This age of the internet is all about decentralization.
Only a few years ago, during the “bursting of the dot-com bubble”, almost an entire generation concluded that the internet is over hyped and turned its attention elsewhere, thus leaving place to a new generation of technology and models to get center stage and turn the tables out in cyberspace. Web 2.0 does not mean there’s a new version of the internet out there, it’s not a technical specification. The term was promoted, according to Wikipedia, by O’Reily Media in 2003 and it’s explained in depth in the “What is Web 2.0” article.
The decentralization is the main concept that made the tables turn on the web and building a presence out in cyberspace these days has to consider the beneficial aspects of what took place. For marketers and brands, it’s still a headache, since the “portal” which was the key of the “first age” or “first generation” of internet communities is no longer the key to getting the word out. This time, the “consumer” is mastering its own universe and products and brands are orbiting around them. Bloggers and online communities go around constraints. It is human nature to avoid barriers and wherever one is encountered online, the stream goes around and ignores the constraint to a degree that may throw the site, brand or portal to internet’s shed and thus dramatically hurting its business. Blogging, social networking, search engines and friendly directories on the other hand are the new community and here is where “word-of-mouth” is happening and getting a recommendation about a product values more than all the publicity around it.
Excellent examples of Web2.0 websites are YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, Digg, Del.icio.us or Technorati to name a few and, of course, Google which probably represents to Web 2.0 what Netscape meant to the internet before the turn of the century. There is a wealth of information out there so when you start your web presence, know that you should consider it.
Not everything that has the 2.0 extension at the end is really about web 2.0 though. It’s a concept and an age of the internet and many are trying to take a profit out of internet rookies by selling web 2.0 related items. Just use your better judgment and look for reviews in those wonderful online communities. Joining these new and dynamic communities is exciting and fulfilling as it opens up, literally, the planet and connects you to whatever is actually making news out there.
There has never been a better and easier time to join and get connected and for a website publisher or webmaster.
I’ve put together this list of ideas to get you started. Please comment and add to this list so that the web can benefit from it.
- Write a paragraph about what your website stands for and submit it to share sites like Digg, Reddit or Now Public. Bookmark your site on Del.icio.us and submit your site to StumbleUpon. Submit your following articles from your press section to those directories when you publish them on your site. If you’re writing for geeks, submit your site to Slashdot too. Here is a top 10 social bookmark links list from About.com.
- Create a Google Group or Yahoo Group covering your site topics.
- Create a blog and use it to be honest about your site or your interests. A blog is personal and the language used is less formal. You can actually write in a blog, responsibly but “off your company’s record”. Try using Blogger, Word Press or MySpace. I am also using Freewebs but I find Blogger to be the easiest to use. Now if you do that, you should join Technorati and claim your blog.
- Submit your site to search engine friendly directories and DMOZ.org. This process should be free but it’s time consuming.
- Most blogging directories offer Real Simple Syndication (RSS feeds) by default. You should use it for your site’s news section too. As soon as you have an RSS, submit it to feed aggregators like FeedBurner or Squidoo. Some of those aggregators offer you the possibility to send out a newsletter with the newest articles, automatically.
- Test your site and make sure it appears correctly in all major browsers. We are living wonderful times for testing site appearance on different browsers and making sure that the site is compliant to W3C standards and looks good across browsers since Safari, the web browser used on Mac, is now available for windows too so you can have all the browsers on one OS to test with, unless you develop on Mac and you have IE5.
- Use excellent portals like YouTube and Google Video to post video and Flickr, Photobucket or Picasa Web Albums to publish photos.
- Search engines love XML sitemaps. You can submit that to Google webmaster tools and keep an eye on your site’s traffic with Google Analytics or the new set of tools from Yahoo, the Site Explorer.
Publishing advertisement and having high page ranking are good for the morale, but most visitors use ad-blockers and optimizing for search engines is a continuous job and there are professionals out there doing just that, keyword: “SEO Optimization”. Those are not the goals of the new websites and, if high page ranking helps, it does not guarantee popularity. For designers, digital-web offers a nice article about web 2.0 from the designer perspective.
I will not go into depths about what each of the sites mentioned above stands for. Research is probably the most enlightening experience one can have and I leave it all to you. Comment and add items to my lists and keep in mind that web 2.0 is all about social media, the consumer takes center stage, and that changes the world.