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How a database-driven system can help your website

Published on September 6, 2012
Tags: Web Development London

The vast majority of businesses now have their own website, but many are flat-file websites consisting purely of text and images. However, have you ever considered a database-driven website designed to store large amounts of data with ease and security?

Most people will at least be familiar with the concept of a database; a system of linked tables in which data is stored in a logical format, ensuring that it can be easily managed and retrieved. Databases need not be desktop-based, though – there are many uses for databases in websites which can lead to your site being far more powerful than it currently is.

Updating and maintaining a flat-file website can be quite tedious. Having to go in and edit the text directly on each page can take a long time and be quite expensive if you are paying a company to do this for you. Having to change the styling and coding on each individual page is cumbersome, at best. Having an incorporated database on your website will help do away with this hassle, making maintaing and updating your website far simpler. Not only does it make things easier, but it can make your website far more powerful than it currently is.

Databases give you far more power in design, even allowing you to customise your design and content for individual visitors. A database ensures that only a handful of static web pages need to be designed and maintained, with the database itself generating thousands or more individual, dynamic pages. These pages are also fully searchable, due to the content being stored in a logical database. The inherent organisational capabilities of a database-driven website are hard to beat, with static pages vastly limiting what your website can do for you.

If you run an eCommerce website, for example, a database-driven website is absolutely essential in order to be able to handle large numbers of products. A content management system – a blog, for example – would also be another good example of a website which requires a database system in order for it to run effectively. In essence, any form of web system which requires large amounts of data to be stored, retrieved and manipulated will need a database behind it in order to run as it should do.

There are, of course, some disadvantages to using databases, but these are few and far between. Having a database-driven website designed does require a programmer with a reasonable level of skill and experience and the costs of having a website such as this designed are usually more expensive than a flat-file website. In terms of ongoing costs, however, these tend to be much lower. You will also need to consider the technological requirements which will need to be addressed by your hosting company. The vast majority of hosting packages will offer some form of database administration capabilities, but you may need to look at moving to a new hosting company if the support isn't adequate.

There are a couple of different options to choose from in terms of what type of technology will drive your database. Two of the more popular options are Microsoft SQL Server and mySQL. Choosing one of these types of database will ensure that you are able to find support in terms of programming much more easily than if you use a more esoteric database system.

To conclude the matter, if you want your website to be dynamically driven and to be able to cope with processing, retrieving and storing large amounts of data and information, a database system is absolutely vital. Although the costs may be greater in the first instance, this is due to the complexity of the system and the specific skills and programming knowledge required in order to set up this sort of arrangement. However, ongoing costs will tend to be much lower as the database will tend to maintain itself. You will not have to keep contacting your web design company or developer in order to get them to make changes to the website as the dynamic aspect of the system will allow you to make changes simply and easily and with minimal effort. Whether you're looking for ease of use, simple updates or simply to store large amounts of data in a more complex website, it is well worth looking at database-driven technology in order to drive your website.

By Chelsey Evans

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