Glossary For The Dynamic Internet

Go directly to the glossary.

Many small and medium sized businesses have simple eBusiness Card or eFlyer type websites. These sites provide basic company information.

Generally the companies that have this type of site are thinking in terms of a yellow pages ad. While this is a great way to pick up the occasional customer, it generally doesn't work as well as a well placed ad in the yellow pages.

There are two main reasons for this. Most companies are not providing completely unique products. If you advertise locally the number of competing companies is generally manageable. On the other hand the shear number of companies that have a presence on the internet makes it incredibly difficult to differentiate products and services with a basic website. Secondly, most customers associate websites that have a lot of useful information with a company that is an authority on a particular subject.

There are many tricks that are practiced by Search Engine Optimization companies to move pages up in the search engine rankings. While there are many little tricks that can be done to get your site associated with specific keywords, the three biggest things you can do to get more traffic to your website are (the first two are completely free):

  1. Make sure that you have a lot of useful information on your site. And make sure that you add information regularly
  2. Work on getting other websites to link to your site
  3. Pay for advertising space with companies such as: Overture and Google

There is a lot of free (or at least inexpensive software) that you can use on your website to help with the first two of these tasks.

This document contains an alphabetized list of software you can use on your website to help attract: customers, links from other sites and to help improve your search engine placement. This is not a complete or authoritative list. It is an attempt to point out some of the common server software that can be used to improve customer retention, customer referral and search engine placement for your website.

Unless marked otherwise the example software listed on this page requires PHP and MySQL to be running on your web server and it's free software!

Anotation Legend:

$There is a for pay option
$$This script costs money
PerlThis script uses Perl instead of PHP
PythonThis script uses Python instead of PHP
No DBThis script does not require a database
HostedSoftware is run on the providers computers


Administrative Interface

Many dynamic web applications include a password protected area that can be used by authorized people to add, delete and or change information using a web browser.


see Weblog


Software that lets you display a calendar of events and/or appointments on your website. There are many variations on this, some allow for individual and/or group scheduling while others are used to communicate where and when specific events will be happening.

Most calendar software contains an administration interface that will allow you to add, delete or change items on your calendar using your web browser.

Business Rational:

If you give workshops or presentations regularly this can be a great tool for letting your customers know when and where your events will be held.

Example Software:


Chat applications allow two or more people to type messages to each other as if they were having a conference call. This is very similar to the Instant Messaging craze that has been lead by AOL, Yahoo and MSN.

There is a variation of chat called Shoutbox which allows you to create a special area on your website where your customers can write notes to you and each other.

Business Rational:

Chat applications have been used very effectively by companies that are attempting to build community amongst their customers. Dating services have had great success using chat applications.

Example Software:

Content Management System

Content management systems, also called portals, attempt to provide a completely configurable website for companies and communities that publish a lot of information.

Content management systems usually provide all of the functionality of a weblog as well as providing an architecture for combining information from sources inside and outside your company.

All CMSs provide an administrative interface where authorized users can publish articles and setup what information is displayed in what area of the site.

CMSs usually provide significant personalization capabilities. So your customers can specify what information they are most interested in and your website can present information that is tailored to their needs.

Other features that are often included in CMSs include:

  • Autoresponders so that you can send messages to your registered customers.
  • Discussion Boards so that you can facilitate discussion between your customers and your company.
  • FAQ so you can provide answer to your customers common questions.
  • Photo Albums so that you can provide pictures of products, people, places, events, etc.

Portals often require a significant amount of up-front setup. However, once they are configured, complicated websites can be managed by people with very little or no web design or development experience.

Business Rational:

Although a significant amount of work is often required to setup a Content Management System, once configured, these systems allow novice user to publish new information very quickly and easily. Sites that are updated regularly tend to achieve higher search engine ratings and to have higher customer return rates because the site is perceived as an information authority.

Example Sites:

Discussion Board

Discussion boards, or forums as they are often called, provide a way for people to have conversations on a website. Unlike chat where the people conversing are typically all using their computers at the same time, discussion boards support a style of communication where people "post" questions and then some time later other people "post" answers or responses. Some conversations go on for days, weeks and even years.

Discussion boards can have one or more discussion categories. Each category contain many topics (or conversations). Conversations are typically displayed either in chronological order or they are threaded. So you can see the structure of the conversation. Here is a simple example of a threaded conversation:

Search Engine Optimization

  • How can we optimize our website?
    • Use descriptive url names for each page on your site
    • Use the "meta description" tag on your pages
      • Definitely use the meta keywords tag too!
        • And meta robots
    • Post your urls on wikis and blogs
      • Make sure your posts are informative and on-topic!
        • Yes! Don't contribute to website spam.
        • Where can I find a good list of wikis and blogs?
          • Search in google for your topic and wiki or blog
          • Don't post on sites that are off-topic
            • it's bad karma!
            • the search engines are likely to penalize you for doing this soon
      • Post links to your site as many places as possible!
    • Add content to your site regularly
      • How often should I add to my site?
        • As often as possible! Every day!
          • I don't have that much time :(
        • We post about once a week, works great!
        • Depends on your business

In a discussion forum, you would typically be able to click on any of these entries to see more details.

Business Rational:

Many companies use discussion boards as a way of providing product support to their customers. Forums are a great way of creating community and for you to engage with your customers! They are also a great way for you to learn about what your customers want. Common topics companies provide on their discussion boards include: Product Support, Customer Feedback, Product Wish List, Tips & Tricks, Known Product Issues and Product Recalls.

If you have some great photographs, paintings, drawings, animations, movies, music, etc. eCard software can make it really easy for your customers to send an email to their friends with an association to you and your content. Some eCard software will include the picture in the email, most however sends a simple text message that invites the friend to come to your website where they will view your content and a custom message entered by your customer.

Business Rational:

This is a fantastic way for artists to drive traffic to their sites! When someone finds your site and enjoys your art, you are making it super easy for them to invite their friends to view your site too.

Example Site:

Example Software:


eCommerce software, often referred to as a shopping cart, helps you to sell products and services on your website. There are three general types of eCommerce software. All three allow you to manages your products, promotions, billing, taxes, shipping, etc. One kind runs completely on your server often providing connections to standard shipping (USPS, UPS, FedEx) and billing (Credit Card and PayPal) services. The second kind of eCommerce solution is provided by a hosting company that essentially runs the first kind of software on their servers on your behalf. The final type of eCommerce solution is also provided by hosting companies, the order processing and billing are done on the hosted servers, however you manage the look of your store on your own server.

There are many merchant communities that allow people to search for products across a large section of online stores. The three most common store aggregators are: Yahoo! Shopping, PayPal Shops and Froogle. You may be able to find a store aggregator that is specific to your area or to your type of business.


FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. An FAQ can be a simple list of questions and answers or it can be a full fledged Knowledge Base system that can handle searching and sorting the most commonly accessed questions to make them easier for your customers to access.

Please refer to the Knowledge Base article.

Business Rational:

If you get a lot of similar questions from your customers, a FAQ solution may help reduce the amount of time you have to spend going over old information.

Example Site:

Example Software:

Forms Processing

There are many different types of applications and hosted services that allow you to gather information from your customers through your website. This software will typically email you whenever someone completes a form. It may also store the information into a file or database.

Probably the most common script that people use for emailing form submissions is formmail.cgi. However, due to a large number of security problems with this script I can't recommend it. There are however excellent alternatives. Some even allow you to handle multi-page forms (wizards)


Groupware encompasses a wide variety of software solutions. This type of software is typically used inside organizations to facilitate team interaction, planning and execution. Groupware solutions often include group scheduling, project planning and information archival. These systems often integrate with email, time tracking and billing. You can think of this as a Personal Information Manager (PIM) that runs on a server (so it is accessible from any internet-connected location.)

Business Rational:

If your company has several employees that all work together on complex projects, you can see great benefit from using groupware in order to communicate and plan better.
Knowledge Base

Knowledge bases typically contain categorized lists of questions and answers (like an FAQ on steroids.)

Knowledge bases keep track of your companies most commonly asked questions and provide a good searching mechanism for answers to those questions. Often the most frequently asked questions will be presented to your customers when they enter the first page or a category page for your knowledge base.

There are not many pure knowledge base software solutions as these capabilities are typically included in other types of software. Many companies use a weblog or Content Management System to publish and deliver answers to common questions.

Business Rational:

Knowledge bases are often used by companies that have complicated products. They are used to reduce the number of phone and email contacts from customers, asking how products work or what to do in case of a problem.

Example Software:

Logfile Analyzer

When people come to your website and then click between pages the tracking information is generally saved in a file on your web server. There are some excellent tools that can help you to analyze how people are finding your site, what search terms they use to find you, where in the world they are coming from, which pages are being viewed most often, which pages and/or files are taking the most bandwidth, etc.

Most web hosting companies provide you with a control panel where you can mange your account. Generally there is an option to look at your statistics. In case this software is not provided or if you run your own server I have included links to several of the most common server logfile analysis programs.

Example Software:

Photo Album

Photo Albums present large numbers of photographs in a manageable way. Most photo album software allows you to organize, categorize and search through photos.

It is possible to integrate a photo album with an eCommerce solution and/or with an eCard system.

Business Rational:

Photo albums can provide real benefit to companies that want to present catalogues of visual information to their customers. Artists, Architects, Designers, Interior Decorators, Photographers, etc. This software makes it easy for novice users to a lot of pictures to a website.

Example Site:

Random HTML

Random HTML scripts allow you to dynamically switch content on your pages. Examples of information you might want to switch include: Quotes, Poems, Photos, Stories and Tips & Tricks.

Site Search

Site search allows your customers to search your site for particular words or phrases.

There is a wide variety of software available that can help with this. One simple solution is provided by Google. They allow you to add a search box to your site that only searches pages on your site.


A Weblog or Blog is like an online journal. You typically go to a special, password protected, page where you can publish entries/articles/posts. Entries are typically assigned to one or more categories. The date and time of the entry is stored in the system.

Most weblogs make it very easy for your site visitors to search by: keyword, date and category. The weblog software will usually create a front page that will contain your most recent entries. It will also create pages for all entries on a particular category and for all entries in a particular month. The weblog software will also create a unique page for each entry.

Most weblogs will inform one or more syndication websites every time you create or update an entry. These syndication sites will make it easy for people to find your pages. This can be a great way of driving traffic to your website.

It is usually possible to use a program on your personal computer to format and post entries to your weblog in addition to using the web interface. This can be a great way of writing articles while you are traveling. It can also simplify complex formatting problems.

Business Rational:

Using a weblog on your website (or even to control your whole site) will make it simple for any content creator at your company to update your site. These updates will be sent to syndication sites and ultimately to the big search engines. If you post useful information to your website regularly, customers will be more likely to return to your site and the search engines are more likely to take notice of your site. Search engines will often mark sites that contain a lot of useful information as subject authorities. This can greatly increase your placement with the search engines.

Wiki software allows you to create web pages that can be edited by anyone that comes to your website. Of course you can set them up so only people who you have a username and password can edit your pages. Wiki sites are generally very easy to edit and very quick to search.

Business Rational:

Wiki's can be used to great effect when you need to build online manuals for your products and/or services. They are often used by communities (your customers and or employees for example) to gather tribal-knowledge.

Example Sites:


There are a lot of tools available to business owners who want to utilize email in their marketing efforts. This section includes information about several types of email programs and some terminology related to email that you should know about.

There is a lot of feature overlap between Autoresponders, Mailinglists Managers and eMail Newsletter software. Historically there have been major differences, however at this point these applications tend to have more in common than they have differentiated features.

These programs allow your customers to Opt-In to your email newsletters, notices, flyers, etc. Because we are so sensitive to spam these days, many of these programs offer a Double Opt-In capability. Many of these programs also make it incredibly easy to add a sign-up form to your existing website.

Of course the software will make it easy for your customers to Opt-Out if they no longer wish to receive emails on a particular topic.

These programs usually allow you to import your existing customer lists so that you have a place to start from. Keep in mind that you have to have permission to send broadcast emails to people. There are many websites which cover the "Can-Spam" bill in way more detail than I can provide here.

Once you have a list of customer email addresses this software helps you to send email to large lists of people. This email may be formatted like a web page using HTML or may be plain text . The software can generally report on: how many people have opened your email (using a web bug) and which links in your email have been clicked (via Click-Through monitoring). The software can generally monitor for bounce messages and disable email addresses that are no longer available.

Example Software:

Example Site:

Blind Carbon Copy

When you send email to lots of people you should generally list all of the recipients in the Blind Carbon Copy field of the email. Doing this makes sure that your customers don't see each others email addresses.

If you want the recipients to be able to see each others email address you should use the Carbon Copy feature of your mail program.


When you send an email address it is not delivered instantaneously. The email is queued (often for a very short time) before being delivered. Your email program generally assumes that the message has been delivered once the message is in queue. So what happens if the recipient no longer exists? Your mail server will attempt to deliver all queued mail. If it is not able to deliver the message because the recipient does not exist, you will be sent an email message indicating that the message could not be sent. This email message from your mail server is called a bounce message.

When you are sending email to large lists of people you often find that some of the email addresses you have are no longer valid. Modern Autoresponders will typically monitor for bounce messages and deactivate an email address that is in-operable for a period of time.

Carbon Copy

When you are sending a memo to someone in your company you often need to send a copy to your boss and/or some of your co-workers. You can include all recipients in the To field of your email. However it is common practice to use the To field for the primary recipient(s) and the Carbon Copy (CC) field for everyone else. When people receive your email they will be able to see who the message was sent to and who was copied.

If you want to hide the recipient list you should use the Blind Carbon Copy feature of your mail program.


Software that helps you send email to lots of people in HTML format often allows you to track which links in your email have been visited by your users. Often this is taken to the extreme that you can tell which users have clicked on a particular link.

Double Opt-In

Please refer to the definition for Opt-In before continuing with this definition

When someone Opts-In to one of your campaigns, a confirmation email is sent to their email address asking them to go to a particular web page or to reply to the confirmation email in order to be added to your mailing list.

This prevents people from signing their friends or enemies up for unwanted content. If you are not a spammer this can be a great way of making sure you are not marked as spam by people receiving your messages unintentionally. The only down-side is that it requires people to perform an extra step before they are added to your mailing list.

HTML vs Text

HTML is the language that web pages are described with. Most people never see this language. HTML emails are essentially full web pages that can contain pictures, sounds and animations as well as pretty layouts that are delivered to user in their email inbox.

Normal, text or plain-text, email does not contain any formatting or embedded pictures, sounds or animations. It is simply textual information. It is possible to attach pictures, sounds and animations to text emails.

Some people on the internet are not able to view HTML emails. If you send them HTML email, they will probably see the HTML that describes your message. Since most people don't know how to read HTML, they will probably delete your email without trying to figure out what your message is.


As is often the case on the internet this term is over-loaded.

see Autoresponder

A mailinglist is simply a list of email addresses. Typically mailing lists are used to send email messages to groups of people that are interested in some common subject (like your newsletter or product update notices.)


Newsletter software allows you to send emails to lots of people. It generally allow you to deliver customized greetings to each of your recipients.

When you send HTML email using newsletter software you can often track who has opened your email and which links have been clicked.

Example Software:


Unless you are intentionally sending spam it is very important that you make sure that everyone on your business email lists has asked to receive communications from your company.

Opting-In can take several forms, someone might email you and ask you to keep them updated, or to send them your company newsletter. Or you might have a form on your web page where customers can enter their email address in order to be added to your mailinglist.


It is incredibly important (this is now required by law) for broadcast email (sent to many people) to include instructions telling people how to be removed from your mailinglist.

Two common approaches are: ask people to email you from the address they wish to have removed from your list or include a web page link in each of your broadcast communications that automates this process.

Web Bug

When you send HTML email it is possible to include a very small (invisible) image in the email. Through some clever web server trickery and by sending emails with slightly different image information to each of your recipients you can track who has opened your email.

If this page has been helpfull or interesting to you, please checkout my blissDROP Computer Consulting, Web Development page and consider hiring me to help you utilize these sorts of technologies on your website.