|Members Itching to Join / Can't get the site up!|
Can you help stop my descent into insanity?
I really hope some of you guys can help. It's tough being a non-techie. :( I have a market that is absolutely dying for a social networking site to be built around it, and I have several associations waiting to promote it to their members. I won't bore you with the details, but I've already spent $9,600.00, and 8 months, and still don't have the site open for people to join yet. It was started as asp.net site with a programmer from RAC. Suffice it to say that he wrote substandard/sloppy/uncommented code, and my new programmer is struggling with it, now, while I pay him to struggle. I'm going to stick it out with this new programmer, but I have some questions. I apologize for the length of this, but any help that you guys can give will greatly benefit my family, as we try to stay afloat until some money comes back in from this expenditure.
The premise for my questions: For another social networking site that I have researched the market for, I would like to start it in such a way that it's not so dependent on a particular programmer's coding, and also one that we can get up and running QUICKLY. I've looked at Ning, but you can't take your subscriber base with you. I'm considering Kickapps now.
1. This site will become very big, very fast (I know how hard it is to build memberships, but I do have this ball rolling already, and again, associations waiting to set up their groups on the site, and bring their members with them.) Can you put a site built with Kickapps or similar solutions on a dedicated server, instead of using shared hosting? (I wouldn't be having kickapps integrating with an existing site -- I would be starting a brand new site.)
2. I'll need to add many other features than just the standard profile/groups/photos. I'll need to add in instant messaging, private chat, an uploads/downloads center, a shopping cart, etc. Can these things be added into sites built with social networking scripts (I guess you call them scripts) like kickapps?
3. From reading 1 and 2 above, do you have any suggestions for a script/platform/whatever you call it/ aside from Ning or kickapps that might be most appropriate for my needs?
Thank you so much for any help, as these seemingly simple issues are really holding me back from my dream right now!
3. A managed LAMP environment and some well written php / mySQL would be a very good approach for this project. I wouldnít use any open source applications for this; the total cost will be much more and you wont sleep well at night.
To get up and running quickly just get 3 very experienced php programmers working on a tier each full time for a month will do it.
First, thank you for the reply, aspdaddy. I truly appreciate it. Second, I was afraid this would happen -- what in the world is a LAMP environment? I don't expect an entire education here on the forum, but I need to understand what kind of programmer to look for, so I'll need to understand a bit about terms like that. Or can you point me to somewhere to read about it, hopefully in layman's terms? (And what does "working on a tier" mean?) Thanks so much for your time and help!
LAMP = Linux Apache MySQL PHP
Thanks, Ahkamden. And what is a "tier" mean, as in aspdaddy's answer? Also, why would open source end up costing more? Is that because it would cost a lot to have someone program in extras such as an upload/download center, private chat, instant messanging, shopping cart, etc, than it would to have someone put that into a LAMP environment?
To get the best design for future maintenance you need min 3 tiers of development - database access code, user interface code and middle code where all the business rules and calculations are. Each tier then talks to the tier above or below to implement the whole solution.
This approach typically costs more because it is quality object oriented design and a higher skill set, and requires interface specifications for each programmer.
But if you have the three programmers working together at the same time on a tier each, itís much more productive as the interface specs arenít as critical and you get good problem solving in the team.
Open source would cost more because of the security and access to good designers and coders that know the applications limits.
Good luck, make sure you budget for a vulnerability assessment prior to release.
Thanks again, aspdaddy! I'm writing all of this down. Now the inevitable question -- how exactly do I get a vulnerability assessment? (don't you just hate lay people on webmaster forums?) I'm assuming that means check for vulnerability to spammers, and hackers, and losing data, etc. Exactly how do I get one of these assessments? Where do I go and what do I ask for?
Have your ISP (hosting company) take care of locking down your server for the vulnerability assessment.
Have your programmer(s) lock down your code from the application perspective.
If your venture is going to be as big as you say it is, you may need to hire a webmaster to take care of all of this for you. It is not something you will be able to pickup overnight. And if your community is not managed properly, it can all come crashing down after all your hard pre-work of building it up.
Have you considered how you are going to manage spam, abuse, moderation, etc? Those alone can take up 1 full time person on a high traffic social site.