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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007

    Lightbulb Unanswered: Need advice, help, options please

    Im not a programmer, just a designer and a bit rusty at that. I need help with a small site issue.

    What we have is a site listing around 200 or so different items, for sale of course. Each item is added to the site pages manually (ie part #, description, and photo for each listing). All transactions are done offline so no shopping cart, ergo no need for a database, or so I thought. Here is the catch.

    Visitors interested in an item contact us through a form on the site. The problem: visitors rarely include the part # or part description in the form data when they contact us making it difficult for us to track down which item they are interested in. Many items, all similar, and they move fairly quickly. Its unruly! I dont want to use a form validator, Id rather just make it easier on the visitors to get us the info we need without all the hassle of typing in part #'s etc.

    The solution: find an easy way for visitors to contact us regarding a specific item, preferably through a form, that contains all the info we need. Ideally, clicking a link from the page the item is on would bring up a new page with the form filled in as completely as we can on our end. Hidden fields for part numbers etc are acceptable, as long as we get a customers name associated with a part # and some other info (perhaps even a thumbnail of the item?).

    Im thinking its time to set up a database; it will make maintaing our inventory easier, speed up additions to the site, and we should then be able to get a program that will do what i want it to, I think.

    Your thoughts? Our hosting company offers Mysql, and they will do the programming, for a price. I assumed PHP would be the best choice but again, im not a programmer. I understand Access works for administering the db. Keep in mind most of the site maintenance etc is done by office folks, no real experience in such things so ease of use is important.

    Any ready made packages out there that I can configure? Any ways other than server side programming to acheive my goal? Any help is mucho appreciated. Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    out on a limb
    Provided Answers: 59
    if you have relatively few items.. and I'd guess 200 items counts as relatively few then why not consider using a flat file. and validate against that. you don't especially need the complexity of the db.

    if you are conversant with PHP then getting to storing data in MySQL isn't particularly problematic, unless you have little or no systems design experience then you may have a problem. Not becuase its diffiluct or complex or particularly arcane.. just that it can be a bit of a learnign curve to get things working in PHP (or any development language for that matter.

    have you thought of putting the product ID as part of the URL as part of the form that users use to contact you. youmay be able to achieve some of this buy using a bit of javascript.

    can you have sesions in plain vanilla HTML? I forget its sol long since I lasy used standard HTML.....

    you may be abel to fake your back end processing by using Javascript to accumulate the products a person has shown interest in.

    however there is one area that having a db backend may assist on, and that is providing a mechanism to allow users to drill down through your products to find something they like. leveraging the power of the db also can help you work out who has shown interest in what, what products are being looked at but not being bought, it can also help build profiles of your customers, it can help you get in touch with your customers.. none of these are earth shattering or vital must haves, but they together they can all help.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    A simple way i would suggest for you as you are not a programmer:

    Simply put your visitor form at the end of your product detail page and make it's display hidden and put a hidden field name it as productcode that will be unique for each product having it's initial value empty; when a user select a product by clicking link in front of each product, update hidden field value using javascript remember each link for product will have code for productcode.

    Product 1: <a onclick="javascript:document.getElementById('produ ctcode').value='pro-1'; document.getElementById('visitorfrm').style.displa y='all'">Purchase Product 1</a>

    Product 2: <a onclick="javascript:document.getElementById('produ ctcode').value='pro-2'"; document.getElementById('visitorfrm').style.displa y='all'">Purchase Product 2</a>

    <div id='visitorfrm' style="display:none">
    <form name="visitorreplyform" method="post">
    <input type="hidden" name="productcode" id="productcode" value="">
    <input type="text" name="comment" />
    <input type="submit" value="submit">
    Try above process might it works for you

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