Web 2.0 is really one of the most misunderstood terms floating around the Internet at the moment.
We have had a wide variety of questions and comments related to Web 2.0. Things like
* Do I have to go somewhere to download this new version of the internet?
* Does my website have the 2.0 already installed?
* Is Web 2.0 a product offered by Google?
* Can you design my website in Web 2.0 colors?
The answer to all of the above questions is NO. Web 2.0 certainly is not a brand new version of the Internet, something you can install, a part of the google offers or a certain selection of colors and styles in web design. Fundamentally, it’s really utilizing existing technologies to benefit people. It’s a movement away from static content and towards interaction with people.
To simplify Web 2.0 is all about interaction. Ultimate Interactivity.
As business entities embrace the web as a platform and move towards using its many strengths, they can then build their services and applications using the unique features of the internet as opposed to just building applications to suite other platforms.
Giving people the opportunity to upload, download, share and connect in unique ways.
Examples of Web 2.0
Tim O’Reilly, the founder of O’Rielly Media, sums it up by saying that “Web 2.0 has a layered approach to the levels of interaction with users.
Level 3 applications are the most “web 2.0” oriented and they only exist on the internet. They drive their effectives through human interaction and from the networking effects that web 2.0 makes possible and they grow in effectiveness as more and more people use them. Some examples of level 3 applications are: amazon.com, ebay.com, craigslist.com del.icio.us, dodgeball and Adsense.
Level 2 applications can operate offline, but can greatly benefit from going online. O’Reilly cited Flickr, which greatly benefits from its shared photo database and from its community generated tag database.
Level 1 application operate offline, but gain features online. A few good examples of this are Google Docs & Spreadsheets as well as iTunes because of its store approach.
Level 0 applications work as well offline as online. O’Reilly gives the examples of MapQuest, Yahoo Local and Google maps.
To add even more confusion to the mix, it’s important to notice that a variety of website design ‘effects’ have also been referred to as being Web 2.0. For example, rounded corners and drop shadows are two often used elements used and described as being Web 2.0. The problem with that is that rounded corners and drop shadows certainly do not encourage interactivity. When was the last time you had a drop shadow ask you for your opinion? If you are having conversations with rounded corners then you should probably be reading a totally different article entirely.
Perhaps, this misconception of Web 2.0 as being a style is related to AJAX technology (AJAX allows a web page to request an update for parts of its content, and then to alter those parts in your web browser without needed to refresh the whole page each time) and also DHTML (often found in drop down menus.) While these fantastic technologies will allow a designer to create user friendly websites that work extremely well with a Web 2.0 application, they are certainly not required.
Web 2.0 sites often do have a certain user friendly look and feel, so it’s very easy to see how someone could understand web 2.0 to be a style.
What Can You Plug In?
We briefly touched upon the term AJAX as one way to provide a better ‘user experience.’ Other technologies such as Flash, the new Flex from Adobe and Java have all evolved to improve user interaction in browser based applications.
Although it may not always be apparent, these technologies are surrounding you every time you open up your web browser. Some other technologies are:
* XML and RSS feeds: These provide your customers with a syndicated version of your ‘pushed‘ content. This convenient technology allows the consumer to ‘pull’ data from anyone you decide you want to receive regular information from and for others to ‘push’ the technology they want you to be aware of to you.
* Mashups: A mashup is a hybrid tool that flows out of RSS. Essentially a mashup is a web application that combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool. There are numerous tools available that allow your web site to pull in 3rd party RSS feeds, filter them based on your unique specifications and criteria and then display the information within your website.
o Another great example is the use of cartographic data from Google Maps to add location information to real-estate data, thereby creating a new and distinct web service.
* Weblog (Blog): These are publishing tools, as well as WIKI and forum software designed to support user generated content that includes user commenting, encouraging back and forth interaction.
* Social Indexing: Also known as tagging or social classification, this is now the default method to annotate and categorize content. It is typical to see hyperlinked ‘words’ in blog articles. Tagging information is intended to make volumes of information easier to discover, search and navigate over time. This results in ultimate usability and allows people to find related content quickly and easily.
It is easy to see the interactive pattern here and the connection of people to people defines what Web 2.0 really is and why it is important to you.
For an exploration into the exciting world Web 2.0 visit http://www.go2web20.net . There is enough here to keep you entertained for months!
We will be publishing articles on Web 2.0, SEO, SEM and a variety of other topics over the next few months. For more articles visit our website at: http://www.timestencreative.com