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Developing Membership Websites – First Steps for Novice Programmers

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What is a Membership Website

A membership website has restricted areas that require a login and password for access. It’s not necessarily a fee-based or subscription website. Club web sites that allow members to log in and view announcements and events are membership sites. Small businesses that give clients restricted access to newsletters and customer support forums are also membership websites.

Can Novice Developers code a Membership Site?

The creation of membership websites used to be lengthy and complex projects, requiring weeks of programming by seasoned developers. Not any more! Do you meet these basic criteria?

* Have you put together some web pages with HTML?

* Have you used a little Javascript (or any other programming language), even if only by copying scripts from online articles?

* Would you like to try your hand at developing a full-blown membership website?

If you have the enthusiasm and a bit of technical acumen, then read on.

Microsoft has released a set of tools that put membership websites well within the capabilities of a novice developer learning the ropes. And the best part is that these tools meet any budget – they are free to download.

What do you need get started?

Here is a five-step process to get you on your way!

1. Download and install a copy of Visual Web Developer Express from the Microsoft website.

2. Find a tutorial on using the membership features that come with ASP.Net 2.0 – there are lots on the web, including ASP.Net membership tutorials on our own website. If you like books, there are quite a few on Visual Web Developer Express.

3. Spend an evening creating a website on your laptop or PC using Visual Web Developer Express. Use the drag-and-drop GUI and wizards to create registration and login web pages.

4. Use the tools that comes with VWD Express to set up logins and manage user security on your development website.

5. Use the tools to lock down security access to your members!

Finding a Hosting Provider

Once you have developed your membership web pages and got used to the database, you’ll want to go live. You need to choose a hosting provider that supports ASP.Net 2.0 and the SQL Server database.

If you are on a budget, Go Daddy is one of the most cost-effective choices around – compare their windows shared hosting plan to any other provider and you will find it hard to beat.

Going Live

Developing the membership website has been eased greatly by the Microsoft tools, but you still need to get it to work on your live hosted site. There are several sources of confusion when going live.

The database is usually the biggest obstacle. The Microsoft tools do a great job of hiding the complexities of the database from you on your home PC. But on your host site, you will have to do a lot of the database work yourself.

Oh, and did we mention that you’ll be using a different database on the live site? You will probably use the free SQL Express database on your PC, but your live site will have its big brother, Microsoft SQL Server.

Expect to invest a bit of time and effort on deploying the site, but you will learn a lot in the process.

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Source by Margaret Cruise O’Brien