Why Database-Driven Websites?

So if we’re still living in the “Information Age” what is the most important thing that a website should offer? Information. Who, what, why, where, when, how? As the amount of information increases, so does the importance of it being readily available. Is the data understandable in its current format? Can data be gathered quickly and easily? Are there tendencies that can be formulated from the data? Is the data useful?

More and more organizations I work with now request a content management system (CMS) as part of their website. The better CMS’ are database-driven. They allow quicker and easier methods of backups, searches, and editing, than do php-based html editing systems. With websites, “content is king”. Since information is so vital to the way a company’s website communicates, the owners of the website should have the tools available to make the process fast and easy. I used to be opposed to CMS websites as a rule. I always hated template-based websites. But I’ve come to realize that template-based sites are as good or as bad as the templates they’re made from. They don’t have to look cookie-cutter, or that they were designed by programers (sorry to all my friends out there). Well placed ingenuity and creativity make CMS websites powerful and attractive – and effective.

Search engines don’t care about graphics and can’t differentiate good design from poor design. Among other things, search engines evaluate content and content positioning. It can be argued out that search engines do reward and punish websites for good or bad code, but the most important aspect of indexing is informative and timely content. The right CMS makes this happen. The structure of many systems is inherently better suited for search engine indexing than static html websites. It comes back to the gift of content.

Other Uses for Databases on Websites…
You can throw mountains of information into an excel sheet, or worse, paste it into static tables that run a mile deep. That makes your information as efficient as a phone book. Since information is constantly changing, shouldn’t your audience have access to the most current stuff? Using databases, you can track anything from contact information to membership renewals, to clicks on web page.

Think about your audience or your own experience on the web. What are you looking for? How long will you wait to find it? How much more important is it to be entertained rather than informed? The usefulness of databases on the web is still in its infancy. What more can we do with data and how can we make it easier to get, to find, and to understand? We find by doing…

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