Display information on hundreds or thousands of related items
In the early days of the Internet, Website design consisted primarily of creating fancy graphics and nice-looking easy-to-read Web pages. As today's Websites become user interactive, the steps in Website design have changed. Although creating a pleasent-looking Website is still important, sometimes the primary focus shifts from graphical design to programmatic design depending on your Website requirements. When the number of people online reached a critical mass, companies that sold products and services began to spring up. Therefore the need for programmatic design became more pressing than deciding what background colour to use.
If your site needs to display information on hundreds or thousands of related items, to allow site visitors to search through these using different criteria, then you need a Website database incorporated into your Website.
Much of an effective Website is behind the scenes driven by a database. Databases can be used on the Internet in a wide range of ways, some examples are given below:
- Security / User Profiles: A database can be used to control entry into a Website by forcing the user to enter a username and password which is then cross checked against the database. If the details are valid the user can then enter the Website and get at the content or services inside.
- Build Client List: By asking users for their details it is possible to compile a database of customer details which can then be used for marketing or other purposes. These details can then be used when the user visits the site again. If you make the user log-in then you can track individual users, see how often they visit, what they buy etc.
- Content Management: An advanced use of databases is in the creation / use of content management systems. A content management system allows the Website designer to separate structure and design from content. This means that the Website designer can build the basic physical structure of the Website while the owner has complete control over the content. Content management systems include interfaces that allow the owner to enter their own content with a minimal knowledge of HTML, all that is needed is an internet connection and the ability to know your way around an input form and an enter key.
- On-line Shopping: Websites that are selling large numbers of products can benefit from using a database. I can develop a database that allows the Website owner to easily update their products adding or removing items, changing prices and updating information etc. Then I can create search forms on the Website to display search results in a stylish manner. Site visitors can search by any element of information which the client has added – size, cost, weight, price, age, etc – there’s no limit to the possibilities!
Databases can either be publicly viewable, for anyone visiting your Website to use, or be private, used only by the site owner or by users with access password.
I will design your database-driven site using appropriate technologies to deliver the goods effectively, without slowing down the site or making it cumbersome to maintain. I will not use technologies just for the sake of it. Remember it's what your customers need that counts and that will determine the technologies that power your Website.
If you have an existing database you'd like to use online, or think your company would benefit by using an online database accessed from your Website, please contact me and I will help define and refine your requirements - it's all part of my approach.
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