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What level of technology do you really need?

Before I elaborate - no more than is actually demanded by function. Simplify! Technology is there to enable you whenever needed. Remember the first rule of programmers: anything can be done - if you're willing pay for it! Make sure, before you invest in an idea, it will do something useful or make you money.

onlinedesignFLA is here to assist you in your choices selecting what level of sophistication you really need - be it a data driven application or simple, static pages.

What are "static" pages?  

Static pages do nothing but display text and images - enough for some purposes. On the opposite side is a totally "data driven site" - fairly rare - only the largest sites go that far. The pages are created in pieces, on demand, from a database and patched together like a quilt. Most web sites fall somewhere in between.

Popular "dynamic" server formats are ASP PHP, JSP, Cold Fusion, etc.

  • technologyNote - PHP is a code "re-processor" and tends to be far slower to load than asp.

Web 2.0 or "Ajax" is totally JavaScript dependent and disables useful features like a back button and bookmarking. If the user has scripts disabled, the content is useless. It is something to watch for the future.

  positive aspects of data driven sites
  • Saves storage space on the server.
  • Can update many instances of same data at once.
  • Can redesign a large site in a fraction of the time.
  • Can perform functions like calculating insurance rates, gathering email addresses and sending out newsletters, etc.
negative aspects of data driven sites
  • Way more expensive initially.
  • Not user friendly for maintenance.
  • Dynamic pages, if created on the fly from a database, are not searchable by the spiders and robots that read web pages for the search engines - they will not be indexed.
Ask yourself these questions

How much content do I need to put in a database?

 No more than you have to! If it occurs once just put it on a page . Microsoft's dynamic online encyclopedia Encarta is a beautiful example of a complicated data driven web mega-site - they are unconcerned with SEO.

Updating all instances of an item of data could be very time consuming in a conventional web site. The traditional printed encyclopedia is all but extinct because as soon as it is printed it it needs revision. The online encyclopedia, however, is never out of date! Multiple instances of a single item needing correction in numerous locations are at once updated by a single act on the database.


Is my site going to be software or a publication?

By this I mean are you showcasing a product for off-line sale like automobiles or home improvements, or are you selling downloadable software online? A site that gives you a requested result, like an insurance quote, from personal information submitted is software. A dynamic site is actually an online software application.

pressAn online showcase is a publication and unnecessary programming would amount to over-engineering.

Publication sites should be administered by designers, editors and publishers, not programmers - software sites need to be maintained by programmers.  Failure to heed this has been the prime reason many a site has disappeared from view and gone out of business. It was the greatest mistake of the web boom - no workable balance between the publisher mentality and the strictly technical.

rich media
Hey! Enough is enough with the “rich media”

Rich media refers to Flash movies, Flash ads, Videos (mpegs, Microsoft Windows Media Player, etc) and other streaming motion graphics that can be embedded in a web page.

The internet imitates life and thrives on crazes like the rest of Americana. In the early 2000's it was discovered that animated banners caught the eye more than static ones - ergo, a war was waged to see who could be more animated than the rest. The result was, predictably, an obnoxious blur of tasteless motion that drove users away. What is the logic of making a buck today with an ad that diminishes your following tomorrow?

If you want to include a video in a page, be courteous and use a thumbnail with the option to load - don't make them wait for something they might not want. You may get off to a very bad start with your new user.


How bad do you really need Flash?

How many plug-ins would you install to see somebody's advertisement? Flash intros always have a "Skip Intro" button for a good reason - nobody watches them! Save your money.

It is becoming apparent that Flash is here to stay - and there are some good reasons for some Flash content. One good reason is National Geographic Channel Online. They have great content in the form of world class videos - now that's reason! A gratuitous Flash intro however, is a waste of money because the content is pointless motion for its own sake.

if you don't have something interesting to show - Spend your money on SEO! Now get ready for the real drawbacks —

Flash is the AntiCrrist of SEO. A Flash page can stop a web crawler cold. Once it stops there's no jump start - it's "See Ya' Later Alligator"and it moves on the next lucky domain on it's list. This system is very egalitarian - it doesn't care if you're beautiful, ugly, a philanthropist or a child molester- it's all about playin' ball with the master.

Flash can be a bandwidth hog.

Flash, when installed from an online prompt, often installs incorrectly so some people disable Flash or don't let it install. Google Flash9b.ocx and you will be amazed at what havoc the Flash player can play on your system when it is installed 'with a click' from an online prompt - never upgrade the Flash player that way.

To safely upgrade your Flash player do it HERE.

Coding Flash content to display in newer browsers has become a problem. It now requires a large in-page script - click to see the fix! Since Most Flash on the web is ads, do you want your potential customers to jump through hoops to see your ad??

Why I hate Flash!


The textual content in a Flash based web site is invisible to most search engines, so the only searchable content is in the *meta files of the container page. Yahoo reads the keyword meta file, but without matching text in the content it is worthless.

Google now claims to be able to read textual content in a Flash site - BUT - most Flash developers are now using a javaScript to load the Flash content due to load problems with the "embed" attribute. This is a "Catch 22" if you read the following quote from Google:

"Googlebot does not execute some types of JavaScript. If your web page uses JavaScript to load a Flash file, we may not be able to discover and index the contents of that file."

*Keyword meta files display your keywords only to web bots and are not seen by the public.

Stupid videos: I don't want to wait five minutes to see your cat lick his own ear!!


Do you have any idea what a mess You Tube and face Book, etc. has caused? "Broadcast Yourself!!" Any idiot with forty bucks can buy a web cam and publish crap by the terabyte and help clog the internet. They make Flash files look small by comparison.

If you have been told by a social networking SEO "guru" that the answer to all your needs is videos on your home page, think again. You have probably also been told that since Google bought You Tube you have an instant in on Google with a You Tube video.

The reality is:

You Tube can be a valuable marketing tool if you have something people want to see that relates to your product or service. If your video is quality, you will be perceived as quality. If you hang a bed sheet for a background and use a cheap web cam lit with a table lamp you will do yourself more harm than good.

A caveat:

The internet is already becoming overloaded with amateur media from web cams, cell phones and other consumer capture media. Big interests are trying to clamp down on runaway bandwidth - watch and see what happens!

consumer capture media
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