What is Web 2.0?

It’s been a buzzword for a while, but what is Web 2.0?

“Web 2.0” originated at a brainstorming session with the O’Reilly Network and MediaLive International.  Web 2.0 is basically a series of concepts and ideas that redefine the web as a platform where the individual users control their own data.  It is the use of new technology to enhance the user’s online experience.

In other words, rather than the old model where the publishers of the data were in control, this is a new paradigm where the information seekers control how the internet grows and improves through their consumption of and interaction with information.

You can see examples of this in some very obvious places, like Google.  Google relies heavily on popularity to be successful.  In order to be popular Google needs to provide useful information quickly and easily to as many different people as possible.  Google does this quite well.

Google is a platform where vast quantities of useful information are exchanged.  Since Google is such an important platform on the web, they are able to produce revenues through ad-words and PPC placement.

Common Web 2.0 Applications

Web 2.0 applications are comprised of a wide variety of software and server solutions.  They do have some common features including:

  • Allows users to provide reliable content, e.g. http://www.wikipedia.com/
  • Gives the users the ability to manipulate and enhance that content
  • Focus on participation rather than publishing

Recognized Web 2.0 applications can include the following:

  • Blogs and RSS Feeds
  • Wikis
  • Web Site Mashups
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • Social Media Marketing (AKA Social Networking)

Let’s take a look at these individually…

Blogs and RSS Feeds

A blog is simply an online journal. The content can vary from “My Summer Vacation” to RightWingJournalistBlog.com or anything you want. Common characteristics include:

  • Latest entry first
  • Archives
  • Comments Capability
  • Timely
  • Generates a Feed (more on this later)
  • Web design expertise generally not needed for creating entries and comments

There’s really nothing mysterious except the name. It’s just a collection of HTML pages, usually mostly text. Anybody can do it. Even with pictures and graphics.

RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Many news-related sites, blogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS Feed to whoever may want to subscribe to it.

Some examples of popular RSS feed subscriptions that you might have seen are:

Both of Blogs and RSS Feeds are easy ways to enhance the content richness of your site.  They are also proactive ways to stay connected with your visitors and engage them in interactivity with your site by offering them the content they want on their terms.

Wikis

Wiki is an adaptation of a Hawaii word meaning “fast”.  On the internet a wiki is the next wave of Content Management technology.  It is a software application that allows users (usually the general public) the ability to create, link and edit pages easily.

Wikis can be used by many types of organizations for lots of different applications.  For example, Wikipedia.com is a public information wiki where users can add and edit information on just about any topic.

It is also in the top ten listings of just about any search on Google where some sort of source material or definition is desired.

Some businesses have used wikis as an inexpensive Intranet solution for their employees.  Others may use wikis as a place for clients to post information about a product or software package.  They can be accessed by the general public or they can be password protected.

Wikis have vastly improved the speed to which information is exchanged and updated on the web.

Mashups

The term mashup originated in the music world referring to the mashing of two or more songs together to make one new song.

On the web a mashup refers to a web application that combines content and functionality from a variety of different sites.  Mashups are mainly built using RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) and AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

You can recognize a mashup site by the use of many recognizable sources of content and functionality.  These sources are generally referred to as APIs.  An API is an interface that allows for external requests to be made for whatever content the site is offering.

For example, you may use APIs from sites such as these:

  • Google Maps
  • YouTube
  • Weather.com
  • eBay
  • Yahoo
  • Amazon

Like any other Web 2.0 apps, mashups are just another way to enhance the users experience by offering enhanced functionality and content from multiple sources.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization

We talk, write, eat, sleep and dream about SEO.  Unlike the past where all you had to do to get listed on a search engine or directory was register your site, the name of the game now is SEO.

Based on the Web 2.0 parameters, SEO is more about the user’s experience.  In order for a site to be optimized for search engine visibility it must contain well organized code and keyword rich content.

An optimized site is one that is not only optimized for search engine visibility but also optimized for an enhanced user experience.

Optimization generally consists of the following:

  • Removal of bad code or any other roadblocks that will block a search engine from finding content
  • Adding new keyword rich content as well as enhancing existing content
  • Adding ALT attributes, proper file naming conventions and keyword rich page titles
  • Adding Blogs and RSS which contain more keyword rich content
  • And any other efforts to improve the amount and quality of keyword rich content

Again, the point I am trying to make here is that Web 2.0 is all about improving the user’s experience.

Social Media Marketing

If you have a computer and are hooked up to the Internet, chances are probably pretty good that you have some sort of social networking account.

Social Networking is a term referring to sites where a group of people (sometimes a very large group), usually through an account or profile, interact with one another based on their commons interests.

You may have heard of a few of these…

In business these sites are great ways to make quick connections to contacts in an effort to promote a message, make further connections, etc.  LinkedIn.com is probably the best example of a business-centric Social Networking site.

So, what does Web 2.0 mean to you?

  • It means that businesses can interact better with their clients and employees.
  • It means that information is more readily available and of better quality on the web.
  • It means that the old model of the publisher controlling the flow of information is dying and the new model of participation is taking over.
  • It means that with look and feel less is more – no longer can you be effective with graphically heavy sites, you need to design with content and messaging in mind.

We are excited about the things to come and what it means for our clients and their online success.

Jon-Mikel Bailey - Before co-founding Wood Street in 2002, Jon worked in sales, marketing and business development for technology and marketing firms. A popular speaker, he gives seminars on marketing, internet marketing, branding and web design to chambers of commerce, trade associations and colleges. He has a BFA in Photography from Frostburg State University and still shoots photos for Wood Street clients.