Internet Based Business and Relevance of Website Design and Development

Gone are days when the applications of the internet were merely restricted to data transfer. Nowadays the internet and its applications have shrunk the globe to such an extent that the buyer can have accesses to the seller within seconds.

Why is the website necessary?

The word website if examined superficially is a combination of two words; “web” and “site”. This refers to the location of a business identity on the internet. When compared to the conventional business operations, the internet can be compared to a market and the website can be considered a shop or office. Form this sentence itself one can come to know the relevance of website. Having a website has now become a necessity just because of competitive market and cost effectiveness. The competition among the business identities has compelled the businesses to be accessible by the buyer at the earliest. The adage saying “the early bird takes the worm” is apt in this scenario. Usually the website connects the buyer directly with the manufacturer, getting rid of the costs pertaining to the middle men. This makes the product or service cheaper.

Something about website development:

The utility of the website needs to be optimized to generate maximum revenue. This optimization of the website utility is called website development. Website development starts with the planning about website design and is a never ending process (except in the circumstances of the business identity getting liquidated). Some of the phases of website development are website design development, open-source software customization website application development, web-based database programming, content management system, web development services, e-commerce solution, and many more.

The initial phase of the website development is very critical because it pertains to the planning of what has to be displayed through the website. This needs to consider the buyer behavior and preferences. This phase is also about the technology that is going to be used to publish the website on the internet.

Usually the professional website developers take into consideration the elements of search engine optimization (SEO) in the initial stages of website development. This is because large scale amendments in the content are hardly possible after the website is designed. Some of the elements for SEO are key words, incoming links, and keyword phrases, outgoing links, speed of downloading and navigational ease.

The main thrust of website development is attracting as much traffic as possible and converting the maximum number of visitors into buyers. This is possible when the URL features on the top list of the search engines. The website layout needs to be simple, clear and navigation should be easy. The visitor should be able to find what he/she is looking for in the least number of clicks.

A website can not only generate new business but if maintained properly, can also keep the competition at bay. This is only possible if the services of a reliable and professional website development company are hired.

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Finding the Best Web Design Solution

Web design has become much easier than it was back when I first began building websites. There were a few programs that offered some WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interfaces, but you still had to do a good deal of the HTML coding by hand to get pages just how I wanted them. Javascript coding was done almost entirely by hand. Add to this all the new technologies that have emerged. CSS, PHP, ASP.NET, AJAX, and Web 2.0. Fortunately new technologies have come along to make things easier as well. You can either install software to build your own site, or use an online site builder.

Webpage creating software.

Web Design Software
Programs like Dreamweaver and Visual Studios now remove any need to do any HTML coding, but there is still the occasional need to modify code, but for the most part all the basic coding is done for you. If you are building a simple static site, this might be all you need. If you need to access information from a database, provide and dynamic and interactive site, or develop an e-commerce site; there is no way around having to know some coding.

Build It Yourself Web Design
Another alternative is to use a one of the online build-it-yourself services. Google lets you build free pages, and you can build an ecommerce site (for a fee) using Yahoo! or Big Commerce. These are just a couple options; there are literally hundreds of options. Having used several of these programs, I can say you can build a very nice website, with a lot of great features quite easily. The problem with these options arises when you need your website to do something unique that is not a feature of the site builder. There are a couple of other disadvantages with these types of sites. First, you are tied to services provider for your site. If for any reason, they go out of business or just decide to stop offering the service, you have to start over. This has happened with Lycos, Angelfire and many others. If you have a site built on HTML / Web programming languages, you can host your site where ever you wish without having to redo anything. Second, with these online site-builders, you are normally charged a monthly fee considerably higher than it would cost to simply have the site hosted on your own. The initial cost of hiring a web designer will be much higher, but if you plan to keep your site several years, you will not only save money in the long run, but you will have a much more flexible and customizable design that you own and do with as you please.

Web Design using Content Management Systems
A third option is called a Content Management System. These are like a hybrid between web building software and online site builders. CMSs are pieces of software that you install on a web server. Some of the best and most popular CMSs are free to use. Once installed they assist you in building your own site much like the online site-builders. CMS software is usually has a steeper learning curve than online site-builders, but can create incredibly robust, well featured websites. In the hands of a seasoned web developer, a CMS can be customized to provide almost anything you wish. One strategy I would recommend is to have a professional web designer build a site for you using a CMS, and let you do your own updates and changes. With a CMS making these changes is very simple and about as complex and using a word processor. With this strategy you’ll have a website that can still be upgraded and customized if needed, but you still control it and can have it hosted anywhere you wish without an additional cost for using the software. A web developer that has experience in building CMS websites will normally charge less to build a CMS based site as opposed to building and coding one from scratch.

How to Add File Upload Support to Your Web Site

Introduction

Providing the ability for visitors to your web site to upload files from their computer allows for the implementation of some very powerful features, such as for example letting your users share files with other visitors, or decorate their online presence on your site with an identifying portrait or avatar. In general, allowing for a file upload provides an easier way to share a large amount of data rather than extensive and tedious form-filling. However, while the file upload feature has long been supported by most Internet browsers, the precise details of how it is done can be quite tricky; the devil is indeed in the details. In order to correctly use this feature, you will need to perform some work both in the HTML and on the server side, and if you are writing client software to upload the file to an existing web site, you will need to know some details.

In the HTML and Browser

Adding a file upload button to a web page is relatively easy; it is just another type of INPUT field within an HTML FORM. Setting the type attribute of the INPUT field to “file” will provide an input field that allows file selection. Note that the actual upload of the file requires a little bit more work, including some server-side coding, which will follow shortly. The INPUT field may have other attributes set on it, such as size, which will allow control over the size of the display of the selected file, which should be very similar to a text field.

At this point, it is already worth noting that this HTML is likely to vary in appearance considerably from browser to browser. Typically, the form control thus created will consist of what looks like a text field, accompanied by a button that will launch the system file selector. Already, the appearance of the word “looks” should indicate there are possibly some accessibility issues with using this control. In both Internet Explorer and Firefox on Windows, the control appears as a text field with a button labeled “Browse…” next to it, with a few other visual differences. In Google Chrome, the button is labeled “Choose File”, and the text area where the name appears initially begins saying “No file chosen” and is just regular HTML text, not a text input field. There is a little control over the appearance of these visual elements via CSS, but some features, such as the actual text on the button, are chosen by the browser, not by the web developer. Furthermore, the button now means there are two button elements in the HTML FORM, not just a standard “Submit” button. This may cause some issues for browser users who are visually impaired or who use a different input method other than a mouse. In many ways, the appearance of the form may be unfamiliar to users, so your page should contain sufficient explanatory text, should be tested on many browsers, and perhaps should also provide an alternative method of supplying the file data.

Before leaving the HTML, there is one other change that needs to be made to a standard FORM – the enctype attribute of the form needs to be set to “multipart/form-data”. This is the most common omission when setting up a file upload form; if the enctype is left at its default value, “application/x-www-form-urlencoded”, your server will not receive the contents of the file at all, just the file name! This leads us on to the next observation; since the format of the data returned by the browser will be different, any standard form handling code you have will not work. You may need to make matching server changes as well.

On the server

As mentioned above, changing the encoding of the browser response to “multipart/form-data” is necessary so that actual file data is sent to the server; the standard form encoding does not handle arbitrary file sizes well. The encoding is based on the MIME standard for sending multipart messages, most recognizably used in email for file attachments. This makes sense since you are in effect attaching a file to a browser response, but note that the mechanism actually supports multiple files if necessary. Indeed, if there are other INPUT fields in your form, each of their results will also be returned as if they were a file attachment. This means the standard form handling code you have is unlikely to work.

Exactly what needs to be done on the server side depends highly on your server technology and the access rights you have on your site. You may need to contact your web hosting company, for example, to see if they already have a “canned” upload script that you could use. A blog widget or similar inclusion on a third-party site probably will not let you use this functionality. If you are the web developer, you should be able to search for “file upload” in your platform documentation; for example, Perl users will find file upload is supported in the CGI.pm module.

At this point, if what needs to be done appears too difficult, you should consider whether implementing file upload is really what you need, and be wary that there are many security and complexity issues that you may have to handle. What will you do with the files once they arrive? Where will you store them? What if, either accidentally or maliciously, a client tries to send you a huge file? What if the file never makes it to its destination? In cases like this, you may wish to consider an alternate provider to give you file upload capabilities. One use case was, for example, allowing your users to upload a picture or avatar of themselves. There are plenty of services to do that, such as Gravatar; your users might even prefer to see you integrate with Facebook or Twitter.

In client software

Nowadays, it is quite normal for programs other than web browsers to connect to web pages. If you are a developer for software that runs on smartphones, you may find yourself in a position where you need to upload a file to a web site without launching the browser. Again, the precise details vary depending on the platform you are using. Java developers may be familiar with the Apache HttpClient collection of utilities. Creating an HTTP POST using HttpClient is well-documented elsewhere, and a quick search for multipart posting highlights a MultipartPostMethod that is deprecated. The correct way in this case to post is to build a MultipartRequestEntity made up of one or more Part objects; a Part object can be configured to contain, among many other things, a file. A call to setRequestEntity() on the POST method will do exactly what is needed in this case.

What next?

Being able to upload a file to your web site opens the doors to some exceptionally powerful functionality, but the details seem to be a bit sparse online. You may go ahead and check RFC 1867, the original proposal dating back to 1995, and you may wish to try out this functionality in as many different browsers as you can find. You will most likely be surprised at the differences in look and feel. However, it is a good tool to have available in your web development arsenal, and the techniques illustrated here come in useful, even in modern web development environments.