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Is web hosting really free?

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008
by Sue

A free hosting service for your e-commerce’s web site can sound be a dream come true. You get abundant space to set up a web site and customer service to boot. However, there are some potential pitfalls to opting for free hosting.

Many free hosting servers don’t have vast data backup. This means that if something happens to your host’s server, you can lose a trove of customer data. Sure, you can backup this data on your own, but babysitting your free hosting service will waste a lot of your time and energy — resources which you could bill to clients and/or use to nurture your company.

Moreover, free hosting companies may have design and expansion limitations. You may develop good initial responses with auto responders and data cachets only to discover a few months down the line that your site is bursting at the britches, slowing down due to volume traffic, and running aground of design and engineering flaws.

Sure, you can spruce up your site or even add data caches to it to make it functional for larger projects, but if your start with a shoddy product, you can almost certainly expect maintenance glitches and trouble spots to emerge.

Remember, a free hosting operation often requires that you put in a lot of the elbow grease to get your site up and running. Sure, a turnkey hosting approach may cost more, but, by putting your site into the hands of professionals, you free up your time, and you gain a certain peace of mind. Thus, when choosing between free hosting and turnkey services, look not just at the cost benefit calculus associated with your company’s short-term projections but also at your five-year schedule.

This isn’t to say that free hosting services are necessarily bad — they are just typically more feeble and vulnerable. When you are making an edifice to serve customers, your client relationships are at stake. So, if you lose data, founder on orders, or otherwise hamper your business development as a result of some kind of free hosting gaff, you pay not just the costs of lost business but also the costs of permanently dented relationships.

 

 

Your Web Site and Your First Impression

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

The first sense your web site makes is absolutely critical to your e-business action. Studies claim to have alienated the interest span of the average web surfer. These studies point to a decrease in overall attention span from around 8 to 10 seconds several years ago to around 3 to 4 seconds today. Given the shrinking amount of time you have available to channel user interest, you have to make whatever loads on your page count — and count big.

Apart from a handful of exempt businesses, this means avoiding splash introduction pages, cutting out pop-up ads, and engineering your web site with 56K modem users in mind as your base customers. Battle tests your web site loading arrangements with different people. Do your friends and family wait for your page to load out of sympathy to you? Do associates praise your pretty graphics and large text sizes? If you are not getting objective info from your inner circle, you may need to subject your web site to third party testing. Graphic design studios, artists, and some other e-businesses which rely on lots of flash and style may put splash pages near at the beginning of their web sites to wow potential customers. This practice can be acceptable, provided that your clients use broadband technology and expect to be inundated with animations upfront. That said, you should still be sparing in how much animation you put on your web site.

Moreover, take care to make sure that your main page conveys concise, exciting, and articulate information about your product or your service. You don’t have to fill your text with exclamation points, capital letters, bolded words, and colors to get people excited. If your language in and of itself isn’t enough to move customers’ hearts and minds, it still won’t be enough once you’ve finished glittering it up.  

Finally, make sure that your site navigates well. Once you’ve gotten past that 3 to 4 second mark, you still must make a good second impression to retain visitor interest. Make navigation bars accessible and easy to use. Don’t put all of your text and/or images on your homepage. Include outgoing links, contact information, and a search bar for your site. Make sure that the first impression that your web site gives after it loads will be just as relevant to expert visitors as it will be for first timers.

Cost Effective Online Marketing Strategy

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
by Sue

 

How do you build a cost-effective Internet marketing strategy? Given that the Internet is such a young advertising medium, it’s possible to take many wrong steps, and it’s also possible to innovate and drastically change how the industry looks at marketing consumers online. Observe the development of web platforms
 

With a defined cocktail of creative innovation, savvy budgeting, and flexibility, you can survive and grow even in a tempestuous online atmosphere.
 

Test Different Online Marketing Methods 

 

One philosophy suggests that small business website owners should avoid “diving in.” Don’t spend lots of your advertising capital upfront, explore a host of ad ideas. Statistically, you’re simply not going to achieve your maximum ad potential right off the bat.
 

By trying out diverse kinds of campaigns, different online ad schemes, and even different website aesthetics, you’ll have statistics to light your way for future development. Better measurements give way to more precise financials.
 

Don’t worry about conquering your entire demographic slice with your limited ad budget. Focus on consumers who will convert to sales. There are numerous ways for an online ad campaign to be successful.
 

If the funds you spend on advertising fuels enough customer purchases to pay for your ads and then some, you have “succeeded.” On the other hand, if you create a brand awareness that rearranges to your “real world” stores and generates an ROI there, you have succeeded as well, even if your online site doesn’t turn a hefty profit.
 

Define Your Online Goals
 

Set your goals before you start spending money or getting third parties involved. Do you want simply to add your brick and mortar brand awareness? Do you need to sell wares to clear your inventory for an upcoming season?
 

Do you need to gain a foothold in a competitive, time-sensitive industry? Your goal should inform your strategy. Don’t get caught up in the excitement over the new bells and whistles available to internet advertisers, figure out what you want from the Net, and then work backwards to draft strategies to make that “want” come about.
 

Practice Patience
 

Finally, realize that making a long-term cost-effective Internet marketing strategy can take time. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Even if the Internet is a “fast” advertising medium, there is a learning curve involved. Don’t shut down your operations or switch “advertising modes” too quickly, simply give your techniques some time to work.

 

Why a Newsletter in website?

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008
by Ann

 Even if your web site is not-so-well known, it may be help you to create a newsletter for repeat customers. Studies show that web site newsletters breed brand loyalty and repeat buying. Moreover, putting together a newsletter is easy to do, fast, and fun. So here are some general purpose tactics for organizing your newsletter and getting it out to past and future customers.

Build up a mission statement for the newsletter before you take any action. Recognize your target readers and what you are trying to get these readers to do. If you are just putting out an informational periodical about your industry, that’s fine. But if you are looking galvanize sales at your web site or your offline store; you need to acknowledge this — not just to yourself, but also to your customers. Being straightforward about the purpose of your newsletter will encourage people to trust you and potentially make more purchases.

Don’t send your newsletter “blind.” Include author attribution, contact information, your web site address, your email, and other relevant info. Remember that even brand loyalists won’t necessarily read every newsletter. People tend to skim mass emails for interesting tidbits or facts. You need to engage your newsletter readers almost immediately. Don’t dive into a discussion about your web site-based charity accomplishments — unless that information is the raison d’etre of your newsletter.

Instead, catch your recipients’ attentions by publishing an extraordinary fact or story. Make your newsletter germane. Make it different from other sources of information out in the Internet. Make it humorous, if possible, particularly if you are retailing products to young consumers. Keep it as brief as it needs to be. If you can cut the newsletter down to just two pages, do so. Make subscription and unsubscription easy for your visitors. If a customer has to go out of his or her way to unsubscribe, he or she may hold a grudge your against your web site and refuse to patronize your e-business again. That said, you don’t want to be too discriminating about who subscribes to your newsletter in the first place. Encourage everyone who shows up at your web site or buys from your web site to sign up as an automatic “benefit” of partnering with you. Don’t be ashamed of asking for signups. Be direct, be respectful, and be clear in your objective always.

SQL Server(2005) Vs. MySQL

Monday, May 5th, 2008
by Sck

Microsoft SQL Server is far from being the only database management system for Windows. Among SQL Server’s contenders are commercial applications like Oracle and freebies like MySQL. But free availability has left many people questioning how well an open source system stacks up against its commercial counterparts, and they’re often surprised to find out how solid it is in production.

In this tip, I’ll examine in detail MySQL (now in its 5.0.22 revision) and compare its features to Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and 2005. Both are powerful DBMSs, widely used, with characteristics that make them attractive to different audiences.

Cost and licensing

The most observable and lasting difference between MySQL and SQL Server is the price attached to it. MySQL and its attendant client libraries are free under the GNU Public License, though the system is also released under a more proprietary license when needed. Because of its low cost and broad support, many commercial Web hosts use MySQL as the default database application. Also, there are no arbitrary limits on the product’s usage, such as the number of seats you can apply it to in a single installation.

MySQL’s licensing has occasionally led to problems. The open source project Asterisk PBX, for instance, eventually found that the licensing it used was incompatible with MySQL’s licensing, and MySQL support had to be reduced. However, for the most part, many people are willing to hew to MySQL’s licensing in order to use it, and they have contributed a broad range of add-ons and features to the product.

In contrast, SQL Server is an avowedly commercial and proprietary application. The price for its licensing is based on how many physical processors (”per socket”) you plan to run the software on, and different editions of the program are available depending on the scope of your needs. For instance, support for more than four physical processors is only available in the SQL Server Enterprise Edition.

Microsoft is sensing the throat cut competition from yields like MySQL. The software giant freshly made available SQL Server 2005 Express Edition, a free — though not open source - edition of SQL Server that can be deployed on a server or packaged with an application. Express has some limitations: It can only use one physical CPU; it cannot address more than 1 GB of system memory for its use; it has less effective processing for more than eight concurrent connections; and it can only support a maximum database size of 4 GB. That said, it supports many of the most useful features of SQL Server at large , such as full-text indexing (which MySQL also supports out of the box), internal data encryption, native XML support and integration with Microsoft Update for patches and revisions.

SQL Server is available in a number of different packages. SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition (four-processor support, no database or memory limitations) is included as part of Windows Small Business Server 2003. This makes SQL Server an appealing choice for those already making an investment in SBS2003. You can download a full version of SQL Server 2005, SQL 2006. Another key point of comparison is that MySQL is multi-platform, which includes Windows, while SQL Server is Windows-only and will most likely remain that way.

Functionality

For a long time MySQL came under fire for not supporting some of the most common features of other relational databases, such as transactions or stored procedures. These features and a host of other important ones were introduced in the 5.0 revision, silencing a good deal of criticism. Despite this , MySQL has enjoyed broad adoption by a number of high-profile users — Craigslist, Digg, Friendster, LiveJournal, Slashdot, Travelocity and Wikipedia all use MySQL extensively and deeply.

SQL Server’s aspects set were built for and have been adopted largely by small to medium-sized businesses, and it has been expanding into larger applications over time. Barclays Capital, Hilton Hotels, Hyundai Motors, JetBlue, NASDAQ and the Tesco grocery chain are some of the outfits with SQL Server deployments.

MySQL has the ability to use multiple storage engines for individual tables, so you can choose the most effective one for a given table. One such engine is InnoDB (now the property of Oracle), designed specifically for high reliability — sometimes at the expense of speed. SQL Server uses its own proprietary storage system for everything, but it maintains multiple safeguards against data loss. Both SQL Server and MySQL can run in clusters for high availability.

One of the greatest advantages SQL Server provides is its broad range of native data analysis and reporting tools. SQL Server Reporting Services is one of the most prominent and widely used, and it’s available with SQL Server Express Edition as a free download. Third parties have written similar tools for MySQL, such as Crystal Reports XI and Actuate BIRT, both commercial products.

Implementation

Another key practical difference between SQL Server and MySQL is how the two programs interpret the SQL-92 standard. SQL Server uses an implementation of SQL-92 called T-SQL, which has some additional proprietary syntax to handle transactions and stored procedures. Other proprietary elements in T-SQL are intended to make certain computations easier. For instance, you can use the TOP keyword to restrict a given query to the first x elements returned.

MySQL uses ANSI SQL 99, but it supports many of the same functional behaviors as SQL Server — triggers, cursors, updatable views, stored procedures, nested selects, Unicode support and so on. Consequently, an application written specifically for MySQL or SQL Server cannot be switched from one platform to the other without a certain amount of rewriting.

Here is a good independent comparison of SQL language implementations. It compares SQL Server and MySQL and many others.

Conclusions

The single major motive to prefer one given database product over another is suitability to needs — and both MySQL and SQL Server are written to address very different sets of needs. If you are going to write or support applications designed for SQL Server, Microsoft-specific features or primarily for private use, and the cost is not as much of a concern, SQL Server makes a lot of sense. If you’re working on a tight budget, or you’re creating something that may well be ported to multiple platforms, MySQL is a good place to begin with.

    




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