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We Love ASP

When The Zambian first launched in 2000 it consisted of dozens and dozens of static HTML files. This was the easiest way to get content out. Give a contributor a copy of FrontPage or Dreamweaver and they could create all the content they wanted. The only problem with this approach was everything about it. From the size of the page, to the layout to the very core fundamentals of good design, everything was wrong. For example, the home page of the site came in at around 80KB which on a 28.8 Kbps modem would take forever to download. Why on earth would you use a 28.8 Kbps connection? Well in the year 2000, most of our statistics indicated that our target audience would be using Windows computers running Internet Explorer with screen resolutions of 800 * 600 pixels and connecting to the Internet over dial-up connections. At the same time, our general Search Engine Optimization (SEO) understanding at that time was that the meta tags were the key to getting placed higher on search results. So a page on our site included typical page content and also the following header:

<link rel=”Shortcut Icon” href=”“>
<title>Gateway to Zambia – The Zambian</title>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=iso-8859-1″>
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Language” content=”EN”>
<meta name=”SUBJECT” content=”Regional : Africa : Zambia”>
<meta name=”ABSTRACT” content=”News and information resource site for Zambia”>
<meta name=”AUTHOR” content=”The Zambian”>
<meta name=”COPYRIGHT” content=”© 1999-2004 The Zambian. All rights reserved.”>
<meta name=”CREATOR” content=”The Zambian |“>
<meta name=”DESCRIPTION” content=”Internet portal on Zambia with news, travel information, message boards and pictures on Zambia for tourists and residents”>
<meta name=”DISTRIBUTION” content=”Global”>
<meta name=”HOST” content=”The Zambian |“>
<meta name=”KEYWORDS” content=”Zambia, Zambian, Zambians, Shopping, Government, Statistics, Chat, Women, Music, Safari, Religion, Pictures, News, Online, Map, Flag, Newspapers, Economy, Information, History, Sports, Tourism, Lusaka, Livingstone, Victoria Falls, Copper, Emeralds, Copperbelt, Africa, ZCCM, Chipolopolo, Rhodesia”>
<meta name=”METAVER” content=”2.1 | 060500 0159a”>
<meta name=”PUBLISHER” content=”The Zambian |”>
<meta name=”RATING” content=”General”>
<meta name=”REVISIT-AFTER” content=”1 days”>
<meta name=”ROBOTS” content=”all, follow, index”>
<meta name=”ICBM” content=”-12.80083, 28.21111″>
<meta name=”DC.title” content=”The Zambian”>
<link rel=”stylesheet” type=”text/css” title=”Style” href=”/styles/default.css” mce_href=”/styles/default.css”>

It soon reached a point where editing the content on the page was becoming exceedingly tedious. This became even more apparent when someone pointed out that the spelling of a word on our site was wrong and this word happened to be repeated in the header of every single page. We were soon spending more time keeping track of changes than actually publishing relevant content on Zambia.

In 2001, after spending some time experimenting with SQL 2000 and ASP, it was decided that the next version of the site would have to incorporate some form of a database backend to bring some order to our world of publishing, editing and reviewing content.

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