In the modern world of business, it is useless to be a creative original thinker unless you can also sell what you create. Management cannot be expected to recognize a good idea unless it is presented to them by a good salesman.
David M. Ogilvy

Web applications?

Traditionally business web sites were like brochures, a visitor could read through the pages but do nothing more. Furthermore such sites would be static – unchanging. When updates were needed the web designer would modify the existing pages or add new ones and upload all changes to the web server. Updating a web site was a slow and often costly process.

More recently things have changed: e-commerce sites allow users to browse the catalog, choose what to buy, pay online and even in some cases take delivery of the goods they’ve bought (electronic downloads). Information on a web site can be changed quickly and cheaply by the site-owners themselves, as often as they like, or even by visitors to the site. This gives people a good reason to come back regularly – the content may have changed since their last visit!

Web applications are the programs running on the web server that provide all these interactive functions. There are as many different types of application as there are types of web-site: shopping carts, content-management systems, blogs (online diaries), photo galleries etc. And for each type of web application there are many applications to choose from – selecting the one that best suits your needs takes up an entire section of this site: Applications.

What are the benefits?

Selling online is often the most cost-effective way to your products and services to new clients all over the world.

Providing “sticky” content on your site draws people back, and each visit is another opportunity to sell them something!

Easier management of your site allows you or your staff to do updates quickly and easily without having to keep calling in the web designer.

What are the drawbacks?

Compared to a traditional static site it takes much more computing power to generate each web page, so you need a quality hosting provider to ensure that your site loads quickly. On some cheap hosts application-driven web sites feel sluggish to use and sometimes even timeout – this will drive away visitors.

If you get a big surge of visitors this processing power requirement may overload the server.

Good backups are essential. Static web sites are often kept off-line with a copy being uploaded to the web site, so if the web server fails you just need to upload the site again. But in an application-driven web site everything is stored on the web server…

Some maintenance is required. Periodically, bugs will be discovered and updates made available for the programs running your web site. It’s imperative that these updates are applied as soon as they become available – they often include fixes for vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to break into your web site and deface it.

The BurstOpen complete hosting service is designed to overcome these drawbacks:

  • comprehensive off-server backups with multiple restore points
  • pro-active updates to all installed applications as they become available
  • as an option on busy sites, a static page cache to reduce server load

How much will it cost?

Many top-quality web applications are available free of charge through the open-source community. Many others cost a few hundred dollars or less. Effectively the major cost is the hosting and service element of setup and maintenance.

For example costs of some common types of web site please see the Services page or ask for a fixed-price quote to your specific requirements.