How to have a Web 2.0 web site? Some practical examples

In this blog post I’ll speak about Web 2.0 and how to create a Web 2.0 web site. I’ll show you some things on technology, some things on structure of a web site and, finally, some things on emotions.

What’s for you to read in this blog post?
1. What would be a small, personal, definition of Web 2.0?
2. Some basic things on the Web 2.0 technology. Uuu, we’re going into geeky stuff
3. What are some Web 2.0 functions and how to use them?
4. Ok, ok, I wish to implement some Web 2.0. What’s the first step to be made?

1. What would be a small, personal, definition of Web 2.0?
Considering technology, a lot of Web 2.0 is done in AJAX. Very simple, the definition of Web 2.0 would have thus just one word: „AJAX”. But AJAX isn’t the defining term for Web 2.0, it’s just a widespread technology for such sites. You can have a Web 2.0 web site with no AJAX. So, it’s not a full definition.
So, what’s the definition? „User generated content.” Hmm. I consider the definition itself rather boring, and I redefine it. „User involvement”. If you manage to involve your visitors and convert them into users that are active on your web site, you’re in the Web 2.0 world.

2. Some basic things on the Web 2.0 technology. Uuu, we’re going into geeky stuff
I like to think that JavaScript in general, and AJAX in particular, are specific to Web 2.0; Actually, they’re not; But you may wish to note that in the future, web will evolve, and AJAX is a likely direction; What does Web 2.0 imply right now in terms of technology? There’s two aspects I noticed:
1. On one hand lack of new technology; „OK, you lost me there” (you might say), „how come a site has AJAX and is not filled with technology?” Well, think of it like this; What will an advanced-technology alternative to AJAX be? Flash you say? I think Flash is a bit more:
a. power consuming;
b. technology advanced;
than AJAX; So, for old computers (or mobile devices?) with less computational power, AJAX is better; Lack of new technology (Flash) is great for the brand new (what a conflict!) Web 2.0;
2. On the other hand, is one thing I like to call „lack of reload”; GMail loads the interface once, and from time to time it refreshes the list of emails; But when going from one message to another, GMail doesn’t load the whole interface plus the message; Just like you would normally expect a desktop application, GMail only loads the messages itself; Or let’s take Google Maps: You can scroll, zoom-in, navigate a map without ever reloading the page; That’s great on AJAX: you don’t need to refresh the page, you just bring in the useful stuff.

So, if I were to build a new site, taking advantage of new technologies, I’d skip trouble-with-loading-and-after-loading Flash, and go to easy-to-load-easy-to-process AJAX.

3. What are some Web 2.0 functions and how to use them?
1. RSS is not user generated content; but my definition of Web 2.0 is larger – if it involves the user (and RSS does this), then it’s Web 2.0; Ok, I consider RSS to be Web 2.0; This is for reading;
2. Comments – this is rather boring and old, but I’d love to see more online shops have the guts to allow any comment on their web site; This is for getting involved;
3. Interactive Maps – instead of just putting a map on the contact page, what about providing an embedded map with all the expected functions such as zoom? Isn’t it great? This is for interaction in navigation;
4. „Send to”; This is easy; I visit a web site and I want to send to a friend some emotions after visiting the web site; I can send my friend the link to the page; I cand send it via email (and you, the creator of the web site, should make it very simple for me to this); This is for spreading the message.

Those are just some examples. Here are some others, following the above pattern:
1. Reading; RSS can also be a boring newsletter or a more fresh blog; There are alternatives;
2. Getting involved; Rather than just posting a comment, how about posting full-size articles? Wikipedia lets me do it, why don’t you?
3. Interaction in navigation; Interactive maps? How about some YouTube clips on your web site? If you have an online shop, you can make small videos with your products; It takes some guts, doesn’t it?
4. How about spreading the message? I can post it on other Web 2.0 web sites (social networks, social bookmarking web sites, social news); There are multiple ways to send the information from here; You should help me to this; I can send it via Instant Messaging; You can post the link to the page on Twitter (a combination between social network, microblogging, and instant messaging); You can have a huge list of options.

4. Ok, ok, I wish to implement some Web 2.0. What’s the first step to be made?
I think that the first thing to change if you wish for a Web 2.0 is your attitude. Technical skills come easy after this. So, what should you change?
1. Change your attitude towards the visitor; Your visitor is something to be used, it’s a resource; Don’t treat it like the end of chain; it can integrate into your life;
2. Change the attitude towards your web site; You should see it as something to load as few times as possible, using new technology, yet easy to computate; Finally, your web site should be interactive, and not static (did I hear you say „boring”?);
3. Change the attitude towards you (and your company); You should have the guts to allow commenting on the web site; You should allow yourself to be present on YouTube clips.

If some of above seem to radical, lower the standards. But at least do try to find out more on Web 2.0!

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