Many new Web Designers are eager to post their web site with all the
bells and whistles. These can include Counters, Forms, local Search
Engines, Visitor Statistics, Animation and much more.
How do you create these features and add them to your web page?
Do you even want to and what problems may be encountered?
There are two significantly different approaches to these objectives.
The method you use will depend entirely on the type of Internet
presence you are trying to create and your resources.
A web page counter is a great tool for determining the number of
hits on a web page. Unfortunately it is also very limited in the
information it can provide and is consequently rarely used by
professional web sites. Putting a counter on a web page may imply
to many of your visitors that you do not have a professional web
This is a somewhat elitist notion. In other words, if you are not
trying to create a money making business site then why worry about
it? Most people would not be concerned about purchasing a
consumer TV set simply because people would know that they were
not a national TV network.
Professional sites use Site Stats programs that are often provided by
their ISP when their Domain is hosted. (see last weeks newsletter at
http://www.IMSWebTips.com/issue20top1.htm if you don't
understand these terms). They will also write custom programs in
Perl or C++ to process and interpret data obtained from forms while
expensive software will be purchased to perform special e-
commerce tasks or add specialty content. Professional sites can be
very expensive and time consuming to create and maintain..
Fortunately, a lot of specialty content is available that does not
require the resources of a multi-national conglomerate to use. In
many instances the content will perform quite adequately for most
users provided some caution is used and its limitations are
Where do you get this kind of content and how do you use it?
Specialty Web Page content is available from many providers. In
most but not all cases, it is free. When provided free, the provider is
hoping to make money by displaying adds to the visitors that their
content will attract. This may or may not present a problem for you.
How does it work?
Usually you will visit the content provider's site and register with
or a CGI form that you will then paste into the code for your web
The two most common problems that you may encounter when
adding third party content are Invalid Code and Slow Links. Invalid
code is usually caused when you do not cut and paste the code
correctly from the service provider to your Web Page. Missing just
a ">" can cause your entire web page to fail. It is less likely but
possible that the service provider's code is invalid. In either case, it
is important that you test any imbedded code thoroughly.
A less obvious problem can be caused due to a slow link to the
provider's site. Most code obtained from a service provider will link
back to the service provider. This is necessary in many cases
depending upon the service being obtained. A delay finding the service
site or downloading a graphic will increase the load time of your
page. This can be quite significant if the service provider's site goes
down. Again, you should test the load time of your web page to
ensure that it remains acceptable.
Here are links to a few sites with many different "Web Master
Resources" I found on a quick search. Resources they provide range
from Hit Counters, to Site Stats, to Message Boards to Guest Books
and much more. Please be cautioned that I am not familiar with
most of them and can not vouch for them. Although I don't know
otherwise, it is possible some services are little more than a front for
Spam. If you know anything Good or Bad about these outfits or
other outfits or can recommend a reliable source for Web
Resources, please let me know.