Bidding on a web development job

I'm meeting a possible client and i'm way over my head with this job. I've developed websites but never selling anything.

He wants to sell something - 150 somethings actually. What database would i use so each record includes an image plus product description?

Say i put 6-8 pictures on each page and you click on one pic to see it enlarged, get details, order it, etcetera. When you click does it generate a page on the fly? Can i do that in perl?

Then how do i get a shopping cart? Should i send him to a web host who offers an integrated shopping cart?

Then, say it's a 10-12 page site with the database and shopping cart. How much time would it take an experienced person to put this together?


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A lot of this probably depends on where the site is being hosted.  Different ISPs support and offer different capabilities.

Your database seems to be relatively small, so even something as simple as MSAccess should be able to do the trick.

One thing I would suggest, no matter what DB you use.  Don't store the image files in the database.  Store them on the server, and let the database map links to them.

This type of application could be done in Perl or Active Server Pages (if the host is an NT/IIS shop).  In either case, I am pretty sure you can find "canned" shopping cart apps, independent of the ISP, but going with a host that offers the service is probably the easiest solution.

Having never done this, I can't really estimate how long it would take to build, but I don't imagine it would be very long (couple of weeks to get everything in place?).

Good luck,

How much time is needed?
2 to 12 man-days, I'ld say. A raw HTML, and programming structure will cost 2 days. But then, there are the meetings with the client, design issues, image processing, more features than the bare bones, care of the search engines, and so on.
Then, think of how the data is updated, do you update the database manually, or does your client update often, and needs an extranet?
Then, think about how orders are processed. Do you need a secure, encoded connection (SSL)?

Generate pages on the fly? - Yes, that's the way. You can do it with Perl, or other scripting languages, as ASP.

About the site structure. - Category list, search articles, list (catalog) page - move prev page - move next page, detail page, shopping cart, checkout page with address form, thank you page; this is the normal structure for an ecommerce app.
Plus welcome page, about us page, news page, and the "hammer pages".

Which database? - For 150 articles, every db is suitable. In an UNIX environment, you will chose mySQL, in a Windows NT environment Access.
(Probably, you would not store the pictures in the database, but only their URL's, but that's another scope.)

Web host with integrated shopping cart? - No ;-) They're all dumb. You cannot influence the design in detail, and if your client wants a speciality, you're down.

- Recommendation: Have a look at other shopping sites, and, first, make a site map, which lists all pages hierarchially. Then, make a basic layout. If you developed sites before, you know what time you need for making the buttons, and images, and the HTML. Sum up your time, and at least US$ 600 (if you are assuming to find someone doing it in his free time) for the programming. Also think of the web hosting costs (about US$ 40 per month on WinNT, cheaper on Unix).
Then go to your client, presenting him the site map, the design, and the costs.
- Don't care about the programming so far! You have to convince your client by design, and site design, not by the programming background!
If he agrees, create all files in static HTML, and then find a programmer to structure the database and makes dynamic HTML from your templates.

- Do you have a list of references, so that I can evaluate the dimensions? You may email me at

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garfldAuthor Commented:
TTom's answer was good but robbert's answer was more complete and specific.


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