What is Web 2.0 and should I employ any of these innovations on my site?
Now here’s a topic that’s bound to be controversial, because there is no one definition of this buzzphrase “Web 2.0”. In general, though, I view Web 2.0 as the generation of Web sites that are highly interactive, encouraging viewer participation and built around another buzzphrase, user generated content. Sites like MySpace and YouTube, in this definition, are definitely Web 2.0, as are just about all blogs.
Since there is no official definition and since as with anything in the technology space, it’s hard to definitively quantify any innovation anyway (does Netflix having movie info pop-ups make it a Web 2.0 site? Does it allowing you to publish your own review on their site make it Web 2.0?), I suggest that the better question you should ask is: are there any recent innovations on the Web that can enhance either your findability or the experience that your readers/customers have when they visit your site?
An example of one that I think is cool is Meebo, which focuses on offering a Web-based instant message client, but also lets you add a “click to chat with a customer service representative” feature to your site for free, all without sharing your IM client ID. When they use your link on the site, they can chat with you, but they can’t spam you or pester you forever more. Nice.
There are also a couple of companies that let you add the capability of receiving customer feedback on any page, focused on non-blog pages especially. Is that generally useful? Well, probably not on the “contact” page of your site, but your product info sheets? Could be a great addition and a smart way to collect customer feedback with just a line or two of additional code.
My concern with adding gizmos to a site, however, is that they often take the place of quality content, and I’ve been to far too many sites that are visually impressive, have the latest cool gadgets, widgets and visuals, but are darn hard to navigate, have broken search engines and are far less functional and useful than they could be. That’s being lured into the dark side of the Web, in my opinion. The first and most important question should always be “how can I help my readers?” not “what’s cool?”
What do you think? I have a paucity of widgets on this page: are there some I should be including here, or do you prefer the simplicity of a page of content with just a few ads helping pay for hosting?