Chapter 4. Planning the Data for a Dynamic Site

Dynamic sites open up a serious number of design options to the developer. No longer are you tied to the static model where pages are fixed in place. Now, you can design for a huge amount of content that can be displayed in a handful of templates.

These sites work because they can be designed to be updated without having to add or delete pages. Through the use of templates and content tied to a database (not a fixed page), adding new content to a page is no longer a cumbersome and tedious task.

You also have a greater degree of interactivity available to you than ever before. Data drilling?plowing through a multitude of pages in a site to find specific information?is a thing of the past. The viewer can be engaged in the process right from the index or any other page, and you can mold the site's information to his or her interests. Although you have this freedom, be sure to include a programmer on the team if the site is complex.

In this instance, your margin of error is razor-thin. Dynamic sites are code-driven, and though Dreamweaver MX 2004 makes it relatively easy to get into the game, it doesn't make you a programmer. It is easy to make mistakes that can be potentially difficult to repair if you don't understand how it all works. As one of the authors so succinctly puts it, "It's like a book of spells. One wrong word and you wind up with a million ducks."

This chapter shows you how to avoid turning a dynamic web site into a million ducks. It starts with a plan.