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Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

HOW EASY IS IT TO BUILD A WEB PAGE?

Posted by Tim Bryce on June 14, 2010

I’m often asked this question by friends and business acquaintances as they know I have been in the systems business for a number of years. My pat answer to them is simply, “It depends.” Some people think their “whiz-kid” son or daughter can bang something out rather quickly, and maybe they can, but will it really do the job for them?

I say, “It depends,” because it is ultimately up to the type of business or organization you have and what you want to communicate. I categorize web pages into two types: Static and Dynamic. Static means it is a simple page where people can look up basic information for reference purposes. Dynamic refers to a web page which provides for more user interaction, such as to pose questions, place orders, participate in surveys, etc.

If you have a simple business organization and all you want to do is list your company’s name and address, then I would say, Yes, little Joey can probably whip something together for you. Static web pages are great for basic information, but because they are not updated too often, they do not encourage return visitors. However, this may not be important if all you are trying to do is take a “Yellow Pages” approach to listing your business. If you need something a little more sophisticated though, No, little Joey probably won’t be able to handle it and you will waste a lot of money getting to where you want to go.

Static web pages can be easily produced using common Word Processing utilities, desktop publishing tools, or manually using some simple HTML tags (Hyper Text Markup Language). Dynamic pages require a little more oomph though, requiring special design tools and programming talent; e.g., Java, JavaScript, PHP, XML, ColdFusion, etc. All of this obviously costs more than what you’re paying little Joey.

I find most companies go into a web design project rather naively. Frankly, I think you should go into it with a more structured approach, such as requirements definition (including a Table of Contents), prototype graphical appearance and navigation, and complete the assignment accordingly. Further, I tell people to think “virtually,” whereas they may have historically felt constrained in publishing sales literature, a web page has no practical limitations. However, I caution them to avoid the “War and Peace” phenomenon which tends to alienate users who, in most situations, want to quickly lookup answers to their questions.

Because of the spin from I.T. vendors, there is also a general perception that web page design is easy. Consequently, companies become impatient for results. Actually, web page design is no different than the design of anything; the greater the complexity, the longer it is going to take, which is why it is not a bad idea to use Project Managers on major web design projects.

So, how easy is it to build a web page? Actually, it is rather simple, but the real question should be, “How easy is it to build an EFFECTIVE web page?” Just about anyone familiar with a computer can produce a web page, but building something that truly works for you requires more skill. True, there are some slick design tools out there, but there is no substitute for experience and polished skills, not to mention some design standards as well.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

COMING IN JULY: “Tin Heads” – where transportation merges with communications. What is Bryce up to now?

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PASSWORDS

Posted by Tim Bryce on January 29, 2010

In this age of the Internet, we have all learned the necessity of using passwords to safeguard our identity, our credit cards and bank accounts, travel planning, etc. Come to think of it, just about everything on the Internet now requires a password, even if it’s free. They can get rather voluminous and difficult to remember, particularly if you have no control over the assignment of the password. Unless we are allowed to use a single password, which a lot of people do, it becomes a real headache to commit all of our passwords to memory. Consequently, we write them down on scrap paper and store the list away so we can reference it in the event we forget them (which seems to happen frequently). We don’t keep them on the Internet or our own local computer as we are frightened a hacker will somehow break in and steal the list.

Selecting a password is a very personal thing. Some companies suggest using the name of a favorite pet, a mother’s maiden name, a favorite movie or book, a school mascot, or whatever. I don’t believe many people use such passwords though and, instead, invent some rather interesting and unique passwords, using key nicknames, dates, items close to their heart, or their favorite character in such movies as “Star Wars,” “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings.” Sometimes a password becomes so secretive a person may actually forget it which becomes rather frustrating particularly when it involves the processing of a financial transaction.

I find it amusing when some web pages test the “strength” of a password, meaning it should be made more complicated and as idiotic as possible to memorize. Instead of something as simple as “seabiscut,” they insist you change it to “SeaBiscut9xr3” which is a nightmare to remember the proper keystrokes.

It would be nice if we had only one password, but unfortunately this is not the world we live in and also explains why we have to carry so many keys with us. You would think that someone would invent a computer program to store and maintain passwords. Indeed, such programs do exist, but I don’t think many people trust them with passwords for critical accounts. The thought would be that it might secretly pass the passwords and accounts off to a third party who would then be at liberty to invade your privacy and steal your money. Frankly, you would probably be better off inventing your own scheme for managing passwords and somehow encrypting them.

If we lived in a perfect world, we wouldn’t need passwords. People would respect the privacy of others and wouldn’t try to cheat them out of their hard earned money. Regrettably we live in an imperfect world and, as such, we will continue to write down passwords on the backs of envelopes.

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim’s columns, see:
http://www.phmainstreet.com/timbryce.htm

Copyright © 2010 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

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