Developing the Data & Security
Figure 1. An example of data in columns. Each line is a RECORD. Each heading is a FIELD
A data website will typically comprise Database + Interface
The data might be extant i.e. you already have a database or you want to start with an empty database and simply collect data from site visitors.
In either case we need to know what the DATA FIELDS are. Its easy here to use all the fields you can think of, however the more fields, the less responsive the final website will be.
For example.. your primary contact table might be
ID - Title - Firstname - Surname - Addressline1 - Addressline2 - Addressline3 - Postcode - TelNo - Email - comment
ID - Name - Email
Ask yourself - Do I need ALL these contact details or just a "reach out" name and email?
The data holding table(s) once conceived and realised is then tested with a basic web form to see that it wont crash when lots of people use it. We also use form checking to make sure the data that goes into the table is in the correct form. (For example : no telephone numbers in the post code box would be allowed)
All the time the database is being deleveloped we are asking the question - Is this secure? That way we usually end up with a good assurance that normal attacks on the data will be thwarted.
Developing the interface
Once the data tables are working we would then design the website around the function. Gently and invisibly guiding the user to the correct area of the website that will provide him or her with the service they require.
Needless to say SEO is considered at all points in development and testing of the database throughout development is a priority.
Imagine you draw up a table of children in a classroom. You want to know their name, parents' telephone number, email address, and any allegies.
You collect the information from each child by sending them home with a form asking all the relevant questions. The next day most of the children return the forms. The teacher then draws up a table with headings at the top of the page for name, parents' telephone number, email address, and allegies. Under each heading the teacher fills in the results from the collected forms. Those HEADINGS at the top of the page are the FIELDS.
(See Figure 1 left for another example.)
A web form is a web page with a box or boxes that you can type into. Google's Search Page is a Web Form.
MySQL or MS SQL
This boils down to Free (My SQL) versus Paid For (Microsoft SQL) ie simply a matter of cost. Both are very good!
But what is SQL or Stuctured Query Language. Well, in 1970s it was initially called SEQUEL* (Structured English Query Language) designed to get information into and out of a database. Its popularity hasnt wained. However there are many "flavours" of SQL; the two most popular are MySQL which is FREE and open source and Microsoft SQL which is a superb system but costs real money to license. * SQL is still pronounced Sequel.