What is Web 2.0?

BY ITW Consulting

ITW Consulting Corp

Essentially when you here the word web 2.0 it is referring to a modern kind of web design that is more interactive and that allows the user to interact with the website. This means that they can do things like upload photographs, leave comments, sign in with a profile and more. This is a very basic and fundamental view of web 2.0 however and `true` web 2.0 means that this kind of interactivity is really built into the function of the website.

This then might mean a website such as Facebook – a site where the entire purpose of the site really is the interactivity and the fact that you can edit it yourself – upload pictures, make comments and generally interact with the code yourself.
Web 2.0 in website design then adds a lot more functionality to a website. It takes the web design from being something pretty to look at and read and makes it into something that has a lot to offer and a lot to do – now you can change things yourself and now you can leave your mark on the site. At the same time it means that you can use various services on the site and this might mean something as simple as using a shopping cart. You can achieve a shop without web 2.0 – for instance by simply having a PayPal button on an otherwise static page and this way you can let PayPal handle all of the more complicated website design while your web design remains more just an old fashioned site.

However using this strategy you then have a website that doesn`t allow you to buy multiple things, to combine postage and packaging or to select to deliver to alternative addresses. At the same time by outsourcing you are paying PayPal some of your profit and you are generally not going to look as professional or as `swish` as you could do with web 2.0 web design. Furthermore what you have to remember is that if someone has a profile on their site – as they would need to for a web 2.0 shopping cart – then that gives them membership and incentive to go back, and it gives you access to their e-mail address etc.

The great thing is that by using web 2.0 well, you can have the profile they use to shop used for other aspects of the site. They can have an avatar, they can leave comments, they can participate in a forum and more. Alternatively you might not want to have a shopping page at all, but might still want them to be able to make their own password so they can send messages to other visitors etc.

This is a brilliant form of web design that is also a brilliant form of marketing – it gives them a reason to come back – in order to see if they have any more messages in their inbox and to update their profile picture – and it makes them feel like they are a part of it.
At the same time though this is also good web design for another reason – that being that it allows people to create the content for your site without you needing to. In order to make a website popular as you might know, you need to have your web design constantly updated with new images and new content. This way Google will still show people your site when they are searching for related things as it will think your site is active rather than just a graveyard of a site. It also means that when someone searches for a word, there is more content on your site for Google to find. In essence more content = more visitors and more visitors = more profit. At the same time it will mean that people have a reason to come back themselves to see more things.

Normally this means hiring writers and spending a lot of time uploading countless articles etc. However with web 2.0 that content is uploaded by the users themselves – the site is constantly active and you will have had to do nothing in order to achieve this. It is important though to use a professional website design company however to achieve this aim as it`s quite complex creating web 2.0 that can be trawled by Google`s robots – just because you have a forum does not mean that Google can find it.
There are many other benefits of web 2.0 too. It allows you to provide services you couldn`t otherwise and this is something that makes web 2.0 crucial for some businesses that want to operate online. At the same time it gives you direct contact with your visitors and customers and that means that you can read their posts and comments and use this as feedback to guide the future of your company, and it means that you can offer them technical support without having to have people constantly online. Web 2.0 might even be useful for your staff if your website becomes a place for them to communicate and to upload and edit files together.

All this is achieved through a programming language called PHP. This is a programming language which is relatively unique in that it can change script and that means that when someone clicks something or types something, the actual code of that page can change and this is how you then have an interactive and non-static page that is constantly changing and evolving. The code is handled `server side` meaning that it runs on the computer on which your website design is installed – not on the visitor`s computer and that means it`s quick to run and highly efficient.
But are there any downsides? The answer is not really as long as the web design is good. One thing to bear in mind is that you don`t want to use web 2.0 unless there is a good reason. Don`t force people to sign up just to look around your site if your web design is basically a static advert for your company.

Many people would be suspicious of this and potentially curious and this would mean that you lost customers as they wouldn`t be bothered to go through the hassle of signing up. At the same time web 2.0 needs to be handled in a way that`s not buggy and that won`t crash – but by using a web design company this should be a given.
The other potential downside of the web 2.0 web design is that it can take a lot of work to maintain. If you give people free reign to write and upload whatever they want on your site then you will risk having slander and offensive material on your web page that can drive away other visitors and even land you in legal difficulties. You need to have some kind of moderator in place to ensure this doesn`t happen and that can be costly and time consuming. Further if people upload too much and you have too many users then this can fill up your bandwidth and your server space. Let your website design company advise you then on whether to use web 2.0 and how to implement it.