How to Export ? - Part 13 Managing Web-Site Content

Content, they say, is the king. It is the most important part of your web-site - primary reason why customers visit it. Look, appearance, presentation all are important - but what finally matters is the quality of content.

Just as packaging alone can not make a product winner without quality - web-site design and presentation becomes ineffective in the absence of quality content.

What is 'Good' Content ?

No matter if it's a business web-site or a personal page, you have to give people a reason to stay on your site - the first question the visitor is going to ask - "what's in it for me?"

That doesn't mean you have to give away freebies - programs, books, tickets, holidays etc. etc. - it does mean that you have to offer something. That "something" could be:
  • Information
  • Utility (bulletin board, search engine, directory etc.)

  • Entertainment

  • Advice

  • Help with a problem

  • Opportunities to network with like minded people

  • Links to useful sites

In the context of business - the content must have "something" perceived as 'useful' by visitors. Perception of 'usefulness' may stem from satisfaction due to - time saving, cost cutting, increased efficiency, greater sales, better customer relation etc. The hallmark of a successful web-site are:
  • Visitors find the content 'useful'

  • Contains information that is unique or at least hard to find

  • Contains fresh information (i.e. updated regularly)

  • Easy to locate through search engine and other means

One way to judge usefulness of your web-site content is to get into visitor's shoes and critically examine it from customers' viewpoint.

How to Manage Web Site Content

Once you decide kind, extent and format of information that qualifies as content for your web-site - the next step is to look at the technical side of it. There are several ways of rendering this content over your web-space and accordingly, you web-site could be :
  • Static Web-Site

  • Dynamic web-site

  • Mix of both

Static Web-Site

As the name implies - the content of a static web-site remains static and does not change unless you replace it manually with fresh one. Created mainly through html pages - this kind of web-site was prevalent during early days of Internet.

Apart from simplicity - static web pages are search engine friendly and less demanding on server resources. As a result, they load faster and are easy to locate. Such a web-site can be developed comparatively faster and at lower cost as it does not require high degree of technical skill.

However, the major drawback of static web-site is its maintenance. Any change in content means updating concerned web pages off-line and then loading these to remote server using FTP (File Transfer Protocol).

Though technologies like CSS (Cascading Style Sheet), Javascript etc. help in managing uniformity in look and feel of a static web-site - there is no escape from manual work when it comes to change in content

Dynamic Web-Site

Content of a dynamic web-site is stored in a database and rendered as web-pages whenever demanded by web-site visitors. Apart from easy management of content - design of a web page can be customized as per visitor requirement.

Such database-driven dynamic web-sites are very useful for applications where content changes very frequently and require high degree of customization.

Development of such web-site requires high degree of technical skill and server resources. One may opt for special software called Content Management System (CMS) for developing such a web-site or employ programmers and designers - development cost will significantly higher than static web-site in either case.

Apart from resource-hungry and slow - biggest drawback of dynamic web-site is its incompatibility with search engines. Unlike static web-sites where content is present in the form of physical web-pages - dynamic web-sites have only virtual pages in the form of database records.

As a result, while search engine robots happily index millions of static pages with convenience and ease - they find databases almost impenetrable and hence out of reach for search engines.


So, where does the debate end ? Do I go for static web-site or dynamic ?

Well, the answer lies in your requirements. If high search engine ranking is important for your business (as it is with most SME manufacturers and exporters) - kiss goodbye to dynamic web-sites.

If content management as well as high search engine ranking both are critical for your business - make your web-site a mix of both. You can achieve this by segregating the content in two parts - static and dynamic.

Another solution is to have best of both worlds - keep your content in database and generate static web pages through software. This way, you can manage content and achieve high search engine ranking, but last minute customization will take a back seat. Finally - it is your requirement and budget that decide the shape of your web-site.

Happy and Productive Surfing

Dr. Amit K Chatterjee

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Source: FAIDA - Newsletter on Business Opportunties from India and Abroad Vol: 6, Issue 13 ; September 30' 2005

Author : Dr. Amit K. Chatterjee
(Amit worked in blue-chip Indian and MNCs for 15 years in various capacities like Research and Information Analysis, Market Development, MIS, R&D Information Systems etc. before starting his e-commerce venture in 1997. The views expressed in this columns are of his own. He may be reached at )

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