Monthly Archives: April 2012

Web 2.0

A mind-map of words relevant to the concept of Web 2.0While most people are familiar with the concepts of the Internet and the ‘web’, the relatively recent term ‘Web 2.0′ might stump some. The 2.0 suggests the second generation of the Web, reflecting usage in software development where the first release is named 1.0 with small updates numbered sequentially (1.1, 1.2, 1.2.1, 1.3 etc), however significant upgrades of a product merits a whole integer change.

The Web itself has not undergone any technical changes in terms of the software or hardware used (although the machines used to access the Web have changed dramatically since the creation of the World Wide Web back in 1991, most notably with the increase in terms of mobile access) but instead the ’2.0′ refers to the change in usage.

If we consider the Web as it was when it first became mainsteam, it was very static and the user was a consumer. The vast majority of users would read what was on the Web without altering it; it was a one-way stream of information. The Web was expanding as more users got involved, and created their own personal websites, but the average user was still just consuming the information presented.

After the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, the Web started to change. Shortly afterwards, social networking sites arrived and changed the way the Web is used. From Friendster and MySpace to Facebook and LinkedIn, users were encouraged to supply the information. No longer was the Web a one-way street; the consumers are the creators, or at least contributors. This is most obvious when you observe the popularity and ubiquitousness of Wikipedia. According to (yes, you guessed it) Wikipedia, the site has over 100,000 active contributors which have helped to make it the most used reference site on the Web.

Wikipedia is not alone in relying upon user-generated content to attract and maintain users. YouTube for example has just a handful of videos uploaded by the creators of the site, yet it gets over 800,000,000 users a month, watching 3,000,000,000 hours of videos. These videos are uploaded by the public at a rate of roughly one hour uploaded per minute. Like wikipedia, without the users, there is no content. The static, one directional Web has been replaced by the dynamic social Web: Web 2.0.

Fascinating as this history is, how does it affect your business? Now that the Web user is looking to participate rather than simply consume, it becomes necessary for you to permit and encourage this. If you sell a great product or provide a great service, let your users discuss this. Make it easy for them to Like it via Facebook or tweet about it on Twitter. Let your users do your advertising for you; there is no substitute for word of mouth promotion from genuine users.

There are more than 30,000,000 users on Facebook just in the United Kingdom. Worldwide there are over 830,000,000 users. If you can get just a tiny fraction of these people discussing your company, your product then that will be seen by a slightly larger fraction, which will be seen by a slightly larger fractions. If you have 50 Facebook friends, and they see your post about a new dress that you have in stock, and it is commented upon, or liked or reposted by one of these 50 friends, then any of their friends can see it, and maybe repost it again. In this way, your one post can be seen by thousands of people within hours.

Web 2.0 is focussed on social networking and the dynamic Web. It takes advantage of the almost constant presence that users have on the Web and encourages the user to be the contributor. At MGA we can help you to harness this power in order to increase your visibility on the internet and help your brand to spread.

The Mobile Internet

Mobile phone showing access to the features of the internetBusiness is 24/7 and the way the world is changing, it is more important than ever to be constantly accessible. Since portable computers became commonplace, people have been doing their business even when they aren’t at their desk. With the rise of smart phones and tablet computers, there is an almost constant presence on the web. By 2015, mobile access to the internet will quite probably exceed access by desktop computers (ITU).

Using a traditional website on a mobile browser can be a headache. The user will find themselves zooming in and out, scrolling right and left, down and up, and may find that many of the buttons don’t work. And if it is an especially Flash heavy website, then it will really struggle, and with support for Flash is being axed it is only going to get harder.

So what is the solution? There are four paths:

  1. Do nothing. Accept that users will not be happy to use your site on their mobile device and risk that they may find a competitor’s site to be more accessible.
  2. Make your site mobile friendly. Rather than creating a whole new version of your website, you can remove those features that are not accessible to mobile users and make it easier to navigate. However it is unlikely to maintain full functionality for traditional desktop users.
  3. Create a mobile version of your site. This lets users access your site on the go and maintain functionality and accessibility for mobile users, and leaving your traditional website unaffected. Your customers can therefore use your mobile site on their smartphone or tablet, and your regular website on their laptop. This is the recommended route for most businesses.
  4. Create an ‘app’. Applications specifically for mobile users allows you to provide your services directly, outside of a browser. Especially if you can provide a service offline, this might be the best route to take. And this is another way of generating income directly, with users able to pay for the app. Traditionally this is an addition to both a regular website and a mobile site, but there is nothing to say that it can’t be your only way of communicating online with your customers and clients.
Not all websites are the same

So you’ve decided that it’s time to get a website for your business. The benefits are numerous, and completely worth the cost of getting started. However, what is it that you’re really looking for. Do you just want a page or two to tell potential customers what it is that you can offer them and where to find you, or do you want to go the distance and start selling goods direct to customers via your site?

We are more than willing to discuss this with you, but the ultimate answer needs to come from you. What are the needs of your business? Are you just looking to advertise what you already offer, or do you want to expand? There are several choices to be made and we can help to guide you through all of them. Would a mobile version of your site be suitable? Or even a custom app? Are you satisfied with your company branding? If you are struggling with any of these questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

The first thing to consider when you are embarking on getting a new website is to decide what end result you want. We can do (just about) anything you want and if you’re not quite sure what that is then let us know. We are very happy to help you discover your ambitions and we can give you the results you want.

You will be in control every step of the way but we know it can be lonely at the top. Although it will be your decisions you don’t have to make them alone. We will be up front with you about the services we offer and the prices for our packages. Our friendly advice and consultations are free and we will be available when you need to ask questions or want clarification. You’re not on your own if you go with MGA Web Tech.