The purpose of the website is to communicate with, and inform, prospective customers on what you have to offer. There are different strategies that we can use to present the information as prospective customers navigate the website. For the creation of simple websites we can use a fairly casual approach to create the site you want – for a more complex site we will need to establish a formal project that is more involved than the process described here.
We assume you already have content waiting to be transformed: if you require research or technical writing to create original content that is outside the scope of web design to present the information. We can help you with content creation, but this will also be in terms of a formal project to address the unique needs of what you have in mind. Note that you cannot assume to use manufacturer’s information without consent: it may be better to craft custom content to introduce (and link to) manufacturer’s information.
Make sure you have a good handle on WHAT you are going to say before we get deep into HOW we are going to say it and present it on a website. The latter is our domain in website building. We can help with WHAT you are going to say in a separate project, because there may be different implications depending on what data you want to use.
The logic behind a data-driven website is that we keep the contents external to the web pages to make it much easier to change the content. For example, a dealership might want to keep information about available vehicles in a file that can feed into a web page so that the page itself does not have to be changed to reflect changes to the inventory. The file can be quickly updated and replaced while the website itself remains unchanged so that the maintenance effort to keep the data current can be kept to a minimum.
The use of data-driven techniques makes the project more complex, but it simplifies the on-going maintenance of the page content. Key information can be provided by means of simple “XML” text files that are easy to update and upload to the hosting server for rendering current content. For example, a site highlighting real estate information can benefit from a listing of properties, and for each property it can provide a structured set of information that the prospective buyer might be interested in. A rental office for an apartment building may list units available for different floor layouts, if any. You can list a restaurant menu and update the specials more frequently than with a static site.
Although not quite static, the frequency of changes is limited to when an agent sells a property, or obtains a new listing, which makes this an ideal alternative. If you have a similar need, we can create your site and teach you how to maintain the contents.
With a dynamic website we update the information in response to customer activity. If someone buys a book from our website, we can dynamically decrement the quantity of books available, so that other visitors will know if the book is in stock. If the site offers an auction process, it will keep track of the highest bids for different items until the time expires and the highest bidder is notified of the completed purchase.
Dynamic websites require that the hosting service allows us to use a database that has to be efficient enough to keep up with the activity, which can be considerable (imagine the traffic volume that a site like eBay has to carry in order to manage bids on items). The complexity of a dynamic website is such that it requires a different approach to the setup and maintenance than we have explained for static websites: it pretty well means you need your own site manager to constantly monitor the performance of the site and to keep things going once the site goes live.
If this is the kind of website you have in mind, we need to establish a different kind of project relationship than the fairly casual approach that works well for small business sites without dynamic data management. There will be a lot more involved to ensure that your data are safe and reliably processed regardless of the number of visitors.
With a dynamic website we can also create an on-line catalog of items for sale. Since this also involves people purchasing on-line, and arranging for payment on-line, we will generally recommend a static website with links into a merchant website that offers a shopping-cart mechanism and payment services. It is a different kind of challenge, and the nature of establishing and maintaining this kind of website depends much on what your focus is for merchandising. A selling website no longer complements a business: it competes with the business while at the same time it opens up new markets.
As you may imagine such a website changes your focus from retail to fulfillment and it changes how you physically get merchandise to the customers. It may require strategic planning and process (re-)design: Amazon.com is not just an extension of a book store - it is a completely new business that has its own distribution centers to get merchandise in the hands of the customers. You will more likely interact with couriers or post office to complete the transaction than with the customer itself. Your challenge is shipping to wherever the purchase was made, whatever the obstacles are to product delivery.
In other words, the preparation is not merely a website, nor is it dealing with content, it is dealing with supply chain and logistics that could dramatically change how you might operate. It is an exciting prospect, but beware that success could kill you.
The intent of a static website is to publish information. This write4hire.com website is static: we do not collect information and the content does not change much until there is a need to upgrade the services description. Static does not mean without features like downloading information or initiating E-mail requests for information – it means we do not frequently change the contents of the web pages, so that the pages are changed only if there is a fundamental need to update the information.
Static websites are low-cost because they are much easier to create, and still they are a useful tool in your marketing and publicity campaigns. You can attach a link to the site as part of your E-mail signature and advertise every time you sign an E-mail. You can use the website address in your stationary masthead and bring customers to your site. Compared to traditional printed materials, even a static website is easy to keep up to date and relevant to what you have to offer.
Most “vanity sites” and general information sites are static with update frequencies of less than once per month at the most, so that we can simply update or replace the page contents to reflect the new information.