Chapter 18. Adding More Interactivity

In This Chapter

  • Adding a site counter, guestbook, and form to your page

  • Incorporating CGIs

  • Programming your pages

  • Going beyond HTML

Interactivity is what distinguishes the best Web sites from the rest. In years of work creating and deploying Web sites, we have seen that many of the best sites are those at which users enter data and then can come back to add to it, manage it, or see if someone else has reacted to it.

E‐mail is a good example of this kind of interaction. You struggle over what to say. You send your message out to one person, or two, or dozens. Then you invest countless hours replying to the replies, checking if everyone who was meant to get your message actually did, even phoning or meeting with people to follow up. Web sites that can capture the same kind of interactivity do very well.

But interactivity is much harder to add to your Web site, and to manage, than “brochureware” — a Web site that simply displays your message, however well‐written and laid out, to the world. There are real technical barriers to interactive sites because you need sophisticated databases to store and update data so that it can be accessed by scores or thousands of people. The same Web hosting providers who are happy to give you a free or low‐cost basic Web site are much less likely to want to help you create and maintain fancy databases.

Luckily, you can get started simply. In this chapter, we introduce you to easy‐to‐add interactive features, such as site ...

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