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Part III: Developing a Data-Driven Web S... > Creating Visitor Accounts Through Us...

Chapter 8. Creating Visitor Accounts Through Username Validation

Over the last few years, there has been a substantial increase in the number of sites that are allowing visitors to create and maintain their own user accounts. Most of these sites allow their visitors to browse through the “public” sections of their site, but require the creation of an individual account when it comes time to order products, contribute content, or view pages that the organization just doesn’t want available to the general public. In most cases, the visitor is asked to provide the appropriate demographic information, select a username, and then choose a password. This information is stored in a database, and registered users can return to the site at any time, log in to their accounts, and surf the site in its entirety.

Registering visitors has the added benefit of providing organizations with the ability to gain a more detailed understanding of who is visiting the site and to develop custom content that focuses on the individual visitor. For instance, some sites currently track the search terms that are used to locate products. This information is then used to customize the site’s content to meet the perceived needs of the visitor during the next visit. Whether it be for purchasing products, searching for a job, or maybe just playing a few games online, many sites are customizing content for their visitors based upon their activities while logged in to an individual account.

From a Web developer’s point of view, adding this functionality to a site has the added benefit of providing you with the ability to collect valuable information about your visitors. Whether it be a shipping address so you can quickly deliver products or an email address so you can notify customers of upcoming promotions, the more you know about your visitors, the more likely you can develop content that suits their needs. For instance, if you track the expressions entered into a product search box, you might be able to better understand what items your customer wanted to see and be able to add products that you might not have previously offered.

To assist you in adding individual accounts to your site, UltraDev has several built-in server behaviors that speed up the development process. In particular, this chapter focuses on three things:

  • Enabling visitors to create individual accounts

  • Protecting pages from unauthenticated visitors

  • Testing your new pages



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