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How To Start And Run An Online Business

Article: 14. Building Your Online Business Website Part 4


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What is Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 does not imply technological changes in the World Wide Web but in fact the manner in which it connects people and allows them to play an active role in the development and determination of web content. The Web 2.0 reduces the distinction between the producers and the consumers, in fact it labels internet users as "prosumers" as they play an active role. The internet has always been a medium that has brought people close, irrespective of physical and political boundaries. Web 2.0 goes a step ahead and focuses on creating web site features that facilitate social interaction and connectivity.

In the first O'Reilly Web 2.0 Conference in 2004, it was highlighted that Web 2.0 revolutionized the computer world by focusing on the use of the internet as a platform. Some of the Web 2.0 concepts can be seen in play in social communities that place emphasis on the internet users and their proactive behavior. Blogs, wikis, social networking sites, video sharing sites are some of the prime examples of Web 2.0 at its best.

This revolution is not restricted to the connectivity between individuals but in fact can bring the business community closer and also increase the interaction between the business and internet users and take it to a whole new level. Web 2.0 sites allow the internet users to contribute to the development of the site content and give shape to it. Businesses can benefit from this new avatar of the World Wide Web in many ways. Here is a quick look it at why you should consider building a Web 2.0 web site.

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Relevance of Web 2.0 to Businesses And The Business and Consumer Relationship

  • The Web 2.0 applications bring internet users closer to businesses and then play a significant role. The interaction between the business and internet users allows the business to gain deep insight into how their target audience thinks.
  • Web 2.0 focuses on tools that encourage interaction between the business and target audience. This may be in the form of blogs, comments, contact us forms, query form or articles written by the prospective consumers.
  • Social networking allows the target audience to share their views and thoughts about your business with friends and colleagues and as a consequence increases your traffic.
  • Higher involvement on the part of your target audience translates to an audience that is willing to receive your business message and consider it. Signing up for e-newsletters or mailing lists is a step in this direction.
  • Web 2.0 could also allow businesses to connect with each other and form a close knit market for consumers.
  • For PR and marketing strategies and campaigns the Web 2.0 is especially crucial and can be used in creative and unconventional ways.

Benefits for Business Teams

  • Often in the corporate world employees experience a sense of alienation and loneliness. Their work takes up most of their time and energy, and the Web 2.0 can be used to encourage employee morale. This is a great way for employees to connect with each other and also to their employers. This atmosphere of clear and regular communication helps employees work together as a cohesive group, a team. It may also be a way to resolve personal and professional differences and find common ground to work on.
  • Web 2.0 may also bring to focus business processes and interaction that require work and attention and resolve potential problems before they turn serious.
  • This is also a great way to share professional knowledge and seek new and better solutions to problems. It also ensures that obsolete data is thrown out. Your Web 2.0 site can ensure that your business teams function well and together on tasks and are kept in the loop and know what is happening in the business.

"Let's talk about it" seems to be the message that the Web 2.0 seems to underline. And rightly so, communication is the cornerstone for any successful relationship, personal or business.

Features of a Web 2.0 web site

  • A Web 2.0 web site offers content that can be added to and edited by visitors. It is no longer controlled exclusively by the business management or site owner. To this end software such as AJAX, Flex and OpenLaszlo may be used. Such software offers a user friendly interface and increases the role of the visitors on the site. Thus dynamic content and user participation and experience are the core features of the Web 2.0 experience.
  • Applications such as AJAX, Silverlight and Flex and Adobe Flash enhance the visitors experience and can even allow a section of the content to be edited by them without affecting the rest of the page.
  • Web 2.0 offers meta data that is easy to understand and may often be only a single word. This makes it easier for search engines to categorize and for internet users to find.
  • Your Web 2.0 site would use standards oriented plug-ins, server software, content syndication and other applications to increase possibilities of creation, storage and editing of information.
  • Your site would need a "Search' tool so that visitors can easily find the information they seek.
  • The tags used for the Web 2.0 site are simpler and easier to manage and hence finding the right content is simpler.
  • The site would offer links to the most visited pages and make the experience of the web site more interesting and enticing. So if a visitor is viewing a product description page then it would also be linked to the purchase pages, the shopping cart and to an enquiry form, in case the visitor has any queries. This smoothens out the navigation and helps the visitors effortless find what they seek.
  • Forms for visitors to fill up in case they have a query, complaint or a suggestion.
  • A Web 2.0 site shifts from an exclusively controlled authoring to make space for consumer opinions and thoughts. This could be in the form of blogs, comments and editing of content.
  • Use of signals such as RSS to inform your visitors of changes in the content and to keep them connected to your site.
  • The Web 2.0 is user friendly and easy to use. In fact it often reflects desktop systems and makes the use of the site easy and simple.

The Web 2.0 has brought in the concepts of social shopping and social commerce and use the Web 2.0 sites to generate revenue. Instead of taking your marketing strategies to your consumers Web 2.0 brings them to you, to "hang out', and then you can present your marketing ideas in a subtle manner.

How to Build a Web 2.0 web site

You can opt to out source the creation and development of your Web 2.0 web site and free yourself of the finer details that are involved. This will ensure that you are free to focus on your business and have the advantage of having your site built professionally. Rather than recruit a professional for the task it makes sense to out source this job. You would need the services of a designer, web developer and content writer. It is important that these professionals understand the goals you have in mind for your Web 2.0 site and develop it accordingly.

You may also want to opt to build the site yourself. It is a time consuming process but not as expensive as hiring the professionals. Here is how you can get started:

  • Register your domain.
  • You can opt for a platform such as Wordpress, which has ready-to-use website templates and open source scripts. You can design your web site with such free software or opt to use the software and get a designer to design a basic website template for your web site.
  • You could hire a programmer to add the Web 2.0 features that you wish to have in your web site. Use of AJAX, Silverlight, OpenLaszlo and other such applications will make the site more interactive and user friendly.
  • After your basic web site is designed you would need to look for a web host who will upload your files on a server.
  • Market your web site by using the unique and special Web 2.0 features.

Do ensure your Web 2.0 web site has:

  • A search tool to help visitors find relevant information efficiently.
  • Blogs for your visitors to read and comment upon.
  • A chance to make their comments and ideas read on your site.
  • Appropriate forms for visitors to make queries, suggestions or complaints.
  • Newsletters and mailing lists that visitors can sign up for and stay in touch with the latest developments and news from your business.
  • Opportunities for visitors to write their own articles and start a discussion on issues related to your business. For instance a community for people who use your products and have similar concerns such as a parenting community or a health community.

Web 2.0 is your opportunity to create a web site that your target audience will want to visit regularly and contribute to. It is something that they are excited about and makes them feel involved. Your Web 2.0 web site will help you market your products and services in a unique and effective manner and ensure that you have an edge over your competitors.

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