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The Price Comparison Website Design Information Technology Essay

5229 words (21 pages) Essay in Information Technology

5/12/16 Information Technology Reference this

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In this era of online shopping when more and more buyers are going online to make purchases, price comparison sites have really proved their worth. Studies show that more and more buyers use price comparison websites to compare the prices and features before making the purchase. It may looks easy from a concept viewpoint, but they aren’t after adding all the details involved. This paper gives a clear concept on making a website and maintaining a database system.

Introduction

For someone who wants to save money, and receive the best value for money, they may meditate comparison shopping. Though it sounds deadening, but it can actually be challenging and rewarding. Analysing brands to find out the best value for the price will be helpful to everyone. It’s not just for to get the best products for their family, but will also help to save money long term. Even if they don’t exactly exercise frugal living in all areas of your life, they can still practice comparison shopping to get the most of money when certain purchases have been made.(1)

Shopping comparison now a days is more than comparing prices. Finding the cheapest items it not the main purpose, detecting the best quality items for the least amount of money is the main challenge. That’s why comparison shopping is becoming an industry of its own.

Comparison shopping engines are suchlike a typical search engine, where we can look for a specific item of interest. And then it comes as a list of price and retailer. It also shows customer review to check before buy anything.

To make a price comparison site is not automatic basically it is a manual task. Need to create automatic scripts to try and make automatic all that manual work. Just editing feeds manually is very time consuming even if we just concentrate on a small range as merchants do not provide data to us in a way that the price comparison site needs to work properly.

Three steps to a price comparison site

1: Universal data feed importer with Data handling, auto categorisation, data ruleset manager, character manipulation, find and replace, delete and merge facilities. interface, administrator accounts/admins

2: Advertiser login and reporting services, universal product data services, universal site scraping services to collect feeds for merchants that cant/won’t provide them

3: Marketing tools, traffic managers to monitor incoming outgoing traffic to make sure purchased traffic is equal or less than the money/sales we are making from our own site for those purchased keywords.

In today’s era of low-carbohydrate diets and obsessive exercise routines,

people are more careful with food choices.(2)To cover the 21st century necessities fast food restaurants accommodate the cheap food quickly. Is that food healthy enough? Regrettably, these foods are not always the healthiest choices. So how tourists or new people can find good foods but cheap price in their locality?

As the present economic problems in the UK is fluctuating and day by day its getting fractious , I’ve started questioning which restaurant food is the cheapest and giving better deal to the attract their customers. I decided to do a little comparison check, taking prices from some major restaurants. This project is aimed at demonstrative price comparison website where people can compare foods, restaurants and value of their daily needs. They will also be able to read reviews from customers who have already dined in the same restaurant they are looking for. I have tried to explain all the technologies of behind the scene of a Price Comparison website.

The Web is a user-directed medium, where people adopt information-seeking strategies to save time. They tend not to seek information in a linear fashion. Instead, they rely on the visual cues that give off the strongest signal that their answer is nearby. People direct their attention to these areas and ignore everything else.

AIM: To design a restaurant comparison website.

Objectives:

Agree aim with supervisor and develop set of objectives.

Build a solid understanding of web developing and database management.

Discuss and agree initial design approach with supervisor.

Background research on web development tools such as HTML, SQL, PHP , JAVASCRIPT and ASP.NET

Discuss prototype design with supervisor and agree implement

Implement website.

Test and check the information provided.

Implement database.

Data Importation and Manipulation

Information updating

Test the database

Link the database and website.

Link the database with the company’s so that the database can be dynamic.

Make the website secured for the customer

Testing experimentally the proposed approaches

Renewing results and write project report.

Deliverables

Project arrangement form

Initial project report

Prototype working demonstration

Detailed logbook with all project data, experimental result and outcomes recorded.

Presentations and viva

Project meeting record sheet

Technical Background and Context

There are lots of price comparison websites. It would be hard-fought to compete with big names like Kelko or pricerunner. Compare to those my website is bit different. I am comparing restaurants. Imagine we went to someplace in Spain and have no idea about nearest restaurants and foods. I like to have Indian foods but don’t know where I can find good Indian restaurants there. Then my website will step in. Just write down area name choose food type that sit. All local restaurants will show up. Even we will able to compare customer reviews and prices. It is lots of job to do. But primarily I am going to test some limited places and restaurants.

How to Build a Price Comparison Service

To start making a price comparison service is quite challenging. Some technological expertise involves in it. Depending on the class of design we would like to demonstrate, this type of project could require prodigious amount of financing. After huge research I have described below basic idea step by step how to start a price comparison service.[3]

Step 1

The most important thing in starting price-comparison site is to reserve the indispensable bandwidth and server for hosting purpose. A number of companies can be found offering affordable bandwidth and server to set-up website. Before purchasing need to be sure server provider supports server side scripts such as PHP, JAVA and also allows database program like SQL. Own laptop or desktop can be used as a server by installing program such as Wamp server, Xamp and Apache.

Step 2

If I would like to design my website in a highly specialized format I might need to hire professional web developer. Some freelance programmers will show through basic internet search. If we would like to go for freelance programmer it is essential to check whether they have performed this kind of task before or not.

Step 3

In that case I have decided to not going to hire programmer, I still be able to provide my service by using Content Management System (CMS). Through a CMS I can produce my content by using a user friendly dashboard application. This content is then formatted into users viewable fascinating internet facing application. Several free content management system can be found through internet search.

Step 4

After successful running of website need to get the word out about the service I am providing. The easy way is to find bloggers who wants to visit my site and write reviews. This word of mouth can create magic in the internet community.

Step 5

Next thing is to pick up an advertising and affiliate site that will allow me to do display banner and text ads about my site. All affiliate plans is not same and not even pay same rate.

Technology

The most challenging part of comparison website is how to collect date from merchants. One way is to contact with them and collect data directly from them. Retailers will supply their own lists of products and prices. Then these are matched against original database. This can be done by mixture of human labour and information extraction. [5]

Another common way is to collect data thorough a data feed file. Merchants provide information electronically in a set format. Comparison website then imports data. Consolidation of data feeds can be found from some third party businesses so we do not have to import data from many different merchants. Affiliate networks like Linkshare and Commission Junction also add up data feeds from various merchants and provide it comparison sites.

Third approach is to crawl the web for information and prices. In this method Comparison service scans retail sites and collects information rather than waiting for them to supply data. This is also known as ‘Scrapping’ information. Suitable for smaller independent sites to get strait prices from the website they need.

Crowd-sourching is another technique. Through this technique price comparison engine can acquire data from almost any source without complexities of building crawler. Even don’t need to set up data feeds. Actually in this technique visitors import data. Price comparison site collaborated the data with related inputs and finally add with their main database using collaborative filtering, artificial intelligence or human labour. Wishabi which is a Canadian based price comparison site is an example that applies this technique.[6]

Anyways, some combination of these approaches can be used as well. It is hard to say which one is most effective, it only depends type of business.

How Web Server Work

The Basic Process

Let’s say that you are sitting at your computer, surfing the Web, and you get a call from a friend who says, “I just read a great article! Type in this URL and check it out. It’s at http://www.howstuffworks.com/web-server.htm.” So you type that URL into your browser and press return. And magically, no matter where in the world that URL lives, the page pops up on your screen.

At the most basic level possible, the following diagram shows the steps that brought that page to your screen:

Fig:

Your browser formed a connection to a Web server, requested a page and received it.

Behind the Scenes

If you want to get into a bit more detail on the process of getting a Web page onto your computer screen, here are the basic steps that occurred behind the scenes:

The browser broke the URL into three parts:

The protocol (“http”)

The server name (“www.howstuffworks.com”)

The file name (“web-server.htm”)

The browser communicated with a name server to translate the server name “www.howstuffworks.com” into an IP Address, which it uses to connect to the server machine.

The browser then formed a connection to the server at that IP address on port 80. (We’ll discuss ports later in this article.)

Following the HTTP protocol, the browser sent a GET request to the server, asking for the file “http://www.howstuffworks.com/web-server.htm.” (Note that cookies may be sent from browser to server with the GET request — see How Internet Cookies Work for details.)

The server then sent the HTML text for the Web page to the browser. (Cookies may also be sent from server to browser in the header for the page.)

The browser read the HTML tags and formatted the page onto your screen.

Domains & Hosting

Before we get started, we understand that EVERY website must have two things…

1) A domain name

2) A web host

Domain Names

The domain name is the address of our website (yoursite.com) an the web host is the company that allows to publish our pages to the Internet, create e-mail addresses ([email protected]) and develop additional, features like chat rooms, forums, shopping carts, feedback forms etc.

Web Hosting

A web host is the company that provides the server space for our web pages and whatever files we need for your website. We will be uploading our website files to our host. This is how a website becomes visible on the Internet.

Now we need to build a solid database system. To create a database system we have to set what exactly we need from this database. We need to use database server such as SQL, Microsoft Access or Oracle.

At first glance price comparison web sites look easy from a concept viewpoint, but they aren’t after thinking of all the details involved.

1. Data Importation and Manipulation: Not all merchants gives formatted data, pictures may be in unsuitable widths and heights, may have to factor in duplicate content, and think of rule sets for every merchant.

Product descriptions may contain html entities that will need to be replaced or removed in my code.

2. Information updating: We have to accurately update product information such as price and availability. As well as removing discontinued items from our db.

SBI

This option is best if we want to make money online. If we buy Site Build It! (SBI!) then we do not need to register a domain name or select a hosting company.

SBI! has all the tools in one place, including domain, hosting, a website builder, template designs, brainstorming tools , a newsletter manager, tracking tools, site statistics and most importantly — help with marketing and our website.

We also have access to their forums where we can chat and get help from other SBI! customers and the SiteSell staff.

What Type of Site is SBI! Best For?

Site Build It! is really best for affiliate marketing and ecommerce websites.

An affiliate site is one that provides content/information on a specific topic and makes money by recommending related products. The companies that own the products pay you a commission for any sale your site generates.

Most affiliate programs are completely free to join and the companies pay by either check or direct deposit. To find out if a website has an affiliate program simply visit their homepage and look near the header or footer for something like “Affiliate Program” or “Partner Program.”

Ecommerce Website / Selling Hard Goods

To create a website that sells actual products then some kind of shopping cart system will be needed in addition to domain and web host.

There are several ways to go about setting up a shopping cart but I am going to introduce the most popular..

1) Installing a shopping cart system through our hosting account

2) Using PayPal

Shopping Cart Systems

Most domain registrars / web hosting companies have shopping cart solutions we can purchase as add-ons for website.

For example, Website Palace has one here. After choosing this option, there will be some setup required, so we have to get the instructions from the web host.

Collecting Online Payments

To handle credit card transactions we have to either setup a merchant account or use a 3rd party solution like PayPal.

PayPal is probably the easiest payment system to setup and does not cost as much as the merchant account solutions provided by most web hosts. Signing up with PayPal is free and the only cost to use their shopping cart/checkout system is the fee we pay per transaction.*

Using PayPal By Itself

PayPal can be used without setting up a shopping cart. If our website is only going to sell a few items then we may be able to get away with just setting up a few “Buy Now” buttons and directing customers to PayPal to purchase. But for selling multiple items then some kind of shopping cart system required.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is probably one of the most convenient ways to monetize our website or blog. This program is free and we can be partner with Google by promoting their sponsored ads on our site. `’

Every time an ad is clicked on our site, Google pays a percentage (undisclosed) of what the advertiser is paying them for the click.

Google’s technology can read our pages. So they will determine what our page is about. And when just need to paste the AdSense code on our pages, their technology will generate ads relevant to our content – thus increasing the chances that your visitors will click.

Applying For AdSense

Once your website or blog has several pages of useful, unique and organized content, we can go to http://adsense.google.com and apply.

But before applying a website must meet the following requirements…

1) Must be hosted on a true domain name (yourdomain.com) So that means you cannot use a Blogger blog without pointing it to your own domain

2) Your domain must be at least 6 months old

3) Content must be original and unique

Selling Ad Space

Once we start getting traffic to our site, we may want to think about selling flat-rate ads to other advertisers.

This is different from contextual ad programs like AdSense because there will be charge a flat fee and the ad may run for a week, month, or whatever decided.

It is wise to definitely wait until having a few hundred visitors per day before think of selling ad space.

Using Ad Management Software

OpenX

If we want to keep all the profits ourself, the best thing to do is use own ad management software. OpenX is probably one of the most popular, free scripts out here. It can be integrated with PayPal, and the setup is fairly easy. OpenX supports image and text ads.

.

Building Traffic to Your Site or Blog

Building targeted traffic is the most challenging task of owning a website.

My ability to drive targeted traffic to my site will probably be the determining factor for whether I am succeeded or fail.

Many people assume that if they have a great idea for a site, the traffic will just come.

People don’t just stumble upon websites like they do stores on a street. I have to drive traffic to my site through either paid advertising or other online methods.

This is where I need my creative cap because marketing my site effectively is

DATABASE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (DBMS)

There are two types of Database management systems (or DBMSs) —desktop databases and server databases. Basically desktop databases are for single-user applications and reside on standard personal computers.

On the other hand server databases include such mechanism that ensures the reliability and consistency of data and are also adapted toward multi-user applications. These databases are suitable for high-performance servers and usually carry higher price tag.

Before dive in and perpetrate to a database solution a strong analysis needed. May be desktop database is more than enough for some business requirements while they are planning to get an expensive server-based solution.

Instead of brain storming about database management system we might try to find answers following questions: [8]

Who will be using the database and what tasks will they perform?

How often will the data be modified? Who will make these modifications?

Who will be providing IT support for the database?

What hardware is available? Is there a budget for purchasing additional hardware?

Who will be responsible for maintaining the data?

Will data access be offered over the Internet? If so, what level of access should be supported?

Once we have acquired all the answers to these questions in our hand, we are ready to begin the process of evaluating specific database management systems. We can actually verify what type of data base we should use depending on our business requirements.

Desktop Databases

Where effortless data storage and manipulation requires, desktop databases is a low budget and simple solution. From their name we can easily understand that they are designed to run on “desktop” (or personal) computers. Microsoft Access, FoxPro, FileMaker Pro, Paradox and Lotus Approach are the major players in this field.

After analysing a few of the benefits of a desktop database, key factors of desktop database are [9]:

Desktop databases are inexpensive. Most desktop solutions are available for around $100. In fact, if we have Microsoft office, we are already a license holder of a Microsoft Access.

Desktop databases are user-friendly. A professional SQL programmers is not required when using these systems as Desktop DBMSs usually have an easy accessible graphical user interface.

Desktop databases offer web solutions. Even some modern desktop databases offers web functionality that enables us to publish our data on the web in a statically or dynamically.

Server Databases

Using server databases, such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and IBM DB2, organizations can efficiently manage large amounts of data and not only that they can also simultaneously access and update the data. A server-based database provides a comprehensive data management solution for someone who carries the hefty price tag.

There are various benefits achieved by using a server-based system which are listed below [10]:

Flexibility. Server-based database has programmer-friendly application programmer interfaces (or APIs) that can interact with almost any challenges of data management problem .The Oracle platform is even accessible from different operating systems, such as Linux.

Powerful performance. Server-based databases are as powerful as you want them to be. The major players are capable of utilizing efficiently just about any reasonable hardware platform that you’re able to construct for them. Modern databases are able to manage multiple high-speed processors, clustered servers, high bandwidth connectivity and fault tolerant storage technology.

Scalability. This attribute goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. Just depending on to provide the necessary hardware resources, server databases can graciously handle a rapidly expanding amount of users and/or data.

DATA FEED VS SCREEN SCRAPING

A data feed holds structured form of products information. Data feeds are most commonly based on MS Excel, MS Access, or a text file were every value is separated by commas, pipes, or tabs. A data feed acts as a backbone of a comparison engine from which products information can be derived and displayed.

A good source of qualified traffic can be Comparison engines because products are comparable based on detailed descriptions, prices, and consumer reviews by shoppers before clicking on listing.

Data feeds are helpful in (at least) three ways [11]:

They can be used to ensure the success of our marketing campaign on a comparison engine by optimizing our product listings. (One way to do that is to list only those products that are converting profitably.)

By creating and managing carefully our data feeds we can be assured that our customers have access to complete and up-to-date information about our products and prices.

Feeds give significant flexibility in creating compelling, keyword-rich product descriptions versus “snipped” comparison engine descriptions, which are sometimes incoherent keyword gibberish.

Typically we need the following information in most comparison site data feeds.[12]

· Manufacturer

· Manufacturer Part Number

· Your Part Number (internal if different from manufacturer)

· Universal Product Code (if applicable)

· Product Name

· Product Description

· Link (directly to the product on your site)

· Product Image URL (link directly to the product picture on your site)

· Selling Price

· In Stock? (Yes or No)

· Shipping Rates (rate for Ground, 2nd Day, Next Day, etc.)

· Category (often depends on the site)

How to create a data feed with these requirements?

For large retailers or big house developers it is easy to satisfy all this requirements. But for small developers, satisfying these requirements will be quite challenging as they don’t have development or database experience. However they can actually create data feed manually.[13]

To do this need to start a new Excel workbook and keying in the headings of each column into the first row. Thereafter, actual product information need to enter for each respective column, one product per line.After completed entering all the product information, save the file in a “.csv” format. The information for all the comparison engines can be edited and customized once we have a general data feed.

Comparison engine requirements may not be the same. Have to be careful about account for specific comparison engine. A quick example would be that DealTime might want “Link” as the column heading for the product link while PriceGrabber might want “URL”. All we required to do is save a copy of our data feed and re-label that column from “Link” to “URL”.

How to update and maintain data feeds?

Primarily there are three ways to get products loaded and updated on comparison engines:

The first way is to “Link” our data feed that the comparison site can schedule for a download (usually once a day). This is a direct link to our data feed on one of your own servers. For example http://www.acmeproducts.com/datafeeds/acmedatafeed.csv

All we need to do to make any changes to our products or prices is to edit the data feed file at that location and the changes will be reflected on the next download from the comparison site (usually within 24 hours).

The second is an FTP upload where we will upload our file to a specific FTP location on the comparison site’s servers. The comparison site will provide instructions on how to upload file. In this case, there updating the products will be depending whether we upload a new file.

The third way is a “site crawl” or “spider” of our products. Because of its time consuming option not so many comparison engines still offer this feature. It also need a bit of set up on the comparison sites part.

Scraping a website means saving the HTML (the code that makes up web pages) temporarily and then using regular expressions to match for the important pieces of data. There are a number of software packages available that facilitate scraping. A very popular one is appropriately called screen-scraper

Screen scraping is the most difficult way to obtain search results because the result data is not structured in a way that makes it easy to identify the fields in the result records. Unfortunately, however, screen scraping is also the most prevalent approach to extracting field data because a majority of the content that is published electronically is expected to be consumed by humans and not by search engines. Fortunately, the use of structured result data is increasing.

There is an important point to make about the issues with screen scraping we just enumerated. First, humans can deal with ambiguous structure and missing fields much more easily than computers can. Humans have no trouble identifying titles, authors, and other fields without being explicitly told what the fields are. Humans can ignore ads, footers, and headers with little effort. Humans can find links to subsequent results. Computers have to work much harder to obtain the same results.

Technical Approach

Steps to create a database in PHPMyAdmin

The following figure shows your PHPMyAdmin interface, just enter your database name and click the ‘Create’ button to create your database.

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for Database creation.

Now to create a new table enter your tablename and the number of fields in the table, then click the ‘Go’ Button.

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for Table creation.

The next step is to create the fields, just enter values for each field name, type, length of the field, null option and mention whether it is a primary key or not. Then click the ‘Save’ button to complete your table creation.

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for Field creation.

The following figure is displayed upon successful creation of your table:

Steps for insert, edit & delete operations using PHPMyAdmin

To insert a record into a table, click the ‘Insert’ button as indicated by the arrow in the figure below:

Figure showing MySQL Database in PHPMyAdmin interface.

Next step is to enter the values for each fields and click the ‘Go’ button to insert the record into the table.

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for Insert operation.

The screen after successful insertion is shown as below, now click the ‘Browse’ button to view the list of records in the table.

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for successful insert.

To edit a particular record use the edit button, make the necessary changes to the selected record and then click the ‘Go’ button to save the changes to the database.

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for Edit operation.

To Delete a particular record, first select the record and click the ‘Delete’ button. To delete more than one record, use the checkbox to select them and then click the ‘Delete’ button.

Deletion of a single record:

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for Delete operation.

Deletion of a list of selected records (for more than one record):

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for Multiple record Deletion operation.

Confirmation of deletion:

Figure showing PHPMyAdmin interface for confirmation of deletion.

Conclusion

We try to spend as much time as we can, to check whether or not we are buying a right thing? And the most important; whether we are buying it at a reasonable rate or not? Providing the ability to compare products is at the heart of what comparison sites are trying to achieve. However, those sites are achieving this with varying levels of success. My target of website is simply log on to my website, learn about the products, search and browse the options and shop with satisfaction of trust and all these at your door steps.

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