What is Web 2.0 – A Definition

Web 2.0 is as yet something of a nebulous term, with as many different definitions out there as people defining it. This naturally can lead to some confusion. O’Reilly Media, an American company who have been one of the leaders in web development book publishing since the internet was in its infancy, came up with the term in a 2003 meeting. Tim O’Reilly and Dale Dougherty, the founders of the company coined the term.

You can find a technical definition of Web 2.0 on Tim O’Reilly’s blog, but most will be left more confused than before upon reading it. O’Reilly has taken this five page definition and put it into (somewhat) simpler language:

“Web 2.0 is the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantage of that platform; delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an “architecture of participation,” and going beyond the page metaphor of Web 1.0 to deliver rich user experiences.”

The advancements that have been made in computing over the last 25 years are astounding. From DOS to today’s portable devices, Web 2.0 is just another step along the same path; one which promises to make the web a more interactive place and more fun to visit. The transition from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 can be likened to this – with the web the way it is now, we are like spectators at a football game. In Web 2.0, we will be active participants; as if we were on one of the teams playing the game.

What are the differences between the two? For one, Web 2.0 will look different, with bright colors against white backgrounds, rounded fonts and an all over easy to read format are predicted to become the norm. Arial Rounded and Tahoma will replace Times New Roman and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) will be more heavily used to keep websites more streamlined.

The functionality of Web 2.0 will also be different. MySpace, Twitter and the like are a glimpse at the future, with interaction between user and site being possible. The Web will continue bringing people together to interact and communicate.

Social bookmarking as well as networking will be a big part of Web 2.0. Yahoo Answers is a good example, with people having to ask questions about anything, with users earning points for their answers.

Blogging is something which is often thought of in connection with Web 2.0. Just like a diary, blogging lets people write about anything they like; with the difference being that anyone can now read it. A blog can of course be kept private, but most bloggers prefer to share their thoughts.

The exchange of information between web users overall is a big part of what Web 2.0 is about. Article writing has become a popular activity, with people using them to promote websites or provide information to the public as a whole.

Flickr and YouTube have ushered in an age of picture and video sharing, with interaction possible between poster and viewer.

All this of course is only a hint of things to come. As we see an increasing number of websites moving towards the Web 2.0 standard, there will be uses for the internet which we haven’t even thought of yet. And who knows what Web 3.0 will bring….

The Important Elements of Web Design

Investing in a domain name and website can be challenging because of the competition. Many businesses are on the internet, each competing for the top results on search engines. This is why they update their sites more often and promote it to different people. The design, on the other hand, is another factor you should consider. Many people are not tech savvy so a neat design can make your visitors stay on your website for a few minutes. A great presentation is what makes them buy your products so be sure to display them properly.

Visit versus Bounce

A “visit” is when visitors stay on your website for more than thirty seconds, while a “bounce”is when visitors leave the website immediately after clicking. Search engines rank websites depending on visits, not the number of clicks. Grab the interest of your visitors so they will stay longer. People browse through websites for five seconds to see if it has what they are looking for. The design plays an important role because it allows visitors to navigate through your site. Visitors might leave if they cannot understand a complicated design.

Design

Think of original ideas that can leave good impressions to your visitors. This makes them want to visit your site more often. People like to see and experience new things because plain, typical websites bore them. Offer something distinctive through interactive designs, such as drop-down buttons, catchy images, and moving text. A unique design stands out so find a good web development company that can give ideas to improve your website. They also allow you to give ideas so the website fits your preferences.

User-Friendly

Remember that your website is for all types of visitors, from children to adults. Make sure that everything is user-friendly so everyone can navigate through its content easily. They should not encounter problems when looking for specific information. Do not go overboard when trying to create a design because having too many elements is confusing. Provide a tour on your website if you think it will be complicated for your visitors. Never assume that all your visitors are knowledgeable of new elements.

Visuals

Visitors do not have the patience to browse through a block of text. It bores them so they leave the website and look for one with good visuals. They would prefer watching a video than reading your item descriptions. Include images, audio, and videos to provide them with entertainment. A photo section of all your company events, products, and promos is a good example.

Help Support

Many people visit websites because they want something. Make sure that the website shows what you can provide. The homepage should give them an idea of what your website offers. Ask your web developers if they can add additional functions, such as online chats and mini games.

A website is important in all businesses because it allows them to reach a bigger market. Think of the design because it draws people’s attention.

5 Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Developing a Website

There are well over a hundred million websites on the internet. The number is increasing by the minute, but most web surfers will see a tiny fraction of these sites because of some common mistakes. The following is a list of 5 common pitfalls to avoid when developing a new website.

1. Choosing a domain name / buying related domain names

It’s easy to get carried away with very (too) creative or long domain names, especially since most simple domains are already in use. Be sure that you keep the domain as short and relevant as possible, and make sure it makes sense when you look at it. And, please don’t buy a domain name ending in .tv, .biz or .mobi because your preferred .com is unavailable. It is poor form and it will look like an attempt to ride the coattails of a successful .com domain. Consumers who stumble upon your site in the search for the .com domain will feel like you are trying to dupe them into visiting your site whether you intended to or not.

By the same token, when you purchase your .com domain, don’t be afraid to pick up your domain ending in .info, .biz, and / or .org (if appropriate to the nature of your business), especially if you think your site will attract copycats. As mentioned above, successful .com sites will often see their domain name popping up ending in .biz, .info, etc, because the owners of those sites really are hoping to ride your coattails by duping your visitors into coming to their site.

2. Spending too little or too much on your website

We can’t tell you in one article how much you should spend on your site, but we can give you some ranges and guidelines. If you pay under $1000, you are dealing with a price leader, which is ok. Just know that this individual or company is in the business of getting customers based solely on lowest price and not much else. You are going to get an extremely basic website or what we call an “online brochure” that doesn’t change much and doesn’t compel visitors to do business with you. And that is the best case scenario- if you pay this little for a site, chances are you aren’t dealing with a seasoned expert who knows the fine ins and outs of inserting metadata for search engine indexing, or who utilizes professional copy writers, designers or project managers. Your site design will likely be a template, and probably will lack the functional and interactive elements that consumers are looking for online these days.

Conversely, there are developers that charge staggering hourly rates, and huge companies who have to support major overhead. These companies may charge upwards of $50,000 or more for a site with all the bells and whistles and ongoing maintenance retainers. If you work with a creative, successful developer or company, they should be able to prioritize your immediate needs with future wants and give you a firm estimate and solid contract.

Talented, professional web developers know that their time (and yours) is valuable- they charge more than the “price-leader” for an effective online marketing tool, and they will work hard to give you exactly what you need. However, be leery of large companies and all the bells and whistles they throw at you- you may end up supplementing their sky high overhead. A fantastic, effective website doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

3. Too many “dynamic” elements

Dynamic elements are FABULOUS ways to get your visitors interested in your website by allowing them to learn new things or interact with you. For example, you may have a weekly column on your site written by a guest expert in your field- your loyal and interested patrons will subscribe to a feed or visit your site often for this information and they will think of your business anytime a similar topic comes to mind.

However, if you also add a blog to share your personal musings, a photo gallery, calendar of events, an invitation to ask questions and…. How can you keep up with all of this? Pretty soon visitors notice that the information is stale and they don’t come back anymore, and don’t think of you or your company. At worst, the information that you no longer update will look stale and become a turn off to visitors.

Using all of these elements appropriately can send the message to a visitor that your business is the expert in your industry, that you are professional, and makes you stand out among the competition. But, it is crucial to have a plan to manage these elements, and choose which of them to use very carefully based on what you can handle. For instance, a reputable company (ahem, MetaMorph!) can manage your updates for you, or train one of your employees to manage these updates for you.

4. Lack of relevant, useful or entertaining content

The previous example is what happens when trying to manage too much content. Another common pitfall is not having enough information that the visitor finds useful, relevant or interesting to read. Make sure that articles are updated often and that they contain the kinds of information your target audience is looking for on your site- answer common questions about your product or service, address trends and developments or your industry in the news.

5. Typos, misspellings, dead links

This is a pet peeve for us! There is an incredible invention called Spell Check and it is your friend. Check and double check everything you publish. Have some other people read it before posting it, and go back and read things you have posted in the past. Test your links often (both those leading to other pages on your site and those going to outside sites) and make sure they are functioning properly.

A note on linking to other sites- make sure that those sites also link back to you unless you think the other site is such an amazing resource that you must share it with your visitors. Having too many links to other sites and not enough links coming to your site can make you rank lower in natural or “organic” search rankings. Also, make sure that your links don’t jettison your visitors to other sites- set your links to open in a new window or you risk another abandoned shopping cart and losing your customer’s attention forever.