One way to make sites more interactive is by making their content more dynamic. Putting some or all of a site's content into a database allows content to be delivered on the fly to users based on their specific requests.
Although databasing a site often creates a much better way to display content, it can be a costly addition. Our May Web Price Index found that on average, our developers charged more for database programming per hour than any other service.
Some prohibitive costs
Besides the manpower issues, the software and hardware costs can be prohibitive. Licensing software from companies such as Oracle and Sybase can cost marketers tens of thousands of dollars. Some high-end database applications necessitate the purchase of new servers as well.
Marketers will see savings from databasing in the long run, though. Because the information is stored separately, the content can be updated without having to reprogram static HTML pages.
"They will see cost savings based on the amount of development needed later," said Ben Marshall a senior producer at New York-based Kirshenbaum Bond & Partners.
He said that certain parts of a site, especially catalogs, are best done with databases because they can be updated quickly, easily and by the marketers themselves without having to engage the developers for every change.
Once the content is in a database on the back end, costs of changing the front end are also reduced.
An easy form of a database involves storing information in flat text files. This is a cheaper option for most marketers than investing in new software and hardware. However it is much less versatile than the more expensive, server-intensive solutions.
ACME Sprockets, our small hypothetical marketer, looked to this option to create a database of its visitors. It wants to ask users to fill out a form on the Web site. It plans to put the information collected into a database for future use (see next month's Web Price Index).
Small sites will pay $8,000
This month's survey finds that ACME could expect to pay a median of $8,000 to add this feature to its site. However the demographic information it gains about its visitors could prove invaluable in terms of generating sales leads.
Investments R Us not only wants to add some databased content, but needs a Web-based way to input that content. This ease of updating content is one of the key advantages of databases.
The company could expect to pay $23,000 to add this feature.
Blockmonster had already purchased database software and servers for some of its earlier projects. Now it needs to devise an easy way to enter a lot of content into that database quickly. Once entered, its Web pages could call individual items out of the database and provide them to the consumer as needed.
This kind of server/database interaction can provide versatile custom content without having to design new pages for each possible combination.
Blockmonster can expect to pay a median of $35,200 to add and integrate this into their site.
Correction: The July Web Price Index on browsers incorrectly reported the low price for the small site as $12,000. The actual low price was $1,200.