, and one I happen to know a lot about. When I run this idea by them their mouths drop open and they say, "We NEED this! I can't believe no one's done this before!" It's something I've wished existed myself for 8 years now. It will take time to reach critical mass but I've survived mercury poisoning, traveled solo into the Sinai Desert and made a name for myself as the only person nurses at a certain clinic have ever seen crack jokes while passing a kidney stone so I'm quite sure I have what I takes. (I'm also a "sensitive" and everything I've felt strongly like this has come to pass. Everything.
    I'll be blunt here...I don't believe you. I don't believe any of these claims because quite frankly, there's no reason to. You claim you've run "a 100K internet business" yet you don't know what you should do or use to run the Internet business you're very vaguely proposing. I don't believe the rest of it simply because it's irrelevant and only brought up to try and impress someone. I've seen more emotional rhetoric claims like this than I can count, and not one of them has been true. You're full of Warrior Forum crap.
    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    The first web-designer I offered this to, a friend of 3 years, responded immediately with "I am so honored that you would offer me a take in this. Yes, yes and YES! I have been looking for a project like this for years. I agree it's a solid market and a really great idea -- a gazillion THANK YOU's!" He turned out not to have the maturity level (or character) required for the job so we have parted ways.
    Another reason I don't believe you...people who run successful businesses don't hire friends to do jobs just because it's a "great idea and solid market". People who run successful businesses know to avoid that pitfall.
    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post

    Every person who has succeeded at something like this believed as much as I do that they could make it work, so...you pointing out to me, of the gate, that many who believe this don't succeed tells me that you are one of the people who has not. What I am doing here is a part of the learning process, something I did with my other business and which every person stepping into new territory must do -- look to others who have more knowledge about a subject to serve as guides.
    I'm a mere mortal and you're special. Right. Got it. You're better than me and because you have a vague idea and are too thin-skinned to understand why people would have legitimate doubts pertaining to its validity. Your idea is greater than my experience. As long as we know we're not dealing on a logical playing field, we can continue.

    If you had listened to what I had said in the first place, you'd realize that I told you exactly that. I told you to go find a business adviser. This is your best approach.
    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    Cheaper and easier *are* better than harder and more expensive, as long as you don't compromise on the quality. That I would do that is an assumption on your part -- not mine.
    So you can't read. If you had, you'd realize that I said that. You'd also realize that in an area like web development, you get what you pay for. Again, something you'd think someone who runs a "100K Internet Business" would know.
    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    I also did not say the map had to be clickable. I know that would take a great deal of time. I said a map and clickable links to photos. That? No so much. That, if it was html, I could do myself.
    Then you don't know how to explain yourself clearly. Perhaps if you had a business plan from a business adviser, those sorts of things can take care of themselves.
    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    I understand factors that draw advertisers I just didn't know if I set the price or others made offers. I just can't visualize what that process looks like. And it seemed like there might be some software that was geared more toward ad income than others.
    Based on what? I could tell you the one thing that might work in your situation, but now I'm unwilling to share that information because you're too busy being great to listen to others.
    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    Why not celebrate the fact that I'm willing to take something like this on? Why not entertain the thought that perhaps I'm actually a bright woman with an interesting life who has insight into something that not many do, who actually has a great idea that you would actually be lucky to be in on? How does it serve you to jump to all these conclusions about me and project all that you have onto what I've said?
    Because you're not one in a million...you're one of a million. It's really easy to make claims about how interesting and great you are when no one knows.

    I've also worked with a few people who pretty much sound the same as you. Three things hold true:

    1) Complete lack of logic or business sense.
    2) Massive ego complete with the mental gymnastics required to ignore any legitimate criticism and win any argument.
    3) The projects all failed, not because of anything technical, but because the ego-driven people in charge sunk the projects with a complete lack of logic or business sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    If anyone here *can* give me the benefit of the doubt, who can respectfully suggest what I should do first, whether there is some software that can lay the foundation for this before I have someone else come in and customize it....What I am wondering is what you would do if you were in my place. What you would do, not what you think I should do based on a person filter that has decided I'm some starry-eyed little thing who thinks she can slap together a multi-million dollar site and be sitting on the beach in Boca by the new year.

    There is a reason I do nearly everything myself. Everytime I stick my neck out and ask for input I have filter through everyone else's projections, find myself on the receiving end of all the unhappy people out in cyberspace who are looking for an angry fix.
    Or it could be that you asked a vague question and used language that countless others have used before.

    Don't believe me? Here's a comic that outlines what you just said, but in the form of an email (5th one down). Compare what you just said to the comic. See the similarities? Most of us do. It has nothing to do with an "angry fix". It has everything to do with "you have a poorly-constructed idea and are using language that set off alarm bells in the head of any sane, experienced developer."

    Maybe that's the reason you don't receive the help you want on forums. Maybe it's not "everyone else". Just sayin'.

    Quote Originally Posted by cannesdo View Post
    Again, I would very much appreciate your input. If it were you, and you were bright, and you were willing to work hard and learn, how would you get this thing built?
    So if we were bright, huh? Now, since we're apparently the kind of idiots that like to see how lampposts taste in January when it's -30 degrees out, it's going to be tough for me to answer this question, but I'll try anyway.

    Not knowing what your idea is or how sound it is, I'd build it from scratch. I'd set up a database to house all of the information. How I would structure the database would depend on exactly what fields of information would be required and potentially used (which are two separate things), but I'd spend a few hours doing that. Then I might draw from one or more of several proprietary code bases that I have to retrieve and display that data based on layouts that may or may not have been supplied by a designer, since that's usually but not always a separate person. I might also optimize the code for speed of data retrieval and display.

    Again, though, I'm speculating. I'm not sure what a bright person would do. Hopefully someone will come along that can help you.
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    I am so used to this kind of response, partly because I'm not like anyone most people have ever met and partly because there are so many tribal-minded hostile souls out there in the world who can't think outside the box. Like a quote I read recently....Something about how a person's perceptions about the world tell you eveything you need to know about their own character.

    I nearly died from mercury poisoning at 30. I lost the first 20 years of my adult life to that and in many ways I'm starting again as a 21 year old. I am still feeling my way through. Fortunately, I had the smarts to start selling on Ebay, and later Etsy, right after the worst of it (it allowed me to set me own hours) using the contacts I had from an overseas trip to celebrate having survived it all and four years ago I started fresh as a supplier to other eBay and Etsy sellers and yes, this year, the projections are to top $100K. ($85K last year). I live in an unusual way now, and I'm not sharing that because it has something to do with this new idea, and I'm told daily by people that they have never met anyone like me doing what I'm doing. But I have been outside the box all my life so no, I don't follow the path most do and I have massive blind spots in terms of experience. But on the flip side I have insight into things otther people don't. I marvel at people who seem to *so* get off on calling "********"....I have a friend who does web design for a living. I know nothing about it. He's level and solid and I thought he would make a great partner so I invited him in on the deal. I wouldn't have to pay him up front, he'd get a piece of the profits, we'd draw up a contract...It would be hard but I trusted him and I was going to make damn sure I was protected.

    It's astounding to me the amount of chaos that ensues every time I reach out for input on a forum. Wouldn't it be easier to just ask me some follow-up questions, then to put all that energy into the negativity and hostility? Just offer what you can and move on? If you're suspicious...move on. This need to pick a fight and jump to the worst possible conclusions about people...wth?! I'm not expecting every question to be answered here, Folks. I simply don't want to start creating a site only to find out later that I should have used different software that would allow me functions the one I chose doesn't have. And I don't know enough about some of the functions to know if I need them, so I described it to you -- on the off chance that maybe someone knew of software that could do just that! That's it! Jesus...

    Honestly I feel even better about myself that you think a person couldn't take a business from zero to $100K in 4 years. I have no idea what normal is but I've been feeling damn impressed with myself because, due to other struggles in my life I don't have much else to be proud of. That an English major could jump in and make something like that happens tells me I'm doing something right. Screenshot from my 2014 PayPal tax statement. This doesn't include my Etsy direct checkout income or the income from my website.

    paypal.JPG

    And... I was asking you put yourself in my shoes, giving you the skill-set I have available to me. One of them happens to be that I am fairly bright. If you're going to turn that into some kind of passive-aggressive jab well then, see the bit about perception and person filters above.

    Needless to say, this forum is not for me. I've got enough to deal with without fielding all of this hostility every time I log in. I've learned it's important to surround myself with people who are in a positive and open place....so I won't be checking back. Thank you though to those who made an effort.

    Is the world really not ugly enough? Sociopaths have a strange-hold on humanity. People are lopping off heads and judging and blaming and billions have fewer possessions that you or I can get in out glove compartments. Mothers are watching their children starve. Everyone is fighting a battle you cannot see. We all have a choice to be respectful and kind or to further stress and assault one another ...to choose love or fear. Part of why I have been successful is that I have chosen kindness. I a refuge for my buyers, someone who cares about them who they know they can trust. I take losses where I don't have to, I do whatever I can to make their lives less stressful.

    This is a dark space. I am leaving it.


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