DATABASES DRIVING YOUR WEBSITE
If you have lots of information to convey through your site it pays to look at creating a database to contain your content or integrating your website with your existing database.
A web page can display different information depending on some request from the user. You may want to link details about hundreds of products to the web for online sales, or track variable information such as current stock availability or customer order status.
Simple websites are usually static pages created one by one in html. Any changes to the content have to be made within the code on each page.
You need "dynamic pages" that are built on the fly for much of the functionality that makes a website interactive.
ONLINE SEARCHES THROUGH BACKEND DATABASES
The days of linking from alphabetical listings on a website are long gone. For anything more than a very small product range, you should store information in a database on the server and users can search by keywords which also streamlines updating this information.
Most databases are capable of being linked to the Internet but the skill lies in choosing the most cost effective solution that will provide the best response for each unique situation. Axys works with products that are capable of supporting a range of requirements from simple single table databases, through to relational databases capable of taking millions of hits per day.
Have a look at the search functionality on sites we have created for Hayley Media like the endex industry directory website Several hundred exhibitors supply a few paragraphs about their products and services and several logos or images. All this information is held in a database on the webserver and the pages on the website are created 'on the fly'. We have added a password protected backend to the site to allow the customer to update exhibitor details themselves. We include some hidden categories in the database to further enhance the search functionality.
THIRD PARTY SEARCH ENGINES
The Big Cities website designed for six of New Zealand's cities was primarily created to give access to the findings of the Quality of Life Project. The site links to 150 pages of report in pdf format. We decided the most cost effective method to provide searchability through the large pdfs was to use a third party plugin from Atomz - have a look at www.bigcities.govt.nz
COLLECTING DATA ONLINE
Axys has considerable experience collecting data online - registrations for events such as trade shows and conferences, subscriptions, submissions and collecting data for printed publications. A form filled in on the web and the data forwarded to an email address may be fine when you get the occasional reply but 10s, 100s or 1000s of replies require a backend database to avoid the need to re-key the data from the form. There is more to it than that including:
- compulsory and optional fields & validating data
- error tracking and reporting
- an automated confirmation email & follow up reminder emails
- password protected download area and formatting of download data to import directly into exising databases or ready to import into print layout software.