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Rule #5: Use what's at hand, before investing in new tools

Many of us learn in large corporations that the first step to setting up a project is appropriations: Figure out what you need and get a PO authorized to go and purchase it. "Net-think" reverses the order of events so that appropriations is often the last step we take. First we work with what we have.

You know where you're going because you've defined your vision, set goals, and prioritized them. Now you need to see what you've already got that will do the job. A simplified version of your site, developed in tools you have at hand (authoring software or HTML edited with notepad), can be sufficient to get started. Or look for sites with free software and tools available. Many on the web believe that collaboration is the best use of the connectivity the web delivers, and offer freebies accordingly.

If you expect to end up with high-volume traffic and large databases, your long-term plan should reflect that. But databases can be designed to start small and build. And many ISPs offer graduated plans for stepping up as your Internet traffic increases, so you only pay for what you need today, and upgrade tomorrow with no penalties. In general, for bandwidth and applications, the longer you wait, the lower prices will be and the more likely the solution you need will be available at lower cost.

The key to upgrade-able web sites is design. Databases and processes should be designed with open, relational structures so that adding components and objects is simple. The long-term vision should be identified and understood so that implementation compromises don't contradict the overall direction.

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