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 site.
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 understood.
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?
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 servicesite 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.
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