Information on this page has been divided into three categories, Basic, containing questions on basic web terminology, General, containing general questions on our procedures, policy and services, and Technical, referencing more technical questions.
Click on the links below for the answers.
Basic Questions - What Is
Although the Internet had been around for awhile, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) was invented by a fellow named Tim Berners-Lee, in 1989, when he created the World Wide Web, as a tool for manipulating and cross-referencing scientific text, using "mark-up" tags for formatting. Since that time, HTML has grown to include graphics, multimedia, and other imbedded objects, and is still the basis for the formatting and structure of most pages you view on the web. HTML works on the "client-side", meaning it is interpeted, then displayed by your browser as it is read.
Since standardization has been slow in coming, different browser manufacturers interpret some code differently, which sometimes creates some frustrations for the web programmer. Sometimes a "happy medium" needs to be acheived so that a site will display correctly in various browsers. Other technologies have come about, however, such as CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), that help in this process.
CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
As HTML has grown, it has also become cumbersome. Cascading Style Sheets was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium, an organization that oversees the architecture and standardization of the Web.
The basic premise of CSS is to remove the styling markup from HTML code and place it into separate documents called "style sheets".
The word "cascading" comes in as there is a hierarchy of precedence in the use of style definitions. This allows the web developer to set up a basic style sheet, while overriding variations can be written into the "head" of an HTML document, or within a line of HTML markup code.
Cascading Style Sheets allow the web developer to define basic styles for an entire site. They also provide for greater flexibility and efficiency. The ability to hide and display the text on this page is brought to you through the advantages of CSS.
PHP is an extremely fast and powerful "server-side" programming language.
PHP was designed to be embedded into HTML markup code.
In other words, it can be directly intermixed with HTML, rather than being contained in a separate program. What this means is that PHP makes it very easy to write interactive web pages. PHP also provides a wide range of interfaces, which means that it can interact with several other languages and databases.
PHP provides the means to do everything from processing data to generating graphics on the fly. As an example, the page you are viewing now was written using a PHP script. Until moments ago, the text you are reading now only resided in a server database. From the moment you clicked on the menu selection to open this page, the PHP script opened the database on our server, retrieved the data, and wrote the HTML code for this page. Fast huh!
There are two advantages in the process I just described.
First of all, it saved me the tedious and time-consuming task of cutting and pasting the same code over and over for each of these FAQs to display. The display code is the same - only the data within it changes. With the data stored in a database, using PHP, I only needed to write the code once. It was then set in a PHP code loop, which wrote the page for me, accessing a different record in the database each time, until it reached the end of the file.
Secondly, If this were your web site, you might want to change this data from time to time. We would write a simple form for you to access and change the information in the database, add more information, or delete information that may be incorrect or out of date.
These are some of the advantages of server-side processing and why we rely heavily on PHP to do the job.
DNS (Domain Name System)
This acronym is also commonly referred to as "Domain Name Server", or "Domain Name Service", all meaning the same thing, which is the system by which domain names are translated into IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. DNS also controls the delivery of email. Without DNS, we would be having to remember and type IP addresses (such as 166.50.288.34) into our browsers address bar rather than domain names.
Entire books have been written explaining how the DNS works. The nutshell is this: When you register a domain name, you will be asked for DNS addresses, which will be provided to you by your web host. You are not required to enter a DNS, but until you do, your web site will not be found.
The DNS describes the location of your name server. Actually, you will have at least two domain name servers - a primary, and backup. In case the primary fails for some reason, the secondary will still report the proper information. Your DNS will look something like this:
Once this information is entered, your domain name will point to your host nameserver, which stores your actual IP address.
If you change web hosts, you simply need to change the DNS address held by your domain name registrar to the new hosts DNS address.
SSL (Secure Socket Layers)
Secure Socket Layer is a technology developed by Netscape in 1994 to create a secure, protective link between a web browser and a web server. SSL encrypts data so that it is private and secure, allowing credit card and other data to be sent over the Internet without the fear of the information being intercepted.
Use of SSL requires the purchase of an SSL certificate, which is provided by an authorized Certificate Authority.
Most businesses on the web who need this type of security use SSL certificates.
There are two basic types of SSL Certificates - Shared or Private.
Understanding the importance of server-side processing requires understanding how a browser (such as Internet Explorer) functions - what it can and cannot do.
This is a good thing. The ability of HTML pages to do such processes would open up a whole world to virus mongrels and other unsavory characters.
The Server. A server is a computer that has been designed to "serve" information to other computers. An example would be a network server, which is the backbone of an office computer network, providing programs and files that can be accessed by other computers or workstations.
Putting things very simply, when you are viewing web pages, you are dealing with two machines. The first is the computer that your web browser resides on. Your web browser has two basic functions; sending a request to a server, and displaying that information once it is received. A web server is a computer that is connected to the Internet, and designed to "serve" web pages and the results of other processes to your browser.
When you need to perform a process, such as database manipulation, running an application, or connecting to other resources, this process is run on the server, which then serves the results to the browser for display.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization is the process of enhancing or optimizing your web pages to obtain high rankings on the various Internet search engines.
Optimization is not a simple task. Different search engines use a variety of criteria to rank their listings, and these criteria are constantly changing in order to avoid being taken advantage of. An array of methods are involved in achieving optimal SEO.
In order to display your site on the Internet, you need a "web host" - a web server that is connected to the vast network that makes up the Internet. Anyone with the proper knowledge can install a web server. For the sake of reliability and cost-effectiveness, however, unless you are a large company with a dedicated technical staff and a specific need, it is best to put your site in the hands of a hosting company.
Web hosting is a very competitive field, and there are a variety of companies available offering a variety of services that would cost you thousands of dollars to implement on your own. Software necessary to run your site consists of server software, as well as a a variety of other software to run specific services and computer languages.
There are basically three types of web hosting services: shared, dedicated and co-located.
Shared: The majority of sites on the web use this type of hosting plan. It is very economical, secure, and worry-free. With a shared hosting plan, the space on your web server is shared with several other sites. The cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining and upgrading the software and hardware necessary to run your web site is the responsibility of the web hosting company.
Dedicated: Dedicated servers provide the advantage of complete control of the web server. Here, the hosting company provides the server, rack space, bandwidth, connection to the internet, hardware maintenance, and server monitoring.
Although some companies provide services (usually with a high price tag) for installing software on your server, you are responsible for the cost of purchasing and upgrading that software. Total costs for maintaining a dedicated server can run into thousands of dollars per year.
Co-Located: With a co-location plan, the hosting company simply provides rack space and an Internet connection for you to install and run your own server. Rack space generally runs around $500 to $700, per month, with initial setup costs about the same. Cost of the server and other necessary network equipment will probably run, on the low end, around $7,000. Add to that the cost of software, setup and configuration and insurance, as well as standby equipment should your server fail.
DataBoySoftware.com is our domain name. A Domain Name is the textual representation of your location on the internet. When you register with a domain host, your domain is assigned an IP (Internet Protocol) address that looks something like this: 206.256.12.35. This is your real Internet address. Your domain name actually acts as an alias for your IP address.
Flash is a graphics and animation program, originally developed by Macromedia, and now owned by Adobe.
Flash has been used widely for animated graphics over the years, but is being replaced with newer technology on the Web.
What is the cost, and how is it billed?
Our web site design prices can range anywhere from $500. on up to several thousand, depending on your needs.
Once we have determined your needs, we will give you a flat price for designing your site.
We ask for 50% of that price to start the project, and the remainder on completion.
We charge an hourly rate for changes you decide to make outside of the original agreement. We also charge an hourly rate for finding photographs and graphics for your site, editing text for errors (if necessary), and other services that we may not be able to determine at the time of your quote. However, these services will be explicitly defined in your quote package, allowing you to shop around for these extra services, if you wish to. We will also provide help and resources if you wish to do the work yourself. We do not charge extra for minor changes or maintenance, consultation time, or long-distance phone calls, at any time, before during or after completion of your site.
Are there any hidden costs?
No. Our contract with you is explicitly detailed, and we will go over each item with you to assure a mutual understanding. If we have forgotten anything, we eat the cost. Simple as that.
Is the internet safe?
The World Wide Web has matured tremendously since its' inception in the early 90's - especially in the area of data security. Today, thanks to SSL (Secure Socket Layer) and other forms of encryption, we can enjoy the benefits of online banking, credit card transactions and other forms of sending secure data over the Internet. Many thousands of private documents are securely transferred daily over the Web, from loan applications to sensitive corporate documents.
If you are concerned about data security, talk to us about your specific needs, and we will provide you detailed information.
Can I update my own website?
Once we have designed a site for you, we will do minor updates at any time at no extra charge. If your needs involve more extensive editing of text, changing photo images, or automating an e-commerce site, we can provide you with the utilities to do that, and it will be incorporated into the original design of your site. Major changes in the layout or design of your site will be billed at an hourly rate.
If what you have in mind is continual editing of your site content, you may want your site built around a content management system. There are drawbacks to this type of Web design, which we would be happy to discuss with you. In most cases, we find that it is much easier for the user if we write and install a utility for you that will allow you to edit the areas you choose.
However, if a content management system is what you want, we can install the system of your choice, or make recommendations for you. We offer a choice of open source (free) programs that do an excellent job. We will discuss the pros and cons of each and guide you to the system that is right for you. We will then build your site around that system.
Who owns the artwork on my site?
Basically, your site, your graphics. There may be exceptions with some photographics or other graphics that come from a stock photo house, where there may be an additional fee for additional use - on another Web site, for example. However, this is usually not the case.
Upon site completion, you will receive a CD containing all artwork used on your site.
I want to change something on my site.
We do not expect our relationship with you to end with the completion of your web site. We will not charge you, at any time, for minor changes to your site and it is our policy to make those changes as immediately as possible. Minor changes may be something as small as changing an email address to changing the text on an entire page. The decision of what is minor and what isn't rests with us, and is solely dependant on the time it takes us to complete the task. If charges are to be applied, we will discuss this with you before the task is begun.
Changes involving structural design or other extensive work will be billed at an hourly rate. We will provide you with a close estimate of the total hours, or a flat quote based on our hourly estimation.
From time to time, you may want to refresh your site to keep it alive and interesting. We use Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), which means that some style changes can be made throughout your entire site by simply changing a few lines of code. We may or may not charge you for style changes. Most style changes, such as font style or size, header styles or other formatting changes can be made in a matter of minutes, whether you have three pages or a thousand.
You may decide you want to revamp your entire site, including structural and major graphic changes. In this case, we will provide you with a flat quote.
Can you register my domain name?
Yes. DataBoy is a domain name registrar. For information see our Domains Page.
Do you guarantee top SEO ranking?
"Guaranteed" search engine ranking is a sales gimmick.
The Web abounds with companies guaranteeing placement in the top ten of Google, Yahoo, etc.
If you have or are considering forking out your hard-earned money to one of these companies, consider the following:
No company can guarantee you "top ten" ranking on a specific keyword or keyword phrase (for instance "real estate"), unless you are in a highly specialized field with little competition.
Anyone can place a "paid sponsor" search engine ad and have "page one" results.
You can do this yourself and save some money.
On what keyword are they guaranteeing your "top" ranking?
Good search engine optimization involves a number of keywords (or keyword phrases), each of which will bring your web site up in a different position on a search engine result list.
There are multitudes of companies using practices frowned upon by search engines, such as "doorway" pages, hidden text and search engine spamming.
These methods can get your site permanently banned from top search engines.
Put in "databoysoftware.com" as a keyword in any search engine. Amazing first page results!
A more reputable SEO company that advertises "guaranteed page one ranking" has the following lines in the details of their "guarantee":
"We do not guarantee a first page placement in any specific search engine.
We do guarantee a first page placement over an aggregate of the major search engines including Yahoo, Google, MSN, AOL, Fast, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, AltaVista, AskJeeves, ODP, Teoma, Hotbot, MetaCrawler, AllTheWeb, Overture and a few others."
"...we don't guarantee that a "specific keyword phrase" will achieve a top ranking because we are not gods."
Another "guaranteed results" company states: "Each optimization client will be given a guarantee on a case-by-case basis depending on competetivness of the keywords."
Okay ... I'll guarantee you that if your product is chocolate banana tennis shoes, you'll have # 1 ranking in most search engines.
However, if your product is life insurance well...
The bottom line is this: SEO is more than just keywords and trying to outsmart search engines. It is very important to deal with a reputable company who does not promise you "pie in the sky", but rather a solid plan for your business or organization that will provide good, professional results, and won't get you banned by the search engines.
We believe that DataBoy meets that criteria. For more information, see our SEO Page
How do I promote my site?
There are many ways to promote your web site:
Submitting links to industry sites and specialized directories
Reciprocal links to complementary web sites
Banner Ads and other paid advertising
Creating and promoting e-books
Submitting links to your site in forums relating to your business
Developing free services
Publishing a newsletter
Including your URL in stationary, cards and other literature
Contracting with a Search Engine Optimization Service
Some of these services we will do for you at no extra cost.
We will consult with you regarding your particular business or organization and help you come up with a plan that will be right for you.
What is an ISP
ISP stands for Internet Service Provider. It is your cable or other service you use to bring the Internet into your home of office.
I don't want a DataBoy link on my site.
Your site belongs to you.
We do not require a link or reference to our site.
However, if you choose to do so, it is very much appreciated.
What is a web template?
A web template is a pre-designed site, and could possibly save you some money in designing your site.
Web templates are available in prices ranging from free to several hundred dollars.
Some may be customized extensively, while others only allow editing of the content.
If you are on an extremely tight budget, we can provide you with a large selection of templates and options to choose from.
Naturally, there are pros and cons, and we can discuss these with you in the planning stage of your web site.
What if I live out of town?
DataBoy has U.S. clients from coast to coast and even some outside the U.S. Modern communication methods make it very easy to plan and develop your site, no matter where in the world you reside.
As we design your site, you will have your own account at DataBoySoftware.net, a site designed exclusively for our web design clients.
Here we can post examples of your site as we progress through the design process, as well as graphic galleries if we are researching graphics for you. We also provide an easy-to-use upload utility so that you can transfer files to us directly from your computer with just a couple of mouse clicks.
For communication, we prefer to use e-mail extensively throughout the process, which allows both of us to have a solid reference to our conversations.
We also provide you with a toll-free number and we do not charge for conference time, or long distance calls to your business.
I just want an e-mail address.
We can provide you with a "parked" page for your domain, or no page at all, and up to 50 e-mail addresses for the low rate of only $30. per year.
I need help with a mail campaign.
AreoMail, a DataBoy company, provides several services for professional mail list campaign processing.
AreoMail will handle all of your needs, including HTML message design, page design on your site, subscribe/unsubscribe pages, display ads, database management and campaign statistics. Call us for a quote today at 206-418-1003 or toll free at 1-877-376-7544. Or, use the convenient form on our Contact page.
Do you do Flash and multimedia work?
Flash technology, for a number of reasons, is becoming a thing of the past. Newer technologies are being introduced which provide a much more integrated approach. That said, we can add any multimedia content to your site that you wish and will be happy to discuss your choices with you.
What database do you use?
We use MySQL, which is available free with our web hosting plans. However, we can utilize almost any popular database of your choice.
Do you write or modify programs written in Perl, C#, ASP.net or other languages?
We strongly prefer using PHP for our server-side processing, for a multitude of reasons, including ease of programming, the ability to access almost any popular database, and the ability to embed PHP code within HTML markup.
If you have a particular need to use another language, or you need to update code on your current site, we can accommodate your needs, in most cases.
Yes. We can design your e-commerce site from the ground up or include an open-source or commercial e-commerce program into your design.
How do I do credit card processing?
First, you will need a merchant account.
There are many merchant accounts available on the web.
A merchant account may include:
A monthly minimum charge - typically $25. or more.
Monthly "Statement Fees"
A 1% to 4% charge based on the amount of the purchase
A $.20 to $.40 charge per transaction
Other charges for various services
If you will not be doing a lot of credit card transactions, you might consider using a service such as PayPal or ProPay.
These services do not require a merchant account, and only charge you per transaction.
For a wealth of information on creating your online business see this article from How Stuff Works.
Can you change my current site?
Yes. In most cases, we can update or modify your existing site.
Use our Free Quote form for an analysis and estimate of your current site.
Can you move my site to your server?
Yes. Exceptions would be some server-side processes that may be on your current site. However, this is seldom the case. Our hosting service provides all of the most popular web languages and software.
Send us the name of your current site, and we will be able to determine whether there might be any problems.
If we are modifying a site for you, we actually prefer the site to be on our servers.
However, we can usually work with your current host and, in some cases, it may even be preferable to leave your site where it is.
Do you test for different browsers and screen resolutions?
We will design your site to work on all popular browsers at all resolutions, including mobile devices. For more information, see our Responsive Design page.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Your Web presence only matters when people can find you!