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To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

(OP)
I have a client who wants to put his product catalog online. He has 25 categories of building supplies. Each category has various sizes. The largest category is 300 items. But the total number of items is around 1,000. He does NOT plan on selling the items online. He is not a wholesaler but a contractor.
Although I have build databases (not web based) in the past I think it is the way to go.
He has everything in an excel spreadsheet including a link to the image.
What would you recommend as an approach? I am on a mac but his host is godaddy so php/mysql is an option. They support Navicat for database management which looks like an option for importing the excel data.
Basically it will look like a catalog/shopping cart with prices but they can't "shop online".
My other option would be to just build it as an html page with small thumbnails that would be clickable to an larger image. Tedious but there would be few changes in product mostly additions and very few deletions.
Mostly looking for opinions on which way to go.

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

[ ] 
One possible way would to write a program to extract the data from the database and generate the HTML pages.  When the database changes, then regenerate the pages and upload.

That is what I did with my database.  The program I wrote keeps the database updated.  When I need to regenerate the pages and upload, I just tell the program to do it.  Regeneration and uploading is accomplished at the rate of 1400 pages per hour, a whole lot faster and far more efficient than doing it any other way, not to say anything about never having to worry about broken links.

 

mmerlinn

http://mmerlinn.com

"We've found by experience that people who are careless and sloppy writers are usually also careless and sloppy at thinking and coding. Answering questions for careless and sloppy thinkers is not rewarding." - Eric Steven Raymond

 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

CODE

a whole lot faster and far more efficient than doing it any other way
Or have a server side application create your pages on the fly from a single uploaded file as most E-commerce site do.  

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

(OP)
Both good ideas. Since the database won't change that often and even then it will be a few additions (one or two at a time). Since I am more of a front end person the SSI idea sounds more of a fit to me. Nearly all my sites are done in Dreamweaver using div's and css. I generally create a design in Photoshop, create my graphics, then build a template for the website in Dreamweaver. I've played with SSI but only little things nothing on this scale.
The only section that needs to be generated is the products section.
I hate to sound dumb but what kind of single uploaded file?
 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

It would depend on what your server side script can decode the best. You will also have to upload the product images too but that is a simple FTP job.

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

(OP)
Thanks I think I am definitely on the right track...my host is ixwebhosting and they can pretty much handle most any script.
At this point the client has not put the images into excel but will if I ask him to.

Can you point me in the right direction as far as a sript goes?
 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Keep the images out of Excel!
For the number of images you require, store them on the server in a single directory. This makes it easier to update the images. Name the images the same as the product code to make your admin easier.
ie.
- Item Desc - Small green plastic thing
- Stock Code - SP67463
- Image Name - SP67463.jpg

With regard to a script to handle it, there are a number of shopping cart type apps out there which will do the job but I have no in depth knowledge of any of them.
I prefer to write my own so that any additional facilities can be easily added.  

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

(OP)
Images out of excel - that was my choice as well.
I did think of a shopping cart app but not one using ssi...most require php/mysql and although I started learning all about it, it got pushed to the side as "real" work came in.
Thanks again...now I know I can do this site without pulling my hair out.
 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Quote:

CODE

a whole lot faster and far more efficient than doing it any other way
Or have a server side application create your pages on the fly from a single uploaded file as most E-commerce site do.   

There is at least one problem with creating the pages on the fly - The search engines have a hard time indexing them.

mmerlinn

http://mmerlinn.com

"We've found by experience that people who are careless and sloppy writers are usually also careless and sloppy at thinking and coding. Answering questions for careless and sloppy thinkers is not rewarding." - Eric Steven Raymond

 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Quote:


There is at least one problem with creating the pages on the fly
That may have been a problem many years ago but if the pages are created correctly search engines have no problem indexing them.

Using this method for a product site makes searching for items or related groups of items much simpler than having to trawl through hundreds maybe thousands of pages. There is also less overhead on the server too, as you are storing a lot less data.

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

(OP)
I was just reading up on that and found http://www.liamdelahunty.com/tips/search_engines_read_php.php

sounds like I can use ssi and still have the site searchable by engines.

If I go this way what type of file will I be pulling from? Do I import the excel into MySql or make it some other type of simple database?

Talked to the client also and all images have the same name as the profile of each product.  

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?


Quote (mmerlinn):

There is at least one problem with creating the pages on the fly - The search engines have a hard time indexing them.

Problem? There's no problem at all. There are millions, if not billions of websites that user dynamically created pages (e.g. using ASP, JSP, PHP, etc) and probably a huge percentage of those have great SE coverage.

Search engines simply index the content they see presented to them on the front-end of a website... they care not how the pages are built.

Dan
 

Coedit Limited - Delivering standards compliant, accessible web solutions

Dan's Page @ Code Couch: http://www.codecouch.com/dan/

Code Couch Tech Snippets & Info: http://www.codecouch.com/
 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Ok.

I did a lot of testing of my hardcoded HTML pages against a competitor's ASPX pages.

As noted by others, everything is well indexed regardless of page type on both sites.

The ONLY difference I could find is that my pages were ALWAYS higher in the results regardless of whether I used the format "mmerlinn|xxx searchterm", "xxx|mmerlinn searchterm", "searchterm mmerlinn|xxx", or "searchterm xxx|mmerlinn" in the Google search box.

That does not make sense to me, but I am very happy that my pages trump the pages of a company with over 20 warehouses nationwide.

mmerlinn

http://mmerlinn.com

"We've found by experience that people who are careless and sloppy writers are usually also careless and sloppy at thinking and coding. Answering questions for careless and sloppy thinkers is not rewarding." - Eric Steven Raymond

 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

(OP)
That is good to know...I've learned a lot in the past two days about database driven sites...it is on my agenda to learn and has been for a while. Unfortunately, paying jobs take precedence over that and I have been non-stop busy since being laid off from my "real" job in November.
My client will be sending me a small part of his excel spreadsheet and the images that go with them so I can begin setting the database up.
I am still not sure what to charge for this site. I will be sending him a quote later today.  

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

CODE

mmerlinn|xxx searchterm
If you include 'mmerlinn' in your search term, of course you are going to be higher in the rankings than your competitors.

Show us a bare search term which finds your website.
 

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Quote:

CODE

mmerlinn|xxx searchterm
If you include 'mmerlinn' in your search term, of course you are going to be higher in the rankings than your competitors.

Show us a bare search term which finds your website.

I don't see how you figure that just because I use "mmerlinn|xxx" that that will always put me on top.  "xxx|mmerlinn" also puts me on top even though "mmerlinn" is now after "xxx".

Here are four different google searches all producing the same results with me at the top every time.

14040514 wit|mmerlinn
14040514 mmerlinn|wit
wit|mmerlinn 14040514
mmerlinn|wit 14040514

I did hundreds of similar searches.  As long as the search term was somewhere on my website, my website was ALWAYS higher than wit's website.

Using ONLY the search term "14040514" the results put my pages at #3 and #5 on the FIRST page.  Wit's page is #4 on the ELEVENTH page, or at rank #104. Similar searches consistently produce the similar results.

Since most people never go past page three of the search results, the #104 position is basically worthless in generating sales for my competitor.

If you do a search with "14040514 transmission" I am now at #1 and #3.  Wit is now at #4 right behind me.  Still good positioning for me relative to wit.  Now wit can siphon some sales from me.

mmerlinn

http://mmerlinn.com

"We've found by experience that people who are careless and sloppy writers are usually also careless and sloppy at thinking and coding. Answering questions for careless and sloppy thinkers is not rewarding." - Eric Steven Raymond

 

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Search for 14040514 mmerlinn - puts your site higher than them

Search for 14040514 wit - puts their site higher than yours.
I would expect this as your website name is mentioned in the search term.

Search for 14040514 and your site is higher than theirs but this has nothing to do with how the page was created.
The search term appears several times on the target page and is not buried away in the middle of a complicated description like theirs is.

Your experiments are have no logical basis making your static/dynamic page argument pure guesswork.
Neither website has been optimised anywhere near to full SEO and both sites are missing a vital complex search option which allows visitors to find the exact part they are looking for with the minimum of information.

I assume you deal with mostly trade customers who have the manuals and therefore access to the exact part number.
 

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Hi

Searching for "14040514" on the wittrans site using their own search tool gives no result. Are you sure "14040514" is relevant keyword to demonstrate anything ? I have a feeling that most of the potential customers will search for something more common, like transmission mmerlin OR wittrans or 350C mmerlin OR wittrans.

( The above is just theory. I have no idea what those sites are talking about. )

Feherke.
http://free.rootshell.be/~feherke/

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Only people in the know would search for a part number anyway.
Both sites are missing out on the amateur mechanic's market but maybe they are more bother than they are worth.

A bit like amateur web designers perhaps?

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

Quote:

Search for 14040514 mmerlinn - puts your site higher than them

Search for 14040514 wit - puts their site higher than yours.
I would expect this as your website name is mentioned in the search term.

Duh.  Of course this happens.  Why wouldn't it?  If you put their name in and not ours, the search engines have NO reason to rank us above them and vice versa.  But if you put BOTH names in, "wit|mmerlinn" or "mmerlinn|wit" or "mmerlinn|wittrans" or "wittrans|mmerlinn", we are ranked above them every time regardless of which you put first.

Your comment about the website name does have some merit, though, as their website name is "wittrans" and not "wit" like I originally used.  However, even with their actual website name, the results are the same.

Quote:

Search for 14040514 and your site is higher than theirs but this has nothing to do with how the page was created.
The search term appears several times on the target page and is not buried away in the middle of a complicated description like theirs is.

Where the search term is located on a page has nothing to do with how it is ranked by the search engines.  How many times on a page will make a difference in ranking but not sure how much nor how effective.  All I know is that the significant search terms (those used by the potential customers) in ANY location on our pages rank higher than the same search terms on theirs.  And that IS a function of how the page is designed and created.

Quote:

Your experiments are have no logical basis making your static/dynamic page argument pure guesswork.
Neither website has been optimised anywhere near to full SEO and both sites are missing a vital complex search option which allows visitors to find the exact part they are looking for with the minimum of information.

Considering that we get customers EVERY DAY telling us that our site was ranked #1 in their search results, often the ONLY result on the page, WHY would we want to WASTE time with SEO???  Especially since SEO keeps changing every time the search engines tweek their engines.  For this site I see SEO as a total waste of time.  As for WIT's site, depending on their target audience, it may also be a waste of time.

WIT's search tool does leave something to be desired since their site is somewhat hard and slow to navigate once you get there.  Getting to their site via the search engines, from my point of view, is a much more important thing.  If you can't find them in the first place, what good is a search tool?

Search tools are vital ONLY if the website is hard to navigate or so complex that the potential customer gets frustrated trying to find whatever is needed.  I have never put a search tool on the our site because by the time potential customers get to the site they have usually already found the exact page they need.  Why do I need to duplicate what Google and the other very good search engines do already?  The main issue is finding the parts needed.  The search engines already do that very well without any help.

When I check Google WebMaster Tools, most significant search terms used land our pages on the first page, a few on the second page, and occasionally on the third page.  Seldom do our pages land after the third page.

What IS needed on our site, and in some areas on WIT's site, are detailed exploded pictures of the parts.  It will probably never happen here.  Buying the needed pictures is cost prohibitive.  Making the pictures is time prohibitive.

What are also needed on both sites are pictures of the parts.  They list 30,000 parts on their site.  We list about 25,000.  At 15 minutes per picture, there is no way either of us can justify spending over 3 man-years of time making it happen.  As for us, if we need to take a picture for some other reason, I then add it to the site.  Otherwise, I don't,

Quote:

I assume you deal with mostly trade customers who have the manuals and therefore access to the exact part number.

As noted below, MOST of our customers are NOT trade customers.  Most are private parties and, except for the internet, most have no access to detailed trade manuals nor the exact part number.  Quite a few trades people have no idea how to find part numbers short of calling the new car dealers and even then can't get the numbers if the dealer has superceded them.

Quote:

Searching for "14040514" on the wittrans site using their own search tool gives no result. Are you sure "14040514" is relevant keyword to demonstrate anything ?

"14040514" is probably the most common way people look for this particular part since that is the number on their old broken part.  WIT's search tool is not very good in my view.  

Quote:

I have a feeling that most of the potential customers will search for something more common, like transmission mmerlin OR wittrans or 350C mmerlin OR wittrans.

Some potential customers start out with searches like "transmission" and the like.  Most of the time this produces too many results, at times over 200 million hits.  So they narrow their search to the numbers they find on the transmission, on the car, or on the part, often times adding "transmission", "transfer case", "bell housing", etc. to eliminate results from non-automotive websites.

Because "transmission" can mean many things in English, like "transmission of electricity", "transmission of fax pages", "automobile transmission", and so on, I don't see any reason to try to optimize our site for anything containing the word "transmission."  The pool of possibilities is simply too large.

Searching for generic words like "transmissions", "350C", and so on results in way too many hits that have no meaning at all for the searcher.

Quote:

Only people in the know would search for a part number anyway.
Both sites are missing out on the amateur mechanic's market but maybe they are more bother than they are worth.

Wrong.  MOST people looking for these parts find them using various types of numbers, in this case the actual number on the part they need.  We have never taken the time to do the exact percentages, but based on the types of calls we get I would guess around 80% or more.

WIT may be missing out on the amateur mechanic's market - I have never asked Kenny.  Again we have never taken the time to do the numbers, but I would guess that over 80% of our calls come from back-yarders and similar people while the rest come from new car dealers, automotive shops, racers, and other professionals.  Yes, you read that correctly.  I did say NEW car dealers.  Believe it or not, even they call us looking for parts to fix cars brought in to their dealerships.  And they always find us by using the part numbers available to them since this website is the ONLY advertising we do.

Quote:

A bit like amateur web designers perhaps?

LOL.  I know that was an attempted slam against me.  However, you need to look up the words "professional" and "amateur."  I am a professional - I get PAID for doing this.  Therefore your attempted slam did not work.

And the ONLY thing that matters to us is that the website DOES WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO.  It may not be pretty.  It may not be clogged with bloated images.  It may not have any niceties that some may think are needed.  It may not be designed with "modern" standards.  But it does the job it is designed to do - It brings us ALL of our customers in the most cost-effective way known to us.  Where else can you budget ONLY $400 per YEAR in advertising costs that brings in potential customers at a cost of PENNIES per customer?  And the best part is that this site does it BETTER than ANY of our competitors WORLDWIDE, even those with MILLION dollar IT budgets.




 

mmerlinn

http://mmerlinn.com

"We've found by experience that people who are careless and sloppy writers are usually also careless and sloppy at thinking and coding. Answering questions for careless and sloppy thinkers is not rewarding." - Eric Raymond

Poor people do not hire employees.  If you soak the rich, who are you going to work for?

RE: To Database or Not to Database That is the ?

The amateur web designer comment was just a bit of tongue in cheek, sorry if it has been on yor mind for the past 6 months.

I still think that a database based solution would be preferable for your business as it allows you to easily create an individual page for each item of stock. The part number and any other relevant number are included in the title of the page and that leads to excellent SEO rankings.

Keith
www.studiosoft.co.uk

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