How to Build a Database Driven Web Site

If you ever want to create a state directory, article
directory, dating site or link directory, you need to know about
creating database driven web sites. This may seem like a
daunting task at first, if you have never done it, however
I was in the same boat as you. It is not as difficult as
you think.

Benefits of building database driven web sites

-Store vast amounts of information about your products or
services.

-Efficient data sorting and retrieval

-Complex queries and statistical analysis performed relatively
easily

-Separate site design from site’s content

-Create new pages on the fly without manually creating or
editing new web pages

-Makes it easy for client to post content, update records
without the need to know html or rely on a web developer.

-Advanced search capabilities

-Attract repeat visitors with fresh and constantly updated content.

-Update site information online without the need to upload web
pages.

-Site maintenance greatly reduced.

-Enhance web interactivity

Requirements

MySQL – to retrieve information from a database, you first
need to have a database. That’s where MySQL comes in.
MySQL is a relational database management system,
or RDBMS. It’s a software package that is very good at
organizing and managing large amounts of information.
MySQL also makes that information readily accessible
by using a server-side scripting language like PHP.

PHP – this is a server-side scripting language. With PHP
installed, your Web server will be able to read a new file
(called a “PHP script”) that can retrieve information instantly
from a database and insert it into a web page before sending
it to the browser that requested it. PHP is completely free to
download and use.

Check with your current Web host. Make sure they have
already installed MySQL and PHP on your Web server.
Most web hosting companies already have it installed.
If not find a web host that provides this service.

Steps to building a database driven web site:

You will be building a link directory site using a mySQL
database and the WSN Links Script (a PHP script). Here’s an
example of the “Colorado Business Directory Site” that was
built, based on following the 7 steps below:

[http://www.hereiscolorado.com]

1. Check that your web host has PHP 4.10+ (or PHP 5) and
MySQL 3+ installed on the server.

2. To create the mySQL database on the web server:

-login to the cpanel of your server ie domainname/cpanel
with your user name and password.

-click on ‘MySQL Databases’ icon.

-enter database name

-click ‘add db’

-click on ‘go back’

-under ‘Users’ enter user name and password for database

-click ‘add user’

-click on ‘go back’

-click on ‘add user to database’

You should now get the reply that your database
installation was successful.

3. Download the PHP script files to your desktop at:
WSN links – [http://www.isitebuild.com/cgi-bin/a/t.cgi?wsnlinks]

4. Extract files from the ZIP folder and save them
to a folder on your computer.

5. Upload all the extracted files to your hosting space

6. Set the correct permissions for your files.

7. To complete the installation and to customize the
script, read the manual at:

[http://www.isitebuild.com/cgi-bin/a/t.cgi?wsnlinks]

You can continue to customize or edit your site online by
accessing the admin panel within your web site.

Adding, sorting, retrieving, searching data, creating new
pages, links etc can now easily be accomplished.

Congratulations!… you successfully have built yourself a
database driven web site.

Let’s Hear It For Web 0.1!

It’s November 2006. So far the Web 2.0 bubble hasn’t burst. Here’s my attempt to put a pin-prick in it.

Don’t know what Web 2.0 is? It’s the notion that the next phase of web development is based on user-generated content. _You_ don’t have to write it, your visitors will.

– You get a CMS (a Content Management System, like PHPNuke).

– Users write reviews, blogs, forum posts (Webmasterworld.com).

– Search engines index this stuff (Google.com).

– Users tell their pals about it (MySpace.Com).

– You spend a few thousand bucks, or a few million, depending on how good your chief coder is.

– The thing sells itself (Digg.Com).

– You add contextual ads (Google Adsense).

– Fire off a couple of emails a day, and bank your cheques.

For the small-to-medium webmaster, this can be the route to disaster. Here’s my experience.

See, I was in favour of user contribution. Gives people something to _do_ on a site. If it’s any good, they’ll tell their pals. More traffic.

So I have chat rooms, a forum, a MySpace clone, a dating service, contact forms, ebooks, free software, the whole shebang. All humming away, all bringing in links, all keeping my visitors amused and informed.

Only problem is, the set-up time. The maintenance. The customisation. The search engine optimisation. The hacking attempts. The anti-hacking. The bug fixes. The security updates. The swearing filters. The troll kicking. The screeching. The spamming.

More bandwidth, more databases, more time, more money, more worry.

YouTube.com is a good example. Their business model is using pirated content. They have to police users. Bandwidth costs must be huge. Where’s the money going to come from: ads in pirated videos? Gimme a break.

For any web business, the basic questions are:

– What makes the money?

– What helps make the money?

– Where is the net profit coming from?

Could your site be better served by static HTML pages which you update once every six months? If your site is purely informational, it’s worth considering.

My epiphany came when first some Bahraini hackers clobbered a site of mine. I fixed it. Then some Turkish ones had a go. So I changed to a different CMS. So far, so good, until I realised I would have to constantly update this thing.

It then dawned on me that using a text-to-HTML converter (Text2html) and an index generator (dirhtml) meant simple text files could be turned into a basic site quickly.

You write it, format it, tart it up in Dreamweaver, index it, FTP it and voila!; a mini site without the upgrade headaches.

A CMS has some handy features, but pure HTML lets you sleep easier. Easier to move when the poop hits the air-conditioning, too.

Put it this way: which would you rather own when the Nazis are closing in? Damien Hirst’s ‘Shark In A Tank’ or the Mona Lisa?

I’m starting to think before I put stuff up now. Would simple HTML do just as well? Suppose I have to move web hosts? Will I be able to find one that’ll give me ten MySQL databases at the same price as my current host? And all the other features I need? (Answer: No, I’ve looked).

The first rule of computing is KISS; Keep It Simple, Stupid. With all the brouhaha about Web 2.0, I say, let’s hear it for Web 0.1!

Why Outsourcing Your Website Development Project Is a Good Idea

People who operate small businesses are often faced with a difficult problem. They may only have a limited number of employees that must complete all of the day to day operations that keep a company in business. As all companies become more dependent on technology in general and information technology specifically, the decision of whether to outsource or not is becoming more difficult to make. Here are some facts that may make it easier for you to make that decision for your company.

The advantages of outsourcing website development

There are many advantages to outsourcing website development. The same advantages also pertain to website maintenance as well. The first advantage is cost. Although it may seem expensive to hire an outsourcer to perform these tasks for you, the fact is that in the long run it may end up saving you quite a bit of money. Unless your company is one that is operating in the information technology sector it may have little need to have an IT expert on staff. The cost of having an IT expert on staff full time may be very prohibitive to some companies especially those that have a very tight bottom line.

Another advantage is that you will save a lot of time by outsourcing your website development and maintenance needs. Instead of dealing with companies that offer mass produced templates and poor quality websites or spending the time and energy needed to build a custom website yourself you may find that handing the project to a qualified and trustworthy company can save you quite a bit of time indeed. Experts have proven that by concentrating on the core tasks that a company needs to concern themselves with and outsourcing the remaining work a company can end up being much more profitable in the long run.

You can be sure that the site will be functional and easy to locate. A professional website developer has had experience working with different technologies and can mesh them together into a site that functions the way it is supposed to. A website that is not fully functional can end up driving customers away which leads to lost revenues.

The disadvantages of outsourcing website development

There are few disadvantages of outsourcing your website development and maintenance. Perhaps the biggest one is that you may be placing your trust in a company which does not understand what the goal of your business may be. This may be especially true of charitable organizations or foundations that may have specific goals or mandates.

If you do get an unsuitable website design you may find that a certain amount of time will be necessary in order to bring the project back to a state that you feel comfortable with. However, even though this will take some time, it will usually take much less time than it would be if you were building a site on your own.

In the end, there are many more advantages to working with a professional website design company rather than building a site yourself. If you look at a web development company’s portfolio and choose one that has the style and skills you are looking for you can outsource your site development and still end up with a great site in the end.