I had a free couple of weeks, so I wrote the PHP script for a website that I had in mind. To be honest, I am not the best - I am just an amateur. I have read a couple of books (o'reilly) and that is all I know about PHP.
My website so far is nothing but a few working links. I am thinking of outsourcing it to someone who has some experience in designing and all.
How good is this approach towards launching a website?
I wanted to do it on my own, but as already stated, I am not the best at it. I don't have any long term plans for the website. I might go for an experienced programmer later, but at the moment all I want is to have the feel of start-up if you'll call it the same.
Am I going in the right direction by doing the coding on my own and then looking for a designer?
It depends on what you are trying to do. If it's something that holds personal information about your future users, you should definitely hire very good professionals if you don't wanna have trouble or be pursued. If you are not a professional, you gonna leave security flaws.
But, I guess that you should really go ahead to build your working prototype, if brand is the important thing, invest on a very good design to make your current codes to show up beautifully and you will be able to present your idea to investors.
You should envolve your idea and cooperate with a programmer first, then a designer. Design is very important, but there are some helpers out there, f.e.:
twitter.github.com/bootstrap/ Every php programmer should be able to handle this. When your site grows you can spend some bucks on a real unique design. I agree with the other answer from Pabluez, that security wholes or data related issues (storing data in a format which is pain to separate later) can cost you much time and grief. In my opinion it must work in first place and then look good. Imagine an iPad which still doesn't work. Then imagine an uglier tablet which works like a charm.
My 2 cents - I do it like this.
I don't think there is anything wrong with your approach at all. Lots of people think that anyone launching an Internet startup must learn to code - there are simply too many iterations these things must go through to be successful. Sounds like you have taken your site to at least the prototype stage, and that is a good thing. Have you thought about playing around with CSS a bit to see if you can improve the appearance - I think you will find it just as hard to work with a designer.