Current state of web development - where do I start?

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#1 Hashim1   User is offline

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Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 05 May 2019 - 05:28 PM

Hey there,

I learnt HTML, CSS and JS a few years ago with the intention of going freelance as a developer, and although I'm not there yet I still try and keep up to date with the industry via newsletters and the like, and the passion is still very much there.

I was recently approached by a local non-profit charity to create a website for them for free. The site needs to be developed before an upcoming event, which is in under a month, which means that learning whole new languages is out. The content will be largely basic, the most complicated it will get is probably hosting some videos and taking payment for donations, but most importantly I want it to look good.

I don't feel like I'm technically incapable of the task since I do a lot of both design work and command-line tinkering in my day-to-day - my problem is that with the current state of web dev being as breakneck and fragmented as it is, I'm simply overwhelmed as to where to start.

I know they need a CMS, but I don't know which one would give me the most amount of freedom whilst *only* requiring HTML, CSS and Javascript - does such a platform exist? Do I need a front-end framework? And I've never actually taken a website live before, so where do I even start with the back-end? Are there any other considerations I may need to take into mind?

I'd really appreciate being brought up to speed here and pointed in the right direction. Thanks!

This post has been edited by Hashim1: 05 May 2019 - 05:35 PM


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#2 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 05 May 2019 - 05:35 PM

Wordpress....

Then modify a theme to make it theirs.
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#3 Hashim1   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 05 May 2019 - 05:42 PM

View Postastonecipher, on 05 May 2019 - 05:35 PM, said:

Wordpress....

Then modify a theme to make it theirs.


Wouldn't that require learning PHP?

This post has been edited by Hashim1: 05 May 2019 - 05:53 PM

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#4 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 05 May 2019 - 05:55 PM

The theme is predominantly html, and you have a month to look things up (and you know somewhere to ask questions when you get stuck).


But, wordpress is already accepted as a commercial CMS. There is tons of support for it as well as plugins to make it do more. And to set one up requires next to no knowledge other than creating a database and adding the credentials to the config, it does everything else!
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#5 Hashim1   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 05 May 2019 - 06:21 PM

View Postastonecipher, on 05 May 2019 - 05:55 PM, said:

The theme is predominantly html, and you have a month to look things up (and you know somewhere to ask questions when you get stuck).


But, wordpress is already accepted as a commercial CMS. There is tons of support for it as well as plugins to make it do more. And to set one up requires next to no knowledge other than creating a database and adding the credentials to the config, it does everything else!


I get the feeling that it won't be as simple as "looking things up" - more like actually learning PHP ad-hoc, and whilst I have no problem with learning on the job, I don't fancy my chances of learning a whole language in under a month in which I'm already pretty busy. It seems like a huge risk.

This post has been edited by Hashim1: 05 May 2019 - 06:21 PM

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#6 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 05 May 2019 - 06:27 PM

🤷‍♂️ The amount of php you need to know for a standard theme is none, but you do what you want. All you have to do is watch a tutorial on theme development and use a base theme as a template. If you feel you canít do that, then I would set their expectation that it may take longer or you canít do it. Wordpress or really any existing CMS software is designed for someone with no experience anyway. If you donít want to use one, you are going to have an even steeper learning curve to build one yourself.
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#7 andrewsw   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 05 May 2019 - 11:34 PM

Quote

I don't fancy my chances of learning a whole language in under a month in which I'm already pretty busy. It seems like a huge risk.

Does this suggest that the month is only part-time? In which case it is a big ask and WordPress is probably the way to go (if at all). Or, as mentioned, revise their expectations.
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#8 modi123_1   User is online

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 06 May 2019 - 09:08 AM

Yes.. CMS like wordpress is a good place to start. Themes are solid and can be changed, quite a bit, without having to go into the code.

Quote

taking payment for donations,
That's going to be interesting, but hey.. wordpress has plugins to install for that.

Quote

but I don't know which one would give me the most amount of freedom whilst *only* requiring HTML, CSS and Javascript - does such a platform exist?

CMS require a database, right? that means server side language, right? So php, asp.net, ruby, python, etc would need to be there.
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#9 Hashim1   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 06 May 2019 - 03:50 PM

View Postandrewsw, on 05 May 2019 - 11:34 PM, said:

Does this suggest that the month is only part-time?


It will be, because I have important exams to prepare for in the same time period.

View Postmodi123_1, on 06 May 2019 - 09:08 AM, said:

That's going to be interesting, but hey.. wordpress has plugins to install for that.


What do you mean when you say "interesting"?

Quote

CMS require a database, right? that means server side language, right? So php, asp.net, ruby, python, etc would need to be there.


What about something involving Node? Is that not an option here?

This post has been edited by Hashim1: 06 May 2019 - 03:51 PM

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#10 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 06 May 2019 - 03:56 PM

A CMS is a major undertaking to do correctly when you have experience and a short amount of time. you have no experience in backend languages, or database design; both of which are very important for a CMS.

Why are you asking for advice if you arenít going to follow it? Go ahead and go your own route, just be sure to inform the group that you wonít make the deadline before you start. I gave advice based on what you could actually do, rather easily and you want to fight it. Good luck.
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#11 ArtificialSoldier   User is online

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 06 May 2019 - 04:31 PM

*
POPULAR

Quote

What do you mean when you say "interesting"?

Taking payments online is an entire source of problems on its own. If you're handling payment card data - at all - then you need to become familiar with PCI compliance, quickly. This is why many sites go to a third party for payment processing. If you have no experience with back-end programming then I would strongly discourage you from handling payments yourself. You don't want to mess around with peoples' payment card details if you're not an actual programmer versed in PCI compliance.

Quote

What about something involving Node? Is that not an option here?

It looks like there are several CMSs available for Node, but don't assume that since you know Javascript syntax that you'll know how to do things in Node. The Javascript you've learned so far is handling events in the client, and that doesn't totally translate to server-side programming.

Wordpress is, by far, the most-used CMS platform out there. Regardless of whether you stick with Wordpress permanently, if you want to get a site online within a month with no server-side programming knowledge, and still be able to find all of the plugins you'll want to use for your specific functionality, Wordpress is by far your best option.
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#12 Martyr2   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 06 May 2019 - 04:59 PM

I will agree with ArtificialSoldier about using WordPress. You really don't need to know much coding at all to get it up and running. Any PHP you know will only help, but WordPress is pretty easy to get up and running without code. Even some hosting providers allow you to have one click installs of WordPress. From there you can shop around for a theme that will fit. Most themes even come with a GUI that allows you to customize colors and images. Again without even knowing any code.

The documentation for WordPress is also pretty easy to read and follow. Here is a nice little tutorial to show you how.

https://winningwp.co...ll-made-simple/

Another thing that is nice about WordPress is that you can hand it off to your client afterwards and they can manage it themselves. Again without having to really know how to code.

:)
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#13 Hashim1   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 06 May 2019 - 05:15 PM

View Postastonecipher, on 06 May 2019 - 03:56 PM, said:

A CMS is a major undertaking to do correctly when you have experience and a short amount of time. you have no experience in backend languages, or database design; both of which are very important for a CMS.

Why are you asking for advice if you aren’t going to follow it? Go ahead and go your own route, just be sure to inform the group that you won’t make the deadline before you start. I gave advice based on what you could actually do, rather easily and you want to fight it. Good luck.


I asked for advice that I also need to square with my personal situation. Maybe don't take it so personally when people don't fawn over your advice to the extent which you'd like. I appreciate you giving it and I'm taking it into consideration along with other advice I've received, but I'm sorry to say that I don't consider your opinion divine enough to prematurely end this discussion because you've now weighed in.

Besides that, you now also seem to be arguing that a CMS is impractical, when you started off by recommending Wordpress to me, so right now you don't seem the most lucid of people.

ArtificialSoldier said:

It looks like there are several CMSs available for Node, but don't assume that since you know Javascript syntax that you'll know how to do things in Node. The Javascript you've learned so far is handling events in the client, and that doesn't totally translate to server-side programming.

Wordpress is, by far, the most-used CMS platform out there. Regardless of whether you stick with Wordpress permanently, if you want to get a site online within a month with no server-side programming knowledge, and still be able to find all of the plugins you'll want to use for your specific functionality, Wordpress is by far your best option.


Thank you for answering this question.

ArtificialSoldier said:

Taking payments online is an entire source of problems on its own. If you're handling payment card data - at all - then you need to become familiar with PCI compliance, quickly. This is why many sites go to a third party for payment processing. If you have no experience with back-end programming then I would strongly discourage you from handling payments yourself. You don't want to mess around with peoples' payment card details if you're not an actual programmer versed in PCI compliance.


All of that makes a lot of sense, and as someone with some experience in infosec, I know how dangerous it can be to roll your own solution for stuff like this. Do you know of any free or cheap third-party solutions for this? Stripe is the most popular from what I know, but for a charity I'm wanting to minimise the cut taken as much as possible.

View PostMartyr2, on 06 May 2019 - 04:59 PM, said:

I will agree with ArtificialSoldier about using WordPress. You really don't need to know much coding at all to get it up and running. Any PHP you know will only help, but WordPress is pretty easy to get up and running without code. Even some hosting providers allow you to have one click installs of WordPress. From there you can shop around for a theme that will fit. Most themes even come with a GUI that allows you to customize colors and images. Again without even knowing any code.

The documentation for WordPress is also pretty easy to read and follow. Here is a nice little tutorial to show you how.

https://winningwp.co...ll-made-simple/

Another thing that is nice about WordPress is that you can hand it off to your client afterwards and they can manage it themselves. Again without having to really know how to code.

:)/>/>/>/>/>/>


Yeah, I think I've pretty much decided on Wordpress at this point. It seems like the best compromise I'm going to get between building from scratch and something like Squarespace, which I was also considering for how fast the turnaround time would be.

This post has been edited by Hashim1: 06 May 2019 - 05:20 PM

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#14 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 06 May 2019 - 05:19 PM

Quote

Besides that, you now also seem to be arguing that a CMS is impractical, when you started off by recommending Wordpress to me, so right now you don't seem the most lucid of people.


I never argued a CMS was impractical. What I did say was that you were not able to create one, from scratch, in a month.
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#15 astonecipher   User is offline

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Re: Current state of web development - where do I start?

Posted 07 May 2019 - 05:53 AM

View PostHashim1, on 06 May 2019 - 07:15 PM, said:

Do you know of any free or cheap third-party solutions for this? Stripe is the most popular from what I know, but for a charity I'm wanting to minimise the cut taken as much as possible.



https://doublethedon...for-nonprofits/

PayPal and Stripe are actually worthwhile and cost effective, depending on how much you want to cut out. And I know there are existing plugins for them currently. The others available, research would need completed to see if there is a plugin available.
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