Where to start on making a used car dealership website?

I have a client who is not tech savy. This client wants me to make a web page for selling used cars. They were once hosted by the company which created their car inventory software but they were not satisfied with the web page given to them particularly the costs to pay for their service <snip>. However, I’m not that experienced with SQL and PHP which I think would be necessary to create a database to store information about the cars (ex. Vehicle Identification Number, Name, Make, etc.). I’m thinking of using a CMS and getting a template which can be easily modified so I’m looking at Joomla and Wordpress (I want something that is compatitible with Dreamhost). Is this a good approach or should I think things through more?


Using a CMS is definitely the way to go. If the client is willing to shell out a few $$$, check out ExpressionEngine, too. You have full and easy control over the templates, which makes it a dream to use.

Thanks for the advice. What advantages does ExpressionEngine have over Wordpress or Joomla? The latter two seem to have more users so I figured they would have more support and plugins. I do like that Expression Engine doesn’t require previous knowledge of PHP to use it, but I’ll have to look at the cost and discuss it with my client. If you have any previous experience with those three, could you explain how your experiences with each were like? I have been reluctant to use CMS in the past because I’ve heard about how they can put out bloated code and being that I’m trying to also improve my web design skills and learn some development on the side I do not want to pick up any bad practices.

EE is much more flexible that WP or Joomla. You have so many more options about where content goes and how it’s configured, yet it’s easier to use, too (at least in my opinion). EE also doesn’t create any code itself, meaning that you are in total control of the code output, which for me is a huge advantage. EE also has a huge number of quality add-ons and a very active and supportive community.

When clients question the cost over free options, I remind them that the time I save in setting up EE can easily outweigh the savings in using free code.

My client would prefer not to spend too much money on the website. I tried explaning to them the advantages of Expression Engine but they were not sure. I have heard of ModX and ProccessWire. They seem to be similar to Expression Engine. Would they be good substitutes, or should I try to push them torwards EE?

All I can suggest is to give it a go, as I’m not sure how to do this with other CMSes. But I’d be wary of a client who wants this functionality but doesn’t want to spend a bit on it. It’s like someone who wants a car with all the bells and whistles but wants to pay almost nothing. It’s going to take you time to learn how to do all this with any CMS, and it sounds like you are not going to get paid much for your time. I’d be inclined to let the client go, personally.

Ideally I would do that however my portfolio is rather bare and I would like the experience. Also, the client is related to me.

Any way you slice it it is going to be a lot of work to replicate the same functionality of those sites which you have shown with any generic CMS. Working on a very limited budget it would be best to use a CMS specific to the business goals at hand. That is if one exist specifically for vehicle listings. Otherwise, you have a lot of work ahead of you working at slave rates from what it sounds like.

Famous last words.

Off Topic:

I try to avoid doing any work for family or friends. It always seems to end poorly.