Data-driven Web Sites

OK, so it’s the new thing. But when does it make sense to use a database server? Let’s take a look at the basics.

What is database-driven?

Basically speaking, a database-enabled web site allows you to customize your content for specific users, or to serve up customized information to answer a specific question by a specific user, e.g., which members or agents or salons are located in California or Ohio, or which are located in a
specific 3- or 5-digit zip code? Note that data can refer to text, numeric, or even date information.

Many organizations today already have mission-critical information arranged in databases. Enabling a web site to serve database information can add immense value to your web communications, This can very easily complement and support your customer service program, and typically reduces your
overall customer service costs while increasing the value you bring to your customer.

Databases have been ushered into the worldwide web through an ever-increasing number of stable yet versatile tools that allow site developers to capture the power of databases. Applications such as PHP, MySQL, Ruby on Rails, and XML combine with standard HTML (HyperText Markup Language) and
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to create powerful yet elegant sites. These applications have the added attraction of being freeware; they are in the public domain so do not require a fee for the license to use the application.

How do I know whether it’s right for me?

It is a good question. Those that only need a very small, simple site often need only a “static” site, i.e., each page is hard-coded and never changes.

Those who have multiple items that each consist of multiple pieces of similar types of data are more often opting for an XML implementation.

Those who wish to display complex information or who already have their information organized in a relational database use tools such as php or Ruby to query (communicate with) a database management system (DBMS) such as MySQL or Oracle to display their data as requested.

Some organizations run their entire large web site using database technology; others only need a portion of their site to be database-driven. The benefits include:

  • streamlining business processes and procedures
  • becoming more responsive to your users
  • reducing the amount of people needed to manage business processes
  • reducing the cost of the business services, thereby becoming more competitive

But again, the best way to determine if your whole site, or a portion of your site, can benefit from database technology is to review your content and site goals with your designer before work begins. To learn more about the advantages of site planning, read Constructing User-Centered Websites. If you’d like to talk more about our database services, contact or 513.677.3887 for more information.

Data-driven Examples

  • Collection of Data from Forms
  • Dynamically sorted information
  • Employee contact information
  • Events Calendars
  • Frequently updated content
  • Gallery displays
  • Membership directories
  • Product inventories
  • Sales of Product (eCommerce)
  • Secure Online payments
  • Usernames and passwords managed