1.6 - Information Formats
2016 - Unit 2
The following formats are used to display information on the internet.
Web pages can be used for a diverse range of purposes including advertising products, reporting information, displaying images and eCommerce (online shopping).
There are two types of web page:
Static web page
Static web pages contain content that is pre-built and remains the same each time the page is loaded.
Static web pages are cheaper and easier to create and load quicker; they use basic HTML.
It can be changed by the site editor but will appear the same for everyone who has access to it, such as a classic promotional website for a small company.
Dynamic web page
Dynamic web pages are generated when they are loaded and can appear different to different users.
Dynamic web pages are harder to code but they can be linked to databases to allow them to show personalised content to whoever is viewing the site; they are written in server-side languages like PHP.
The Amazon homepage is an example of a dynamic web page as personalised deals based on previous user history will be shown if you are logged in with an account.
Blogs are used to share information with like-minded individuals, such as those who enjoy the same hobbies or beliefs. Charities, game developers and other businesses also use blogs as a way of updating their customer base with what they have done or what they are working on. Blogs can feature multimedia such as text, images, videos and links to other sites.
Advantages of Blogs
Disadvantages of Blogs
✓ Share information with followers in the format of text, images and video.
✓ Blogs and vlogs can unite people with similar interests, such as a cookery blog or travel vlog.
X Takes a lot of effort and time to create posts, especially if videos need to be edited before posting. Potential customers could be lost if blogs aren't updated regularly.
X It can be difficult to build up a customer base directly from a blog. Posts must be engaging, researched and correct.
A podcast is a downloadable audio file, usually on a certain topic such as sports or gaming that can be listened to when convenient for the user. Spotify and Apple Music have a wide library of podcasts.
Advantages of Podcasts
Disadvantages of Podcasts
✓ Podcasts are not (usually) recorded live, so they can be edited and uploaded at a certain time each week.
✓ Podcasts can be listened to when convenient for the user, so they can't 'miss' it and can catch up when is best for them.
✓ Podcasts are becoming more and more popular, so the possible audience base is growing each year. Celebrity guests are one way to entice more listeners.
X Takes time to record a podcast, especially if they need to be edited to add in music or sound effects or to remove mistakes.
X It can be difficult to build up an audience directly from a podcast. Podcasts should be on a topic that interests people and spoken in an engaging way.
Streamed Audio & Video
Streaming is the process of receiving video / audio data in a continuous flow. This allows the user to access the video / audio immediately, without having to wait for the file to download entirely.
For example, the BBC provide live radio streaming online for their radio shows and BBC iPlayer allows users to watch 'catch up' programs that previously aired. YouTube is a widely-used streamed video platform and Spotify is a popular streamed audio service.
Advantages of Streamed Media
Disadvantages of Streamed Media
✓ Streaming does not require data to be downloaded entirely before use - users can watch / listen as soon as the connection starts.
✓ Streaming is harder for users to share than downloading a file. Netflix uses this as a form of piracy protection.
X Streaming requires high bandwidth so users may suffer performance issues on slower devices and networks.
X Streaming requires a constant network connection compared to downloadable media which can be used when offline / outside.
Social Media Channels
Social media channels provide a huge amount of data on users in an informal space. Organisations can receive feedback through user posts and comments. Real-time statistics like views, likes and shares provide an insight to user opinion.
Social media channels include traditional sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as business and recruitment platforms such as LinkedIn. Discussion boards and forums, such as Reddit, are increasingly popular for users to discuss similar hobbies and interests such as politics, gaming and healthy eating.
Advantages of Social Media
Disadvantages of Social Media
✓ Social media can increase a business' online presence as it is online 24/7 for users to comment and interact with posts.
✓ Posts can be shared between users and their contacts, allowing a post to 'go viral' and be seen by potentially millions of viewers.
✓ Posts can be shared in different information styles such as text, images, video or hyperlinks to other websites.
✓ Businesses can use social media to communicate with their customers, such as direct messages on Facebook if a customer is unhappy.
X Businesses may need to hire a social media manager to interact with customers, update posts and remove spam.
X Negative posts can be shared and spread very quickly, such as if a customer complains about how a business treated them poorly.
X Businesses must be cautious about what they post, to not accidentally offend others and damage their reputation.
Emails can be used to provide information to a large amount of people almost instantly. A company may use an email to advertise new products, inform potential customers of a marketing promotion or target specific users based on previous interactions.
Advantages of Emails
Disadvantages of Emails
✓ Faster (almost instant) and cheaper (usually free) to send an email compared to traditional letters.
✓ Files can be attached to the email, such as images, videos or forms to complete.
✓ An audit trail can be kept, recording communication between the company and its customers.
✓ Emails can be sent, delivered and read at the user's convenience and to any internet-enabled device across the world.
X An internet connection is required to open and read the email. Larger attachments may not open on mobile devices.
X Malware can spread through email attachments. Phishers use emails to gain access to personal information and account details.
X Some attachments sent via email may be unreadable on different devices / operating systems.
X Emails may automatically go into the spam / junk folder and be deleted without being read.
Document stores allow users to store online files in cloud storage. Common services are Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft's OneDrive. Storing documents in the cloud allows users to edit and access them from any location with an internet connection and opens up opportunities for collaboration. Many organisations offer cloud storage space for free up to a certain amount before charging customers for more data.
Document stores are very convenient for users and replace the need for portable storage devices like USB sticks. Teachers can use documents stores to share resources with other staff in a school.
Documents stores can only be accessed with an internet connection so files will be unavailable during maintenance or network failure. Users rely on the cloud hosting provider, such as Microsoft and Google to keep the data secure and available.
RSS Feeds (short for Rich Site Summary) allow users to subscribe to updates from their favourite websites. It is a web feed that updates whenever a subscribed site releases new information. For example, the BBC used to post updates for important news headlines which appeared in a subscribed user's RSS feed.
As of 2020 most browsers no longer have built-in RSS functionality and it is rarely used.
1.6 - Information Formats:
1. Describe the difference between static and dynamic web pages. 
2. For each type of information format describe its advantages and disadvantages.
a. Blogs 
b. Podcasts 
c. Streamed Audio / Video 
d. Social Media 
e. Emails 
3. Explain how document stores could be used by organisations and individuals. 
4. Explain what an RSS feed is and how an organisation could use it.