Want to build a web site for a business. Where to start?

Hello, I need to work on getting a website up and running, hopefully something I can build with a builder tool (I am not a web developer) and get it running and then start to look for help from developers to really refine and customize it later down the road but if I wanted to get a site going that is on the line of AngiesList.com and CraigsList.com but totally different topics.

Basically I need to put together a site that I can add enough plugins to get where I need to get it started and live.

To start with I need a way people can go to the site and list an item or go to the site to view the item so I would need a way to setup two different accounts, one for buyers and one for sellers. Preferably a plug in that will allow me to charge a monthly or 6 month, yearly fee.

I would need a way that the seller can setup a listing and add a pic, use links in the listing to communicate with the seller.

The thing is though the buyers would NOT use the site to purchase the item, it is such an item that they would have to meet in person and setup their own transaction. So I would not be able to charge based on the sale of the item, only through a membership fee or advertisements on the site.

Mainly what I am trying to figure out in this question is what path or paths to go down first. I would hate to realize I am using a tool or hosting company that just can’t do what I need and I have to worry about migrating to another tool or service or starting from scratch.

Main things needed:
1.      Site where a user or buyer can setup an account (two or more account types with different abilities and features, like buyers can’t post a listing)

2.      Ability to charge differently for user or buyer accounts (Buyer pays .99 cents, seller pays $5)

3.      Ability to add pictures to listing (videos would be nice too but trying to avoid need for large amount of storage until it grows more)

4.      Ability for buyers to communicate through the listing to the seller (so email does not have to be exchanged at first)

5.      Ability to publish links and documents specific to each account type (buyers can see area with A docs and sellers see area with B docs)

6.      Ability for the buyers to fill out a questionnaire that the seller can customize (Like do you have a drivers license, do you have auto insurance etc.)
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Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
If you want a simple way to get a static site up and running, I suggest wix.com, weebly.com or squarespace.com.  These are all inclusive hosting/builder sites.  They are great for small static sites when the site owner is not a developer. However, you are asking for the ability to allow people to update on their own.

The next step is something like wordpress/joomla/drupal.  These can be hosted through just about any* hosting service.  They take a bit more technical know how and the trade off is more flexibility as long as you can work with one of the many plug ins for things like uploading files or user management.  But you need to work inside of the constraints of what is out there.

After reading your requirements, I think you will want to go with either a complete custom site or customized wordpress site to get what you want.  A lot of what you have sounds easy enough to write out, but doing it right takes some know how and you are best to hire a developer to at least guide you for a customized option.  If you can find a way to make this work by living within an available plug in and adjust your business formula to make it work.  Start by doing  your research, search for "wordpress classified plugin".  Go through the demo's.  Have your friends go through the demo's.  Have your friend's friend go through the demos and make sure they are easy to manage.


> These can be hosted through just about any*
If your expected userbase is going to be small and by small just about any hosting service will work.  If you are planning for big growth, you will want to use a cloud service like amazon that can start out small and easily grow. This subject can be more complex and again I suggest working with a developer that also has a good business mind for guidance.  One one end you have $3.99 hosting and the other $3 billion dollar hosting .

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REIUSAAuthor Commented:
Great, thanks for the info. If I were to start with something like Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal would I easily (relatively speaking) be able to transition into a bigger and better site with a developers help? Or would the developer build of the current Wordpress, Joomla, or Drupal site?

I hope to have at least 10,000 regular users within a year and about 250,000 in 5 years. The general market I am looking at is in the 60,000,000 range.
Prasadh BaapaatWeb Designer & DeveloperCommented:
If you choose Joomla there is a great Free / commercial page builder which is very easy to use...

you can build fantastic looking pages using the builder... the free builder is also quiet powerful.

take a look at SP Page Builder here >>

I have been designing sites in Joomla since many years and would suggest you can go for it...
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Prasadh BaapaatWeb Designer & DeveloperCommented:
As per your list of requirements, it will be difficult for you INDIVIDUALLY to do it all as a Newbie or someone who has just started doing sites in either Joomla, Wordpress or Drupal...

there are many free / commercial extensions for all points which you want in site. But I will suggest that if you plan your site to become a large site with many visitors, having a developer on board from start is advised.

he can plan the site construction properly where it will be easy to shift to bigger user bases in a planned manner OR add more functionality in stages.
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
Not to be cynical, but very many people start out with unrealistic goals or at least goals that could be realistic but not realistic in terms of how much effort they are willing to put in.

If you are truly going to have a goal of 10,000 users in year 1 and have the marketing plan to back it up, then best to plan for what you want to do.  If your widget only had a profit of $10, that's $100K of profit.  With that kind of projection, you can spend $15K or $20K to create something customized as you describe and the payout would be huge..

From reading your specs, it will be hard to find a read made something that will do exactly what you want without some type of customization.

If you are planning on bootstraping with no money to spend on development, I would instead look at some ready made options for classified sites such as https://yclas.com/ or https://osclass.org/ and work within what is already there. ( There are going to  be many others ).  The upside is you get going fast.  The downside is you seem to have an idea and it is your idea that will differentiate you from the many others.  The ready made sites will be like everybody else.  However, if you throw a lot of money into advertising, you can beat out all the others that try and get in on the cheap and do not have a budget.

There are a lot of choices here.  I would spend the next few weeks working the demos on all of these choices.  

Some additional options although the below are geared more for you selling via your own store and not classifieds.
https://woocommerce.com/ is a wordpress add on that claims over a million installs.

https://www.shopify.com/ is an all in one site to build your own shopping cart.
Prasadh BaapaatWeb Designer & DeveloperCommented:
I agree with Scott...
REIUSAAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the feedback guys.

What my plan is is to get up kind of a beta site up that I can do, free for people to use, simple setup maybe just a log in account and run it in my local city and see how people respond to it tweak ideas and methods to use on the site and then find a developer that can really build it out, I just want to start with the right foundation.

10k may be ambitious but I am planning on putting all money other than OpEx that comes in back into marketing and developing the site maybe even the first 5 years or more before thinking about taking any profit, I don't have any problem pumping $100,000 and well beyond back into the site if it works out. The marketing is a beast all in itself but I have some ways lined up that can target only people that would be interested in the product, then its a matter of who will actually use it.

Like mentioned above the key is not being like other sites and have something special to offer that does it better and is more useful for the users.

Based on the discussion so far if I started with the basic site with something like Joomla or Wordpress could that be then be expanded on or easily migrated to another system that would allow a developer to really build it out long term?
Scott Fell, EE MVEDeveloper & EE ModeratorCommented:
> Based on the discussion so far if I started with the basic site with something like Joomla or Wordpress could that be then be expanded on or easily migrated to another system that would allow a developer to really build it out long term?

With the links I gave you for wpadverts https://wordpress.org/plugins/wpadverts/ and AWCP https://wordpress.org/plugins/another-wordpress-classifieds-plugin/ you can create a classified site with WP.  So to answer your question, yes.

Fire up a WP site, add each of those themes and I would do this simultaneously with different installs so you can play with them side by side.  Make double sure they do what you want to meet your initial needs.  Also check your initial needs that it will be enough to make a good first impression because you only get one of those.

Anybody that I have seen successful has gone all in.  The things you may need to hold back just to get it done, may be the things that prevent you from success.  And it is also those few seemingly small things that will take the most work to complete.
REIUSAAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the tips and advice. This will get me pointed in the right direction.
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