The answer to this question can vary quite a bit based on the complexity and feature set of the website. Other factors can also contribute such as the skill set of the designer / developer and budget set for the project.
There are lots opinions in what level of complexity is needed for each situation / project. For example, if you’re looking for a simple online brochure website it is debatable whether a business layer is actually needed within the website. Below are the common layers found within a website / application. Always find out what layers will be included in your website and why or why not they decide to use them. Their answers should be direct and clear enough to understand.
The most basic architecture for a website is a simple webpage written in HTML. This is acceptable for the most simple of websites that don’t plan on any changes or upgrades in the foreseeable future.
Taken a step further, a websites presentation layer (fonts, colors, layout, etc.) can be removed from the content. This is usually accomplished by using a technology called .CSS (cascading style sheets). This allows updating the look and feel of the website easily without altering the content.
Once a website needs to display information to the screen differently for individual users then a higher level programming layer is needed. This is accomplished by using languages such as ASP.NET or php. This allows for business logic to be stored in the web page and displayed on the screen based on responses from the user.
Given a lot of business logic, a website can contain a business layer. This removed the business logic from the web pages themselves and creates a distinct layer that deals only with the business rules. This is very useful in creating robust and flexible websites that separate user interactions with the rules behind the site itself.
If the information collected from a user needs to be stored or products need to be displayed then a data storage layer is needed. Examples of these items would be a user’s login information or an online store that displays products. This information is stored in a database and accessed by the business layer to display on the web pages. Even more robust systems will create a true data layer on top of the database in order to retrieve the data and then send it to the business layer. This gives enormous flexibility such as caching, connecting to multiple data source, etc.
More robust websites can contain even more layers allowing for more growth and flexibility in the future.
With so many layers how do you know what you need? A professional website company should be very familiar with all these layers. After thoroughly understanding your development needs they should be able to lead you in the right direction and explain why they choose a specific scenario.
We recommend at the very least, that websites have at least 4 layers. - A pure presentation layer (.CSS), the web pages themselves, a business layer and a backend storage system (if needed). These 4 layers allow a website to be easily expanded for growth and flexible for future enhancements. We look forward to speaking to you.