I am about to start working on a project and would like some suggestions on how to proceed. I am sorry, I can not get too specific. I need to create a site for my clients and myself to log in to and access our ongoing projects. Clients will log in, and choose a project from a list. Once inside the project they can update database fields, upload and download documents and send me messages.

There will not be anything flashy, just slick and clean looking, and work well on various screen sizes. I need to be able to implement robust security.

I am new to web development, but not to computing. I have done a little programming in the past as well as network engineering and administration. Basically, I can learn to do whatever I need to complete this project. The issue I am having is that there is a LOT of stuff out there and I am not sure what would best suit my needs (CMS, Framework, Portal?)

So far I have been attacking on two fronts; learning HTML5 and CSS hand coding along with some tutorials. Also I have been messing around with Drupal and its associated themes and modules.

It seems the project is too large for me to realistically hand code everything in html. It seems too small for some of the CMS applications I have been messing with. Dupal seems to be overkill.

If this was your project how would you proceed? Is there a good framework (open source) out there that will let me hand code my pages and layouts with html and css but offers some bolt ons to assist with mysql database integration and security? I am going to continue studying html5 and css but I feel like I might be wasting my time with drupal for now. Sorry this is long and kind of rambly. Feel free to ramble back.