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Is Your Web Host Your Friend? 8 Ways to Find Out

Your Web Hosting Provider Is Your Online Partner.

The web hosting company you choose to store your web site and provide access to the world wide web SHOULD be your friend – your business partner. In fact, your web host SHOULD put your interests first. After all, if your web business soars to success, your web host shares in that success with a stable client base.

If you’re hitting a home run with your URL, you aren’t going anywhere. You’ll stick with the host, the keywords, the site architecture – you won’t want to change. You’re a web success so don’t rock the boat.

Ah, but how do you know if your web host is truly your friend or just a service provider that charges your business credit card every three months. It’s not always easy to tell, but you can tell a lot by looking around a little before you sign up.

1. How long has the hosting company been around?

Look for a long history of web-based success. Look for a company that’s been delivering hosting services for more than 10 years and has management in place to handle an expanding client base efficiently.

A provider that looks after its clients sticks around and a company management with years of experience knows how to treat clients. They even know how to help clients achieve web success – something good for the client and good for the host – a win-win.

And good management knows that.

2. Does the web host kick you to more expensive pricing tier to get more disk space?

You rent disk space from your provider. Most hosts have pricing tiers based on the amount of disk space you take up on the server ( a server is nothing more than a big ol’ hard drive that has a bunch of web sites stored on it) and what “features” you’re willing to pay for.

Some hosts think it’s unfair to force you to pay more for space and features that you don’t need or intend to use. So, many top hosts have created a system that allows you to grow at your own pace without paying for a few more gigabytes that you won’t use, even though you’re paying an extra $50 a year for that dead zone.

Instead, buy space a gig at a time. And when it IS time to move up big time, you move to the next tier and actually save money. A good web host knows what’s good for web site owners, and these hosts customize their services to suit you, not the other way around.

So grow fast. Grow slow. A good provider will work with you every step of the way. The less-friendly providers don’t do this. You want more disk space, you move up to the next pricing tier, whether you need all that extra space or not. In other words, you’re wasting cash and when you’ve got a “penny jar” budget, every penny counts.

3. Does your web host offer free SSL security?

If you’re selling products or services, or if you’re collecting sensitive customer data (like credit card numbers) you need a secure web site – one that sends and receives data that’s encrypted so hackers can’t steal it and use it to buy and sell stolen stuff bought on the web.

A web host that DOESN’T much care about the success of your business will make you obtain your own SSL certification to create a secure web site capable of taking and keeping secure sensitive client data. And that costs money.

On the other hand, a web host that’s rooting for your success helps you achieve that success by letting you piggyback on their SSL certification. Your server is secure so your site is secure, thanks to a friendly web host and a pro-active partner in your success.

4. Does your web host require you to sign a long-term contract?

That tells you something right there. These companies want to lock you in for three months, six months, a year, knowing that you might not hit that home run. Even so, you’ll be paying those hosting fees for the full term of the contract.

If your web host is your friend – a partner that delivers value – there’s no need for a long-term contract. No need for any contract at all. Buy your server space and your features a month at a time. As you grow, you can add more space. Or, if you move on to something else, a client centric host isn’t going to FORCE you to keep paying for services you no longer need.

What kind of friend is that?

5. Real People Helping Real People

If you’re just starting out in the web world and launching your first e-venture, wouldn’t it be nice to have someone you could call with questions? Someone with endless patience? Someone who recognizes that your web success is the basis of the web host’s success?

And you want access to that friend, or a friendly, helpful sub, 24/7. You want someone to explain how to install a blog or to walk you through installing a secure checkout – one-step-at-a-time, even if it takes all night. (it won’t.)

A provider that wants to be friends offers that level of service for as little as seven bucks a month! Web hosts that are less “friendly” limit access to certain hours, they make you pay for the call and some don’t even have telephone customer or tech support. If you have a question or problem, you have to drop the web hosting company an e-mail and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, your web site isn’t getting built and your waiting for a long-distance email response from tech support – and guaranteed, 50% of the time the email answer doesn’t solve the problem.

Do a little research before you register your web site domain name and sign a long-term contract. Any new venture is a risk so work with a company that puts you first, answers questions (even the really stupid ones), provides downloadable guides to help you build and manage a quality web site.

Is your provider your friend? Well, not if they nickel-and-dime you to death. Not if they sell your email address to every “blue pill” pharmacy west of Beijing. Not if they lock you into a contract for a year.

Web Hosting Trends

If you’re just starting out in the world of the Internet and the world-wide-web, welcome to the fastest growing, most competitive and most exciting marketplace in the history of buying and selling. By definition, web hosting is a type of service that gives individuals and organizations the opportunity to make their own web site accessible via the world wide web. So, if you want to setup a web site on the Internet, you will need a web host. But after a quick search in Google, you will see that making the choice as to which type of web hosting you will need for your web site is no easy task.

Spend a little time searching the web and you’ll find a gazillion web hosting providers, review sites, data centers, collocation facilities, and even a company that offers domain name registration by a hunter of African elephants. They make it sound easy to build a profitable web business, but wake-up-call time: building a profitable, web-based business takes hard work, long hours and, most importantly, careful planning and selection of the right vendors. Sure, your neighbor brags about the dough she’s raking in on her maintenance-free web site, or your brother-in-law just bought a fancy car on his PPC earnings. People do earn money on the web, but it isn’t luck or good karma. It’s planning for success and if you’re just starting to think about taking the digital dive in to the world of the Internet, consider these questions and, oh yeah, develop the answers before you spend a penny on your vision.

Top 10 Web Hosting Trends:

    1. Green web hosting – Green or Eco-friendly web site hosting is a contemporary addition to the field that involves a given provider attempting to prove that they do not have negative impacts on the environment. Many webmasters are moving their web sites to a green web hosting provider not only to reduce their carbon footprint, but also to prove to their visitors that their company values the environment and is respectful to it.
    1. Cloud hosting – Cloud computing provides on-demand resources via a computer network and offers computation, software, data access, and storage services that do not require end-user knowledge of the physical location and configuration of the system that delivers the services. Parallels to this concept can be drawn with the electricity grid, where end-users consume power without needing to understand the component devices or infrastructure required to provide the service.
    1. VPS hosting – VPS hosting or Virtual Private Server hosting refers to a virtual machine for use exclusively by an individual customer of the service. A virtual machine is a completely independent and isolated operating system installation within a normal operating system. VPS hosting allows customers who need a dedicated machine and root access but are not yet ready to pay the large investment required for a dedicated machine.
    1. Carbon neutral hosting – Carbon neutral hosting refers to a service that has a net zero carbon footprint and allows webmasters the opportunity to achieve net zero carbon emissions resulting from the hosting of their online pages.
    1. Wind powered hosting – Wind powered web hosting refers to web hosting services that use wind energy from wind turbines, for example, converted into electricity.
    1. Solar powered web hosting – Solar powered refers to web hosting that is powered by radiant light and heat from the sun as opposed to traditional electricity.
    1. Joomla hosting – Joomla is an increasingly popular open-source content management system for publishing content on the world wide web. Joomla easily integrates with themes and extensions that are available from third-party sources that make designing and developing a sophisticated yet aesthetically pleasing web site simple. There are numerous commercial extensions available from the official Joomla! Extension Directory and quite a bit more available from other sources. Many providers offer the installation of Joomla on their accounts for no additional charge, but be fore-warned that not many provider have adequate experience needed in order to provide support to clients who are developing their site with Joomla.
    1. WordPress hosting – WordPress is an open-source blogging tool that is used by nearly thirteen percent of all web sites on the Internet. It is an easy to learn and use tool that makes setting up a web site simple due to its plug-in architecture and template system.
    1. Drupal hosting – Drupal is an open-source content management system that provides web developers the tools needed to customize Drupal’s behavior and appearance. Drupal offers a futuristic programming interface for developers, and no programming skills are required for basic web site installation and administration, but it is more complex than Joomla and WordPress. Drupal powers nearly two percent of all web sites on the Internet. Drupal offers modules, themes, and associated configuration settings that prepare Drupal for custom operation for sophisticated web developers.
  1. Reseller hosting – Reseller hosting refers to a provider that has purchased services with the intention of reselling them. Because of the multitude of resellers in the web hosting industry, it has become more difficult to differentiate a reseller from a web hosting provider that has their own dedicated servers. Reseller hosting has become increasingly popular as a means to generate income for web design firms.

Choosing a new web host for a redesign project

Many companies are re-designing their web site to remain competitive, to simplify the navigation and provide visitors with a more user-friendly experience. By redesigning a web site, companies have the opportunity to remain more competitive and stay current with new technology. And by offering a better web site – voila – simpler navigation, simpler search for a specific item may lead to increased sales or leads. Yep, even the most successful sites are constantly revising their look, the organization and the ease-of-use for site visitors.

Web site redesign tips

Your web site navigation should be simple, straightforward and 100% functional. Labels should be clearly understood by any site visitor. Assume no knowledge on the part of the people who visit your on-line business site. They may not have any knowledge of your business and you have only a few seconds to engage a visitor and create interest in your brand before the visitor can hit the back button and exit your site.

When designing your site, place yourself in the position of the first-time visitor and configure your site for that prospect. Hey, if it worked for Jeff Bezos (Amazon’s founder)…it should work for you.

Tips for Choosing a Web Designer for Your Business Web Site

How to Choose a Web Design Firm

Simple. You do your homework on them. Then, you start asking questions and taking notes. There are plenty of web designers available. You want to go with the best because, in fact, your web designer is in essence your partner. You want to choose a designer that takes YOUR business seriously.

What questions do you ask?

There are several important questions to ask when choosing a web designer for your business web site.

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design firm for your business web site is a very important decision. And if your company is like most small businesses, you probably do not have web design experience. Building your web site will take time and work. And working with a web designer is no easy task. So choose the right web design company from the start and avoid do-over’s, which can be costly and time consuming.

1. What kind of web experience do you have?

For starters, find out what kind of design experience your potential design firm has. Do they have experience with content management systems such as Joomla or Drupal, do they have experience working with “raw” HTML? Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience with ecommerce hosting?

2. Do you have a portfolio that I can review?

An experienced web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you?

3. Do you have any references?

In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn’t they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

4. What are your prices?

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front.

Ask them a bit about how they manage payments. If they respond in a very business-like and professional manner, this is a good sign. If they throw out answers like – “Don’t worry, we’ll manage” or “Whatever you are comfortable with”, don’t be fooled. This is trouble waiting to happen. Get the price in writing before you begin the project.

5. Do you have experience with search engine optimization?

Most small business owners do not have it in their budget to hire a separate marketing firm to work on search engine optimization (SEO), so it imperative that your web designer have experience in SEO. A good designer will know that design and SEO go hand-in-hand. Designing a web site for search engines with “clean” code that utilizes cascading style sheets is essential to getting your content indexed in the leading search engines, such as Google and Bing.

6. Do you have experience with social media marketing?

Many marketing firms do know the first thing about social media marketing. These firms are stuck in the past and are not as effective as they pretend to be. Be sure that you work with a designer that knows how to setup a Facebook fan page for your business and design a customized Twitter profile. This is important because you will want your social media properties to mesh with the design of your web site. The web site and social media pages should complement one-another.

7. What is your process for designing or building a web site?

Make sure you ask your potential web design company about the process that they use? Do they design a web site or do they build a web site? An experienced Internet professional should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don’t, they’re probably not as experienced as they claim to be. Building a web site is a highly technical process, while designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. At the same time, many firms design web sites, yet out-source the creative portion of the project. Find out from the beginning what the process if for the firm that you are considering.

8. How long will it take?

Perfectionism can be a huge stumbling block in the fast paced world of the Internet. Some designers are unable to compromise between quality and time to market needs. Test: See how long it takes until you receive a proposal.

9. What type of support is offered after web site launch?

If your design firm does not offer web site maintenance, you might want to continue looking. Most reputable design firms will offer “post-launch” maintenance for companies that do not have an in-house webmaster.

Is Green Web Hosting The Future of The Web?

Is Green Web Hosting The Future of The Web? Count On It. Internet Future: Green Web Hosting

The world wide web runs on electricity, though we don’t usually think about it. But the fact is, without electricity you wouldn’t be reading this. You’d hunker down in front of the fireplace and read the newspaper by the dim light of a lamp fueled by whale oil. Sound like fun?

It wasn’t. It was actually pretty boring compared to today’s instant information available only on the W3. If it happens any where – from Teheran to Terre Haute, it spreads virally across the digital landscape in seconds. That news bit also gobbles up electricity like nobody’s business.

So, is green hosting the wave of the future web? Yes. And if you aren’t riding the crest of that wave, you’ll be left behind in the digital dust. An energy munching web site is sooo “last millennium.”

The Ever Expanding World Wide Web

Some facts about green hosting:

  • There are more than 125 million web sites on line today.
  • Each day, 6,000 new web sites launch, carrying with them the dreams and visions of web-preneurs looking to become the next Amazon.
  • Each web site sits on a server that requires electricity to run it and cool it. That requires a lot of electricity.
  • The electricity bill for a successful web host would make a grown man cry. It’s HUGE. Many web hosts pay thousands of dollars monthly to keep their servers juiced.
  • The consumption of electricity used by web hosts doubled in just five years.
  • With the advent of Web 2.0 features like videos, VoIP, streaming TV and other “must-haves,” the web will only expand the demand for more and more electricity.
  • Experts suggest that energy consumption by web hosts will continue to double every five years and studies show these web pros are actually being conservative. Some “green” bloggers suggest the amount of electricity consumed by web hosts will double every 30 months.
  • Energy consumption to power the W3 grows exponentially, doubling then quadrupling and so on. The demand for power from web hosts will increase at a phenomenal rate.
  • As the world wide web grows in both size and features, web site owners will require increasing amounts of bandwidth to avoid long download times.

What Are Web Hosts and Why Do They Gobble Up Energy?

Conduct a Google search of web hosts and see what pops up.

You’ll get 149,000,000 search results for web hosts. Now, not all of these SERP links are for actual web hosts. Some are for reviewing sites (that use web hosts), blogs about web hosts (that use a web host to get their blogs out to the masses) and even SERPs links to sellers, resellers and re-re-sellers of hosting services.

Hosting is a commodity on the web. You or I can buy space from a web host and open up our own hosting company. The mother host provides all the tools and support you need to build your own hosting company in the basement office. (The one that floods occasionally. Ooops.)

A web host can be a kid down the street or it can be a huge, physical plant with chipheads tending to racks of servers, customer support taking calls from subscribers and office people tending to routine business matters – like paying the electric company.

What’s a server? Well, in simplest terms, a server is not much more than a humongous hard drive in a box. Your web site (or future web site) resides on one of these server hard drives, along with hundreds of other web sites. Today, server disk space is measured in terabytes.

What’s a terabyte? A measurement of bits and bytes on steroids. A terabyte is the equivalent of 1,000 gigabytes. More dramatically, a terabyte equals 1,000,000,000,000 bytes or 10 to the 12th power of bytes.

That brand new computer you just bought MIGHT have a 500 gigabyte hard drive. A server has dozens of terabytes of storage. It also has tons of RAM (128 gigabytes of RAM isn’t unusual) so that the server can deliver the bandwidth required for fast downloads of all the sites stored on that server.

In other words, web hosting companies consume a lot of electricity with rack upon rack of servers all sucking up electricity from the grid.

Facebook, alone, employs 30,000 servers as of October, 2009 and that number grows daily as more and more of us connect through this social media site. Amazon employs thousands of servers. Microsoft, Verizon and all of your other favorite sites employ thousands of servers strung together in arrays,

In other words, there are millions of servers storing terabytes of information available to you on the W3. Yep, even your little blog gobbles up electricity.

Green Hosting

So, even though we may not think about energy consumption when we stake a claim to some digital real estate, build and launch web site, we are adding to the demand for more and more electricity.

Now, along comes green hosting – hosting companies that employ “green” technology to lower the demand for electricity generated by coal- and gas-fired electricity generation plants. These businesses recognize that green hosting is inevitable as energy costs rise and we continue to pump tons of air-borne pollutants into the atmosphere every day.

Things ain’t going to get better, folks, unless our corporate culture does an about face and stops drawing down available energy. Major cities, like Los Angeles and Phoenix, already experience rolling blackouts as parts of the energy grid are shut down for a while. New York City broadcasts “please turn off your air conditioners” on the hottest summer days and brown-outs are almost routine.

Green hosting is leading the way in how U.S. businesses conduct on-line business by employing green sources of energy to power their servers.

A green host doesn’t add to the demand for more electricity from traditional sources. Instead, these far-sighted companies employ new technology – solar power, wind power, deep core earth energy, hydro-electric (where available) and bio-fuels that can be regenerated with another harvest of corn.

But there’s a lot more to web hosting than just storing web sites on gigantic hard drives. It’s not just about ROM. It’s also about RAM, which translates into the speed at which your web site interacts with site visitors. It better be fast. Studies reveal that 90% of us will sit through a 10-second download while only 10% will sit through a 30-second download. We’ve become that impatient.

From a site owner’s perspective, that stat translates into a loss of 80% of your prospects in that 20-second download window. So you want more RAM, more bandwidth and unfettered access to the server’s CPU and other shared assets – server parts you share with other sites.

Hosts employ the latest in fiber optic technology, they boost RAM and deliver quick downloads even quicker. Green web hosts do this without further straining the energy system that we rely on to log on, watch TV and cook dinner by using non-traditional resources to power up your web site whenever a site visitor stops by.

Machine-Readable, Structured Data With Meaningful Annotations

Until recently, software agents could not handle many kinds of information that could have been associated with files. Although file structure and extensions provided some information about files, much information could not be expressed. For example, a file with a.jpg extension has always represented a JPEG image but provided no information about the shutter speed, exposure program, F-stop, aperture, ISO speed rating, or focal length until the introduction of metadata formats such as Exif and XMP. However, sharing metadata stored in binary files is still not the most efficient way to share metadata, especially if it is much more generic. In the digital era, electronic files are being sold (e-books, MP3 files, and so on) that might be retrieved or played on many types of devices. A variety of metadata technologies can be used to express arbitrary information and represent any kind of knowledge associated with electronic documents in a machine-readable format. Machine-readable data (automated data) is data stored in a machine-readable format, making it possible for automated software agents to access and process it without human intervention. To browsers, web documents consisted of human-readable data only. In fact, information was confused with the containers that contained them. In contrast to the conventional Web (the “Web of documents”), the Semantic Web is the “Web of data.” The Semantic Web provides machine-processable data, making it possible for software agents to “understand” the meaning of information (in other words, semantics) presented by web documents. This feature can be used for a variety of services, such as museums, community sites, or podcasting.

Note that the word semantic is used on the Web in other contexts as well. For example, HTML5 supports semantic (in other words, meaningful) structuring elements, but this expression refers to the “meaning” of elements. In this context, the word semantic contrasts the “meaning” of elements, such as that of section (a thematic grouping), with the generic elements of older HTML versions, such as the “meaningless” div. The semantics of markup elements should not be confused with the semantics (in other words, machine-processability) of metadata annotations and web ontologies used on the Semantic Web. The latter can provide far more sophisticated data than the meaning of a markup element.

Conventional web documents can be extended with additional data that add meaning to them rather than structure alone. Semantic Web is a new approach that is going to change the world of the Web. Surprisingly, as early as 2001, Tim Berners-Lee described the reason for the existence of the Semantic Web. On the Semantic Web, data can be retrieved from seemingly unrelated fields automatically in order to combine them, find relations, and make discoveries. The Semantic Web should be considered an extension of the conventional Web.

Two terms are frequently associated with the Semantic Web, although neither of them has a clear definition: Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. Web 2.0 is an umbrella term used for a collection of technologies that form the second generation of the Web, such as Extensible Markup Language (XML), Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax), Really Simple Syndication (RSS), and Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). They are the underlying technologies and standards behind instant messaging, Voice over IP, wikis, blogs, forums, and syndication. The next generation of web services is more and more frequently denoted as Web 3.0, which is an umbrella term usually referring to customization and semantic contents and more sophisticated web applications toward Artificial Intelligence (AI), including computer-generated contents.

The Semantic Web is a major aspect of Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. Web 3.0 can be considered a superset of the Semantic Web that features social connections and personalization. Several technologies contribute to the sharing of such information instead of web pages alone, and the number of Semantic Web applications is constantly increasing.

On the Semantic Web, there is a variety of structured data, usually expressed in, or based on, the Resource Description Framework (RDF). Similar to conventional conceptual modeling approaches, such as class diagrams and entity relationships, the RDF data model is based on statements that describe and feature resources, especially web resources, in the form of subject-predicate-object expressions. The subject corresponds to the resource. The predicate expresses a relationship between the subject and the object. Such expressions are called triples. For example, the statement “The sky is blue” can be expressed in an RDF triple as follows:

  • Subject: “The sky”
  • Predicate: “is”
  • Object: “blue”

RDF is an abstract model that has several serialization formats. Consequently, the syntax of the triple varies from format to format. Keep in mind that RDF is a concept, not a syntax.

The authors of the “conventional” Web usually publish unstructured data, because they do not know about the power of structured data, find RDF too complex, or do not know how to create and publish RDF in any of its serialization formats. The following are solutions to the problem that add structured data to conventional (X)HTML markup, which can be extracted by appropriate software and converted to RDF:

  • Microformats, which reuse markup attributes
  • Microdata, which extends HTML5 markup with structured metadata
  • RDFa (RDF in attributes), which expresses RDF in markup attributes that are not part of (X)HTML vocabularies

All data controlled by conventional web applications are kept by the applications themselves, making a significant share of data and their relationships virtually unavailable for automated processing. Semantic Web applications, on the other hand, can access this data through the general web architecture and transfer structured data between applications and web sites. Semantic web technologies can be widely applied in a variety of areas, such as web search, data integration, resource discovery and classification, cataloging, intelligent software agents, content rating, and intellectual property right descriptions. A much wider range of tasks can be performed on semantic web pages than on conventional ones; for example, relationships between data and even sentences can be automatically processed. Additionally, the efficiency is much higher. For example, a very promising approach provides direct mapping of relational data to RDF, making it possible to share data of relational databases on the Semantic Web. Since relational databases are extremely popular in computing, databases that have been stored on local hard drives up to now can be shared on the Semantic Web. Commercial RDF database software packages are already available on the market (5Store, AllegroGraph, BigData, Oracle, OWLIM, Talis Platform, Virtuoso, and so on). Semantic tools can also be used in a variety of other areas, including business process modeling or diagnostic applications.

Why Web Services?

Overview
Component-based programming has become more popular than ever. Hardly an application is built today that does not involve leveraging components in some form, usually from different vendors. As applications have grown more sophisticated, the need to leverage components distributed on remote machines has also grown.

An example of a component-based application is an end-to-end e-commerce solution. An e-commerce application residing on a Web farm needs to submit orders to a back-end Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) application. In many cases, the ERP application resides on different hardware and might run on a different operating system.

The Microsoft Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM), a distributed object infrastructure that allows an application to invoke Component Object Model (COM) components installed on another server, has been ported to a number of non-Windows platforms. But DCOM has never gained wide acceptance on these platforms, so it is rarely used to facilitate communication between Windows and non-Windows computers. ERP software vendors often create components for the Windows platform that communicate with the back-end system via a proprietary protocol.

Some services leveraged by an e-commerce application might not reside within the datacenter at all. For example, if the e-commerce application accepts credit card payment for goods purchased by the customer, it must elicit the services of the merchant bank to process the customer’s credit card information. But for all practical purposes, DCOM and related technologies such as CORBA and Java RMI are limited to applications and components installed within the corporate datacenter. Two primary reasons for this are that by default these technologies leverage proprietary protocols and these protocols are inherently connection oriented.

Clients communicating with the server over the Internet face numerous potential barriers to communicating with the server. Security-conscious network administrators around the world have implemented corporate routers and firewalls to disallow practically every type of communication over the Internet. It often takes an act of God to get a network administrator to open ports beyond the bare minimum.

If you’re lucky enough to get a network administrator to open up the appropriate ports to support your service, chances are your clients will not be as fortunate. As a result, proprietary protocols such those used by DCOM, CORBA, and Java RMI are not practical for Internet scenarios.

The other problem, as I said, with these technologies is that they are inherently connection oriented and therefore cannot handle network interruptions gracefully. Because the Internet is not under your direct control, you cannot make any assumptions about the quality or reliability of the connection. If a network interruption occurs, the next call the client makes to the server might fail.

The connection-oriented nature of these technologies also makes it challenging to build the load-balanced infrastructures necessary to achieve high scalability. Once the connection between the client and the server is severed, you cannot simply route the next request to another server.

Developers have tried to overcome these limitations by leveraging a model called stateless programming, but they have had limited success because the technologies are fairly heavy and make it expensive to reestablish a connection with a remote object.

Because the processing of a customer’s credit card is accomplished by a remote server on the Internet, DCOM is not ideal for facilitating communication between the e-commerce client and the credit card processing server. As in an ERP solution, a third-party component is often installed within the client’s datacenter (in this case, by the credit card processing solution provider). This component serves as little more than a proxy that facilitates communication between the e-commerce software and the merchant bank via a proprietary protocol.

Do you see a pattern here? Because of the limitations of existing technologies in facilitating communication between computer systems, software vendors have often resorted to building their own infrastructure. This means resources that could have been used to add improved functionality to the ERP system or the credit card processing system have instead been devoted to writing proprietary network protocols.

In an effort to better support such Internet scenarios, Microsoft initially adopted the strategy of augmenting its existing technologies, including COM Internet Services (CIS), which allows you to establish a DCOM connection between the client and the remote component over port 80. For various reasons, CIS was not widely accepted.

Designers Don’t Build A Web Business Part 1

Who makes your business?
Does the builder of your office make your business work? Does the sign company make your business work? We would never suggest that any business is successful except for the efforts of the owner/entrepreneur, but when it comes to web sites we think differently.

Why would we think that a web designer will build us an online business? Just because they say they will make your site stand out in a crowd? Just because they say they will drive traffic to your web site?

Maybe.

Maybe we believe the marketing hype because we want to, and we want to because we don’t have the technical know-how to make our own web site. Well, we don’t have the building skills to construct our own office either and that never stopped us from building our business.

The lack of technical know-how is no reason to hand over control to a web designer who knows nothing about our business or the market we serve. In fact it is downright dangerous and costly to follow a web designers ideas about building a web business.

What does a web designer know?
A web designer, having graduated from a college course in web design, knows how to build a web site. They do not know how to build a business. And this is where most of us get off track. We think that once the web site is designed then we are in business.

Compare this to buying an automotive repair shop with the hydraulic lifts and compressor, the work bench and office, and we would call this a working auto repair shop – but it is not an auto repair business until WE make it so.

We accept the recommendations of web designers and web marketing people and then believe that that is all there is to running a web business. The experts sold us a working web site, not a working web business. In fact, they didn’t sell us much of anything at all.

A custom web design in the digital virtual reality is something of a laugh because nobody starts from scratch, at least not for us small business guys. And that is not going to change, but maybe we will realize when we are paying too much for recycled ideas and copied code.

You are the business
After our web design has been built the biggest part of making it a business is yet to come. After the web experts have been paid all we have is a shell, just like the auto repair shop. Everything works and functions just fine, but there’s still no business for our new web site.

Unfortunately, if we had listened to the web designers we would have filled our web pages with filler and not real content. Filler is just a bunch of talk about our products or services and what a great business we are and why everyone should buy from us.

Who really believes what a company says about itself? Why would anyone, even in the market, care about filler that is very suspect?

We have been tricked
While we have been following the logic of web designers we have missed the shear genius of our own information. We have been tricked into thinking only about ourselves instead of thinking about our market. And it is not just the web industry that tricked us this way – it is old school offline marketing & advertising that tricked us first.

Putting the focus on our market is both the heart and brains of a business web site. We must first put our knowledge and experience for solving problems into the business and then we must talk to our web market as though we know them by name. And we do know them by name when we address them as a group of like minded people.

Standing apart
If we were to put our clients first and speak to them about their problems and how we can help to solve those problems then we would be one of the first small business web sites to do so. Our web content would be very different from any of our competitors. Our keywords would be more specific to the problems we solve. We would be giving our market what they really want and our web marketing costs would drop like a stone.

If we were to ignore all the experts in the web industry and paid full attention to our market there would be a big shift in how we did business. This much is pretty obvious and it’s hard for us to deny the value of communicating directly to our market with what they want to know. But, it’s hard not to shake with a little fear about wandering away from the comfort of doing what everyone else is doing.

2 Considerations
#1) If our web designer didn’t build us a web business, then they haven’t build anyone else a web business. What this means is that by being true to our business we have no competition.

#2) The risk in financial costs of attracting our real web market is tiny and the time it takes to build this into a business is less than the time we have already spent spinning our wheels and listening to others.

To make a web business happen we need to be engaged with our market and not expect anyone else to make it happen for us. We can look for help and learn from others, but if we expect designers to build our web business for us it will just another cookie cutter web site as they do what they have been trained to do.

To take control of our web business we need to know what our web market wants and what they need from us. This is not so difficult to do. To understand any web market, and our market specifically, you can find insights in the article in this series titled “Designers Don’t Build A Web Business Part 2”

The World Wide Web Will Be 25 Years Old

It’s only in 1989 that Tim Berners Lee wrote the first proposal for the World Wide Web, which was proposing a radically different way of sharing information on a global scale, built on the existing infrastructure of the internet.

And in that very short time, we’ve gone from nothing to 2 and 1/2 billion users and over 600 million Web pages. And both of those statistics is changing, going up all the time. We’ve built the largest information infrastructure in human history in just that short space of time. In this lecture, what I’d like to consider is two questions about that. The first one is, how on Earth did we get from there to here?

And very briefly, where exactly is here that we are at the moment? We’ve got some clues already from the previous lecture. So we know that the Web had a history. It didn’t come from nowhere. The Web was linked to technologies that existed before 1989.

The internet, of course, was really important–microchips, the personal computer, file transfer protocols. And it was also linked to much broader technologies that were shaping our modern world –mass production, electricity, the cables that provided the internet. But as well as technological innovations that enabled us to develop the Web, it’s important to recognize that it was linked to a cultural history. As we’ve heard in the previous lecture, it wasn’t the first way of thinking about a global information infrastructure.

And indeed, if you read science fiction at all, go and have a look at William Gibson’s book Neuromancer, was written in 1981. And you’ll find it almost impossible to imagine that that book was written before the Web existed, because there it is, in 1981, in this book. The Web also had a history that was tied in with economics and with social change. So we need to think about the postwar economic boom.

We need to think about electronics. We need to think about the Cold War. We also need to think about mass higher education and the way in which science was funded in the postwar period. So the Web had a history–a technological, a social, an economic, and a political history in terms of where it came from. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee made a very specific proposal to use HTTP, HTML, and URLs or URIs to share information and to navigate information on a global scale.

At the very beginning, or so the story goes, Tim Berners-Lee kept a notebook, in which he decided he would write down every time a new Website appeared on the internet. And he got to 20 and decided that perhaps he would stop doing it, because it was getting a bit difficult to keep up with it all. You imagine the notebook he’d need now–over 600 million Websites and counting, 2 and 1/2 billion people and counting.

And you know what? The main uses of the Web are not physicists. So how did we get from there to here? A popular way of understanding science and understanding technical innovation is to imagine that innovations take off because they’re very clever and because they’re designed to achieve certain outcomes. So one answer to that question, how do we get from there to here, would be to say, well, it was designed to do that, and it’s a really clever technology.

I’m afraid I think that the answer to that is, no, that’s not how we got from there to here. And there’s three different things I’d like you to think about, which underline my reason for saying no. The first one is that technology on its own is not enough. However clever, however innovative something is, technologies don’t happen on their own. They happen because people use them.

And people use them or don’t use them depending on the circumstances of their lives, depending on their motivations, depending on all kinds of social and economic factors. So the World Wide Web is a really obvious point. It needs to be able to read and write. If we don’t have maths literacy, no one’s going to use the Web, or at least not on the scale that we’re used to.

We need disposable incomes. If people can’t pay for access to the internet, they can’t buy computers, they’re not going to use the World Wide Web. Slightly more complicated, this, but it needed a range of use values. So if all you could do on the Web was share physics datasets, not very many people would be using it. All the physicists might be, but nobody else would be using it. And it also needed an open model. If the Web had been copyrighted, if we have to pay every time we wanted to use it, would it looks like it looks today? I really don’t think that it would. And those of you who watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics last year in 2012 might remember Tim Berners-Lee being present to that ceremony with a message flashing around the Olympic Stadium in London, saying, this is for everyone.

And that has been a really important decision, I would say almost as important as the technologies themselves, in shaping how we got from there to here. So that’s the first reason. The second reason why we can’t just say that this was inevitable outcome of the technology that was developed is because the Web we have now, even in technical terms, is not the Web we had in 1989.

In 1989, or 1990, I suppose, to be more accurate, you could put static Web pages up–text, no visuals. And the only people really who could put Websites up were those who had quite high-level technical skills to be able to do that. All of that changed as we moved into a second generation of the Web, what people have called Web 2.0, where it started to look much nicer. You could have visuals, you could have dynamic Web pages.

All of it became much fancier, much more interesting and engaging. But also really importantly, Web 2.0 is used to describe a phase of the Web where user-generated content became possible. So it wasn’t just a relatively small number of people with high technical skills who could put information on the Web. All of us–you, me, anybody with access to the Web could put their information out there, whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter or whether we’re blogging, a whole range of ways in which people can share information, share their photographs, share their life histories, sell their products, be on eBay, whatever it is, user-generated content is driving the Web or has driven the Web to a large extent in terms of that growth in the recent period. It’s not stopping there. People now are talking about Web 3.0. And that’s something we’ll talk about later on it. But that is going to change again how the Web is and how we’re using it. The third reason why we can’t simply say, oh, the Web grew because it was a great technology, is because we’ve had to work very, very hard to make the Web what it is today.

Some of you will have heard of an organisation called W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium. The World Wide Web Consortium is an organisation that develops protocols and guidelines to ensure the stability of the Web and the continued growth of the Web. It’s an organisation that brings together governments, businesses, academics, a whole range of people who negotiate long and hard over how to enable the Web to continue to function in a stable,reliable, and sustainable kind of way. And it’s really important to know that at W3C, there’s two underpinning values. One is, the Web is for everyone. And two is, the second is, the Web is for everything. It has to be possible to use the Web on any kind of device, not on one that’s produced by one company or another company or a particular kind of device, but on any kind of device.

And again, you can imagine if that hadn’t been the case, the Web might look very different today to how it does. W3C isn’t the only organisation that’s doing all that hard work to try and hold the Web together. But it’s a very powerful organisation, and it has as its vision–I think it’s important to say this–a commitment to participation, knowledge sharing, and trust. And that’s not easy. That’s really, really hard work–the effort, the energy, that it takes to hold the Web together.

Should We Let Our Web Designer Off The Hook?

Misleading web marketing hype lacks professional integrity

Keep one thing in mind, the marketing hype about driving web traffic to your site simply reveals the lack of understanding in how the web works. Keywords are all about attraction and search engines pull relevant web sites to the top spots. The process of gaining traffic is based on attraction. There is no known means of driving web users to your web site or any other web site.

“Making your web site stand out in a crowd” is another myth, or “Your competitor’s web site is stealing your customers” is just more misleading sales hype. And what is worse is that many web designers believe in their own sales hype. But that’s not all.

Web professionals perpetuate a number of falsehoods about the web and it makes me wonder why they keep the truth hidden? Do they not understand the nature of the web, or can they make more money selling a dream than selling a reality?

People love the idea of overnight success and when they are told this is possible it is a hard thing to resist. Sales hype like “I will drive traffic to your site, make your site stand out in a crowd and you can sell your products to the world!” is exactly what we all want to hear.

An honest web designer would tell you that overnight success can only be achieved with the deepest of pockets for massive advertising campaigns. However, the alternative web marketing method is low cost long term goals that build tangible results that are as natural as the seasons where planting seeds leads to the inevitable harvest.

Yuk, we want instant
We want to sell to the world and have tons of traffic buying products off the shelf like there was no tomorrow. But what we get with that fairytale is quite the opposite of what we were told. After a few failures at overnight success schemes we realize that had we chosen a long term goal we would be getting somewhere by now.

Our biggest problem is finding a web designer that knows about low cost pull marketing and is willing to design our site for such a purpose.

Design over marketing

Web designers are artists. They are not business people and they know nothing about your business. Even when you are asked to provide a description of your web market – like, isn’t that the question you want to ask them? – they promptly forget what you said and dive into creating a masterpiece you are going to love. And you will love it.

Your market, on the other hand, won’t be impressed as they really don’t care what your web site looks like as they are more concerned about what your web site can do for them.

You’ve paid for a web design that pleases you. BUT, does it work to be of service to your market? Well… probably not. Does it support your market? Does it help educate your market? Does it build trust and form relationships with your market? Oh well, but the home page sure looks good to you.

King Kong headers

They’re everywhere and every web designer loves them. So what if it takes up all of the prime screen real estate, your web designer tells you it’s the latest thing. So much for making your web site stand out in a crowd!

A King Kong web header is mostly meaningless. It takes up an enormous amount of prime screen real estate but does almost nothing. When these King Kong headers are repeated on every page your web site is being robbed of prime marketing space over and over again. Just the fact that the header on every page is repeated means that it doesn’t have to be big at all.

Think about the terrific marketing that could use that space. Imagine calling out to your web marketing and naming their biggest problem. Isn’t that the headline news you would be better off with on your home page?

If it’s all about branding then the King Kong header is not doing you any favours. A big city skyscraper is probably not your company image, but it may reflect your dreams. Would you pay for that image on a billboard or a newspaper ad?

Image sliders

This is pretty much the same issue as the King Kong header. A lot of branding and marketing space given up for repeated images that get old really fast. If the image slider doesn’t have a specific marketing function then it is just robbing space.

Small font size

You spent a lot of time writing the best content for your market and the clever web designer sees all this text as ruining the artistic elements on the page. The solution is to make your best marketing information small and unreadable. You might think that the designer’s real motive was to make the text blend in with all the artistic elements but you would be wrong.

Web designers destroy your marketing content because it competes for attention with their idea of a beautiful business web site. Doing business? Well, art is not business and a web designer is all about art. I know – been there done that.

The Evolution of Word Wide Web

Introduction

World Wide Web (WWW) is the system of interlinked hypertext documents containing text, images, audio, videos, animation and more. User can view and navigate through these documents using hyperlinks or navigation elements which have references to another document or to the section of the same document. In a broader sense “The World Wide Web is the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge.”

History of World Wide Web

WWW was first proposed in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau while working at the CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research. Both of them came out with their individual proposal for Hypertext systems and later on they united and offered joint proposal. The term “Word Wide Web” was first introduced in that joint proposal. The history of every invention has lot of pre-history. Similarly the World Wide Web has also lot of pre-historical gradual development of hypertext system and internet protocols which made the WWW possible. The gradual development started in the early 1945, with the development of Memex, a device based on microfilms for storing huge amount of documents and facilitating organizing those documents. Later in 1968 “Hypertext” was introduced, which made linking and organization of documents fairly easy. In 1972 DARPA (Defense Advance Research Project Agency), started project that connect all research centers to facilitate data exchange which later adopted for military information exchange. In 1979 SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) was invented to enable sharing of documents for large government project by separating content from the presentation and thereby enabling same document to be rendered in different ways. In 1989 Tim Berners-lee came out with Networked Hypertext system form CERN Laboratory. In 1990, joint proposal for hyper text system was presented and the term “World Wide Web” first introduced. In 1992 first portable browser was released by CERN, and that had picked up industry interest in internet development. Today web is so much popularized and has grown to be so invaded in to our lives; it becomes almost impossible to imagine the World without web.

Web Evolution – What and How?

Each technology has certain distinguished characteristics and features. Similarly web has certain features such as data, services, mess-up, APIs, social platform and more. These features are continuously and progressively evolving in distinct stages with qualitative improvements over the existing. Web evolution is categorized and hyped with some fancy marketing terms like “Web 1.0”, “Web 2.0”, “Social Web”, “Web 3.0”, “Pragmatic Semantic Web”, “Pragmatic Web” and many more.

Yihong Ding, PHD candidate at Brigham Young University, in his article on “Evolution of Web” explained the development of Web by analogically comparing it with the human growth. Yihong Ding stated “The relationship between web pages and their webmasters is similar to the relationship between children and their parents. As well as parents raise their children, webmasters maintain and update their web pages. Human children have their normal stages of development, such as the newborn stage, pre-school stage, elementary-school stage, teenage stage, and so on. Analogically, web has its generations, such as Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and so on.”

Along with technological advancement web design also changed over the period of time. Initial design was simple hypertext read only system which allowed users to read the information. User was just a viewer of what is presented on the web. Gradually images and tables added with evolution of HTML and web browsers, which allowed making better design. Development of photo-editing tools, web authoring tools and content management tools enabled designer to begin creating visually appealing website design layouts. In the next phase of development, web design changed with the change in usability and the focus is diverted on the users rather than the content of the website. User interaction and social touch is applied to the web design. Now user is not just a viewer. User can drive the web with feedback, information sharing, rating and personalization. Gradually we got the mature blend of function, form, content and interaction, called Read/Write Web. Continuing this evolution, meaning is added to the information presented on the web so that online virtual representatives of human can able to read and interprets the presented information. This kind of web where user agent imitating human behavior, can read and understand the information using artificial intelligence is called semantic web.

Web 1. 0 (Read Only Web)

World Wide Web is evolved in stages. First stage was the basic “Read Only” hypertext system also termed as Web 1.0 since the hype of Web 2.0. In fact in the original proposed web model, Tim Berners-Lee envisioned web as the Read/Write Model with HTTP PUT and HTTP DELETE method. These methods were almost never used just because of security reasons.

Some of the Characteristics of Web 1.0

1. In Web 1.0 web master is constantly engaged with responsibility of managing the content and keeps user updating. Majority of hyperlinks to the contents are manually assigned by the web master.

2. Web 1.0 does not support mass-publishing. The content on the website is published by the web master and thereby does not leverage the collective intelligence of users.

3. Web 1.0 uses basic hyper text mark up language for publishing content on the internet.

4. Web 1.0 pages do not support machine readable content. Only human who are web readers can understand the content.

5. Web 1.0 provides contact information (email, phone number, fax or address) for communication. Users have to use the off-line world for further communication with this contact information.

6. In Web 1.0, web pages are designed to react instinctively based on the programmed condition. Specific result or response is generated when the programmed condition is satisfied. Web 1.0 model does not understand remote request and can not prepare response for potential request in advance. To clearly understand above characteristics of web 1.0, Yihong Ding in his article on “Evolution of World Wide Web” has analogically correlated World of Web 1.0 with the world of a Newborn baby.