First of all, I have been browsing around a few sites and found this one to be the best I found so far when it comes to web design discussion. Good work!

I had an epiphany of a website idea recently, and immediately rushed off to the library to learn enough to explain what I want to a designer. I want to get it done in pieces so that I don't have to give away my idea or pay a ton. I am wondering how a couple different website functions work, what they use, and how labor intensive/costly they are to implement.

I am creating a database that will be used by the website. The web idea would best be executed by using the (I think) CSS forms that Google uses on its personalized home pages. You know, where it has a section for gmail, news, weather, etc. Are these CSS boxes with Javascript inside them? How intense is the coding for this, or could I find a template and have to adjust borders etc. ?

My thoughts here are that I could have the boxes each pull different sets of data from MySQL database, and CSS + Javascript would format it accordingly. I would have a login system, and nearly all the data on the page would be returned from the database I speak of. I am a college student, so cant pour tons of money into this. Does anyone have a strategy that would work best for putting this together? My plan now is to try and chop it into explainable pieces and get them done on rentacoder or elance, and once theyre close to done, hire someone to put the pieces together for me.

Sorry for the long post, but I don't have a lot of tech savvy friends to get any quality input from. Thanks in advance for your wisdom and time!