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S&A Resource Library

Web-based Tools
(Interactivity for The Rest of Us!)

Volume 1, Number 1 -- Mar. 10, 2003

        FEATURED ARTICLE: What are web-based tools and what can they do?

Seidel & Associates has been specializing in intuitive user experience design since 1996. Now, with the addition of dynamic management tools to our repertoire, S&A is implementing data-driven content administration capabilities for our clients. This mean that for a modest sum, we are able to provide our clients with an online admin tool which will allow them to update content to specific aspects of their web site.

from our clients
  » Stay informed about S&A's dynamic tools:
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This is the premier issue of Web-based Tools (Interactivity for the Rest of Us!). We intend this to be informational regarding the benefits these tools bring to organizations and their web teams, how organizations are using them and ways they find them useful, and to spotlight new tools as we develop them.

As always, your feedback is both welcome and encouraged. Send comments and questions to:

If you would like to add a friend, associate or fellow employee to the Web-based Tools newsletter mailing list, please use the subscription form on this page. If you would prefer not to receive this newsletter in the future, please use the contact info at the end of this text.

Thank you and we hope you find Web-based Tools informative.

Connie Seidel, Editor & Sr. Web Developer, Seidel & Associates

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FEATURED ARTICLE: What are web-based tools and what can they do?

Briefly, web-based tools as we use the term here are online, browser-based administration screens that allow the "owner" of a web site the ability to create, control, edit and delete content on their web site. With a system like this in place, a member of the organization that controls the web site is able to log in to an online system, do tasks like update their Home page content, create a message board topic, develop and deliver newsletters to their client or member base, create and update a calendar, or any other of a number of tasks related to the content on their site. While logged into the system, making changes or creating new content, the user of the system is directly interacting with an online database. Once finished with a task, when the user clicks "update" or some other final button command, the database and the web page(s) connected to that data is updated.

Perhaps you can see the benefit of a system like this. A person in your office could be responsible for maintaining the information on a certain web page, be it a calendar, an event schedule, a message board, etc. With little or no training, and certainly no expressed knowledge of databases, HTML or other coding languages, update tasks can be completed as easily as you would sign up for this newsletter. Well, that's in the best cases anyway.

What are the impediments to these systems?
Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and web pages were text-based on grey backgrounds, the dream of delivering content to web pages dynamically from a database was just that... a dream!

Now, it's 2003 and it's "old hat." It's been done. So, why is it that you're not doing it? Well, probably cost, lack of IT or software development personnel, lack of resources, or a combination thereof.

Not too long ago, during the height of the dot-com boom, development companies were waltzing out new content management tools with regularity. Venture capitalists were grinning ear to ear, and employees were rushing to be hired by start-ups in anticipation of riding the crest of the new wealth wave. A surprisingly fair portion of these start-ups and the IPOs that followed were for companies that either built content management software either to license and sell, or to deploy content to their own web sites. Companies that previously had been building back-office systems also got into the act by implementing their own versions of similar functionality.

It all made sense then. Controlling and delivering content was the torch song for virtually every web-based company. It still makes sense... no issue there. If there's an issue now, it is that the cost of licensing and implementing these systems requires big budgets, specialized staffing, and time.

While developers of the boom-time's content management tools are struggling to maintain their six-digit pricing matrix or have disapeared all together, another direction that is now on the rise is third-party content management: contracting with another web-based provider to deliver either your content, tools to allow you to deliver your own content, or both. Seidel & Associates fits into this category (although we firmly believe we're doing the better job).

"It's still about design, silly"
Just as visual and user experience design can make your web site, and by association you, stand out and look professional, design is at the heart of our admin tool design.

First of all, comprehensive database design and development to support the content these tools interact with has been intelligently mapped out. Next we've designed a user interface to put on the administrative functions built into the individual tools that is intuitive, friendly, and self-training. And to top it off, the content delivered from the database fits seamlessly into the visual design of your web pages.

With a background in working with nonprofit organization and small to medium size businesses, we are completely familiar with both the needs of our clients and the capacity they have to purchase, install and operate such tools. We think that puts us ahead in the field.

Tools that can really benefit
We have listened to our clients over the years and realized that finally, with today's web technologies, it is completely possible to implement tools that cover a broad range of functions. We have also listened to our client's budget requirements and developed tools that we can implement in an extremely affordable plan. Our outlook is that no web site should have to suffer because of funding. There is truly a way to deliver professional quality to out clients, no matter the budget.

Coming to a web site near you soon...
We will be implementing a short "tour" of our tools and their admin screens, along with a "demo" web site in the very near future. You can "watch this space" as they say, to learn more about the tools we're bringing to our clients; real tools that do real jobs on real web sites, like page content management, event schedule builders and editors, survey tools, message boards and monitoring administration, newsletter subscriber lists and copy editing tools... We're building tools fast to keep up with the needs of our clients.

Or, if you're too interested to wait, please call us at 650.424.8243, or contact us at

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Connie Seidel, Seidel & Assoc., and