Myself and my roomate in a drunken haze came up with what seems to be a pretty decent business idea but we need a few questions answered.
The business will be web based, if it ever comes to fruition and it would need some features that we'd like to integrate into the site.
1. An accounts system would be needed, think like accounts for this forum but ads would need to be posted up.
2. The site itself would need to have a search feature for these ads, which would have to be a bit more advanced than just typing in keywords.
Where could we design a site like this without a huge amount of expertise?
I am still on my first cup of coffee, so if this post does not make a lot of sense, there is the reason.
There is always this conundrum when someone has a new idea. To get good accurate advice, you need to share a fair amount of detail. If you share a good amount of detail, you worry that someone will steal the idea. Nearly universally people hold back too much detail when trying to balance the twin goals of keeping the idea secret and getting good advice. If you don't go to Mark Zuckerberg for advice, you will probably not have anyone try to steal your idea.
Given the small detail you have shared, it sounds like you need a platform that has both membership components and a content management system. The content management system will need to be extensible, meaning you can customize it to be your idea not a generic idea with the name of your idea on it. I am inferring from the post, that it will also need to be free or close to it. You also want a low learning curve, so you can build out your idea with limited technical knowledge. The problem you have is that the better it is at being easy and non-technical, the worse it is likely to be at the other things you need it to do. Something that is flexible and extensible by design will also require some technical expertise. Something that is easy to use and non-technical achieves it's simplicity by making assumptions about what it needs to do and how it needs to operate, and so limits the flexibility it offers. I would encourage you to not focus on the easy for non-techs requirement. If you make that a primary requirement, you will be tempted to compromise other parts of your vision, and those parts are usually what would make it successful.
So, pretending you did not need something that was easy for a non-tech person to use out of the box, Drupal would do the trick, and is free and open source. There is also a ton of free advice and tutorials out there. There are also a lot of free building blocks or add on modules you can use to help customize it. As with anything in life, there is a learning curve and you will need to spend some time getting up to speed. When it comes to extensible open source content management systems, it is king. Of the content and membership driven sites I have built in the past 4 years, nearly every one has been with Drupal due to it's flexibility and good building blocks.
If you want to PM me some more detail, I can tell you if I still think Drupal is a good fit. Also, if you get started and get stuck on something, feel free to PM me and I will try and help you through it.
Good luck, and be careful if/when you hire any technical consultants or staff. There are a ton of charlatans out there, who know precious little and yet hang out there shingle and start taking folks money. The money is replaceable, the time you spend with them driving you down a dead end road is not. If you need an objective third party to vet your hires, I can do that for you too.