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Proper Database Design for Effective Web Development

Databases are the wind beneath the wings of virtually every internet application from the simplest directory or blog to the most robust user-driven website. Of course, the complexity of the database scales with the requirements of the website itself. One thing is clear however: each database must be planned carefully if it is to operate securely and efficiently.

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Databases are the wind beneath the wings of virtually every internet application from the simplest directory or blog to the most robust user-driven website. Of course, the complexity of the database scales with the requirements of the website itself. One thing is clear however: each database must be planned carefully if it is to operate securely and efficiently.

Database designs for various applications come with their own set of best practices and guidelines in order to ensure they remain organized, and for effective interaction between site and database. This article provides the necessary steps when planning a database for website development.

Step 1: What functionality do you need it to have?

One planning approach is to constitute a team and brainstorm various aspects on the database e.g. what will be stored, what the site will use it for, among others. This is just a generalized scheme of thinking; planning for individual tables and field comes at a later stage.

The aim of this process is to generate a complete overview to be narrowed down in later stages. By going methodically, you will ensure that items are not forgotten. It may be difficult to edit and/or add items in later stages.

Think about what the site will do – what users will need to do, what information they will require and how this should be stored. Determine what information will be accessible for all users, and what will require special permissions e.g. if you’re running a site that requires registration for membership.

Step 2: Determine tables and individual fields

In this phase, determine precisely what tables the database will contain and the field that each table should have. This is the most important and most difficult stage of the planning process. In addition, you should establish how tables will be linked to each other, how data will be sorted in the table for continuity and ease of retrieval, if and how grouping or separation should be done. This is the time to go into every specific aspect, rearranging and reorganizing as you brainstorm with the web designers and database administrators, among others in your team.

Data modeling tools

These can make your work easier once you have a rough sketch of the site and information. Using database design tools, you can create database models, diagrams and flowcharts indicating your plan. There are many open-source tools for use as well as premium tools of varying capabilities depending on what exactly you need them to do.

Very likely, you will use the relational database scheme, which means that all tables will be related to each other in some way. If you need professional assistance, you can enlist the services of a remote DBA service to guide you, identify and correct any logical errors and tweak your model until you have a flowing design.

Step 3: Database normalization

This refers to the set of guidelines and best practices set up by the community to enable efficient organization of data within a database. A few of these practices have been outlined above already. There are five normal forms, which cannot be discussed here in detail, but resources on the same can be found on the internet.

You need to learn the basics of all five forms and ensure that your database conforms to these guidelines. There’s a lot to learn with website database design, but if the first two stages are correctly learned and followed, you as the developer will be able to get all the information you need to make the website work effectively and in a scalable manner.

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