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What is Web 2.0? - Part 2

by Lynn Eriksen 

You may have heard the mysterious term "Web 2.0" used in certain corners of the internet. People often discuss Web 2.0 as being a "revolutionary" trend or a "don't miss out" opportunity. But very rarely do people supply Web 2.0 with a concrete meaning, or explain how it differs from "Web 1.0". Many people have written off "Web 2.0" as a buzz word that does not have a clear meaning. However, there are many important concepts and technologies that Web 2.0 is often applied to. In Part 1 of this article we covered Web 2.0 concepts and technologies. In the second part of this article we will review several Web 2.0 web sites and share a few ideas on how Web 2.0 concepts can enhance your web site.

What is 'Web 2.0'? (Recap from Part 1)

The term 'Web 2.0' is often applied to web sites that are focused on allowing visitors to collaborate and product results in creative ways rather than to merely inform. Often times there is a large focus on building community as well as providing a customizable experience for the visitor. Additionally, many of these web sites use state-of-the-art techniques in design and functionality.

What are examples of Web 2.0 web sites?

There are many examples of web site using Web 2.0 concepts and technologies that are very popular today. Here are a few:

  • Flickr.com allows for uploading, sharing and discussing photos. Pictures can be tagged with keywords, and visitors can search for pictures using descriptions or tags. In many places Web Feeds are used to notify visitors when new photos have been uploaded. Like MySpace.com, Flickr.com draws revenue as an advertising platform.

  • iStockphoto.com leverages a shopping-cart like service called "LightBoxes" that allows for visitors to keep track of photos they are interested in purchasing. In addition, iStockphoto.com uses AJAX interactivity to provide a very elegant photo searching/viewing experience. The enhanced search experience and LightBoxes help make iStockphoto.com a significant player in online stock photography.

  • Blogging Web Sites commonly allow for easy content creation and provide web feeds allowing for visitors and other web sites to easily keep track of new content. Additionally, most blogs allow for moderated user comments. Blogging has become the method of choice for starting informal conversations on the web.

  • Wikipedia.com is an online encyclopedia that is mostly created by visitor submissions. Visitors can often navigate to a page of interest and make edits without leaving the page. Although not absolutely authoritative due to its informal nature, Wikipedia.com has become a valuable information starting point for many surfing the web.

How can Web 2.0 Ideas Work for Me?

Leveraging Web 2.0 techniques can be profitable when used with care and caution. Just having the latest and greatest Web 2.0 type of functionality on your web site does not lead to an automatic win. Additionally, you do not have to plunge feet first into a large scale Web 2.0 make over of your web site. Here are a few common Web 2.0 ideas that can help move your web site forward. Some are simple, others are more complex.

  • Consider Blogging to Start Conversations
    A blog for your organization or business help you connect with your members or customers informally. Blogs are a great way to share new ideas or get feedback from the audience. Most blogging web sites are free (advertiser supported) and can often be customized to look like your web site.

  • Make use of Web Feeds for Your Visitors
    If you make changes to your web site often a web feed can help your visitors keep track of what is new in a timely manner. Plus, web feeds are a good alternative to mass e-mail. In fact, it's even possible to track how often your web feeds are being used.

  • Begin to Put your Business Process Online
    If your business is service oriented the web can be a great place for you. If there is any part of your business that is phone and/or step-by-step intensive, it may be a good candidate for the web. Not all of your business process needs to be put online at once, but creating plan of attack is considerably helpful.

  • Help Your Clients to Coordinate
    If you have a business model that requires coordination between several individuals or groups consider how you can make that process centralized on your web site. Finding the right solution for your clientele can help them save time, be more consistent, and rely on your organization or business for success.

Taking steps towards helping your members or customers succeed can make all the difference in a world that is becoming increasingly solution-oriented. It is no longer enough to tell your visitors who you are and what you do. If you can share with them what is possible, give them tools to collaborate with you and each other, and/or help them to save time and stay organized your organization or business can move forward to new levels of success using the web.

 

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