Building a dating website

Ok I know the internet is swamped with these but I have an idea for one I would like to try, at worst I am going to get some pretty good experience on site design (I just finished reading many of Sitepoints books on PHP, CSS // HTML etc etc) - I don’t have much experience but want to give it a shot

What I want to know is what is the best (most unique and best experience for me and anyone who might sign up, assuming I do a good job of it!) way to design this?

Does 99% of the sites out there use templates // plugins // pre-built scripts like “elgg” etc or can you pull this off with 100% custom code?

Any recommendations would be much appreciated

Thanks all

Thanks guys - sorry for late reply

I’m re-evaluating my goals around my first website and will take it from there, I think what you say makes a lot of sense!

The main thing I would like to try and do is make some money from my site, but try to choose something that I enjoy so I can happily spend lots of time on it

Like Force Flow before me already mentioned, a lot depends on how your skills are. Your question

Does 99% of the sites out there use templates // plugins // pre-built scripts like “elgg” etc or can you pull this off with 100% custom code?
is not an easy one to answer. I think it is maybe 50/50.

These days you have a lot of ready made plugins. And I thing when something is good, easy to implement and fits the feel and layout of the site I’m working on as well, then why not use it. On the other hand I’m not completely mad about those pre build scripts. I.M.O. do you need even more PHP or any other server site scriping experience, after all you have to work on a script made by someone else.

Keep in mind what you would like, ask for a lot of time to build and after that (if everything is okay) a lot of time to maintain.

Some sites are built off of a core like elgg or buddypress, some aren’t. It depends on what you intend to accomplish, how much effort you want to put in, and what skills you have on hand.

So, the first thing you may want to do is figure out what exactly you want your site to do. Then, see if there’s anything close or anything close that you can customize.