Entries tagged with “World Wide Web”.

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Social networking — the new ‘killer app’?
By Liam Lahey

Some say social networking came of age in 2008 and as it continues to mature over the course of 2009, it will live up to the hype as the next “killer app”. But beyond social networking, what will Web 2.0 do for businesses in a forthcoming year that is economically unpredictable?

According to Tim O’Reilly (the man who coined the term), “Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as a platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.”

As stated on Wikipedia, Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, described the term Web 2.0 as a piece of jargon. “Nobody really knows what it means,” and “if Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.”

Perhaps we’ll have a stronger definition for Web 2.0 by the time there’s talk of Web 4.0, as hindsight helps things to become vastly clearer.

“My own feeling is that all monikers are jargon,” said Warren Shiau, senior associate, IT research, The Strategic Counsel. “What I perceive is that many people use Web 2.0 to signify people, rather than business entities, controlling the Web. But like Tim Berners-Lee says, Web 2.0 means lots of different things to lots of different people.

“Whatever you define Web 2.0 as I think is, in the end, irrelevant. There’s a cycle to everything: start-ups get started, businesses grow and fail; things everybody says will be huge may end up being huge or turn-out not so huge. Remember how gigantic the ASP market was supposed to get?”

Beyond monikers, social networking has become a viable application with consumers and business users.

“Right now, social networking is valuable, and used, from a marketing and promotion standpoint. It can raise a company’s profile, not to mention a brand or product profile,” commented Michelle Warren, principal analyst, MW Consulting. “I’ve also seen it used for HR purposes — to aid in the recruiting function. It is still largely viewed as being a cost-centre, however, as it is challenging to measure true benefits against it.”

Executives would be well-served to understand its opportunities over the next year, and to see how they can benefit from it, she added.

“[Social networking] continues to ramp as a platform, however under current economic conditions which will restrict traditional and non-traditional forms of funding I expect there will be some market consolidation over the next two years,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst, The Enderle Group. “It isn’t going away though and will continue to evolve into an ever strengthening platform but, I expect, with fewer major vendors in a few months.”

It has also been said Web 2.0 is about hyper-connectivity, about the conversations that are happening on the Web that are shifting power away from companies and to the individual and the online communities to which they belong.

That is true of every wave of technology going back to the Bronze Age; the waves are just coming at an increasing rate.

“This is evolution at Internet speeds and those businesses that can be agile enough to evolve quickly enough will survive, many will actually anticipate these changes and flourish. You could argue that Google and Apple are poster children for this, while those that can’t (Sun comes to mind) will languish and perhaps die,” Enderle remarked. “This rate of change does put significant emphasis on survival of the fittest.”

Warren said that is a definitely liability of Web 2.0 and an opportunity for the resellers.

“Sourcing, finding, and using data is difficult. Also, Web 2.0 expedites communications and therefore, the speed of business,” she said. “Many argue that business is moving ‘fast enough’ these days — Web 2.0 has the potential to speed it up. This has the ability to change the face of business in the next five years.”

Meanwhile, Dan Latendre, CEO of Igloo Software — a corporate social networking solutions provider — said the technology still has a ways to go in terms of being adopted by organizations.

Igloo defines Web 2.0 as a set of new and innovative tools that take us beyond simple browsing, searching and publishing of static Websites.

“Along with this whole Web 2.0 and social networking play is something that’s been forgotten and that’s the software-as-a-service model,” he said. “These are the choices organizations are going to have to make — ‘am I going on-premise or SaaS?’”

To that end, the coming year would be another important step for the corporate social networking adoption, he added.

“I don’t think [social networking] came of age in 2008, I think we’re still in an education phase,” he said. “A lot of CIOs are still trying to figure out how to best implement a corporate social network in their organization.

“I strongly recommend to organizations to do it by business units . . . and not the top down enterprise approach. In the marketplace, you extend corporate social network outside your firewall to deepen those connections with your key partners and suppliers.”

“Web 2.0 will generally allow successful businesses to become better connected with their customers, and it will probably have a great deal to do with who survives and prospers over the next 24 months,” added Enderle. “Customer care and customer satisfaction form the foundation for customer retention and Web 2.0 services go to the core of customer care and customer satisfaction.”

John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, recently said the next Internet experience would be driven by collaboration and Web 2.0 technologies and would be built around video and virtualization as the industry moves to the usage of collaboration tools.

“We believe the network will enable all forms of communication and IT,” he said.

Everything Cisco is doing is building off of its belief that collaboration and Web 2.0 would become a more dominant and important part of business communications and doing business, Chambers added.

With files from Chris Talbot.

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divimg alt=”" src=”http://hits.guardian.co.uk/b/ss/guardiangu-feeds/1/H.15.1/15835?ns=guardianpageName=Technology%3A+A+lot+of+Brits+don%27t+understand+search+enginesch=Technologyc3=guardian.co.ukc4=Search+engines%2CInternet%2CTechnologyc5=Technology+Gadgets%2CCorporate+ITc6=Jack+Schofieldc7=2008_12_12c8=1133447c9=articlec10=GUc11=Technologyc12=blogc13=c14=Technology+blogh2=GU%2FTechnology%2Fblog%2FTechnology+blog” width=”1″ height=”1″ //divpAlmost all of us use search engines, but most Britons “either have no idea or an inaccurate view of how online search results are determined,” according to the Online Search Matters Survey produced for a href=”http://www.fasthosts.co.uk”FastHosts/a, the Web hosting company. The main findings are: /pblockquotepNearly 1 in 4 Britons (24%) believe that the order of the search listings they use cannot be influenced by the publishers of websites listed, whilst a similar proportion (22%) suspect that results are ordered entirely according to how much has been paid by the websites listed. 1 in 5 consumers (19%) have no idea at all how results are compiled, and 5% believe that search listings are arranged completely at random like a lottery./p/blockquotepbr /br /To be clear: the major search engines do not charge for listings, but their results are influenced by Web site publishers, partly through the use of SEO (search engine optimisation) techniques. /ppMen (33%) understand how search engines work a little better than women (26%)./ppBritons also trust organic results more than the “sponsored listings” that often appear above or alongside them. Fasthosts says: /pblockquotep1 in 3 (33%) believe these listings to be ‘less worthy’ and ‘less useful’ than main search results. Two thirds of web users (66%) report that they always pay attention first to main results, and some 40% of women and 34% of men will consciously ignore sponsored links whenever they appear./p/blockquotepThe survey is based on 1,636 UK adults interviewed by a href=”http://www.tickbox.net/”Tickbox.net/a in November 2008 via electronic feedback forms. /ppOf course, if you started compiling a list of things that lots of Brits don’t understand, you’d be busy for some time. It’s also not clear that understanding how search engines work has much practical value if you just want to find sites, rather than promote them. However, if I ran a search engine, I’d be looking for ways to make it clearer that organic results, unlike sponsored links, are not paid for. br //pdiv style=”float: left; margin-right: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px;”ullia href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/searchengines”Search engines/a/lilia href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/internet”Internet/a/li/ul/diva href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk”guardian.co.uk/a copy; Guardian News Media Limited 2008 | Use of this content is subject to our a href=”http://users.guardian.co.uk/help/article/0,,933909,00.html”Terms Conditions/a | a href=”http://www.guardian.co.uk/webfeeds/1,,1309488,00.html”More Feeds/a
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The average small business does not know how to find a web designer or web developer. However, with some initial planning and careful preparation, you will be able to find a web development professional to meet your business needs.

1. Evaluate the Needs of Your Online Business Presence

Setting clear, concise goals will help you understand what your business wants to achieve from the website. Create a “Request for Proposal,” or RFP, to write these goals down and determine which website features are essential and which ones would be nice additions. A website RFP is also useful when you are recruiting and communicating with web development professionals. Download the following document to help you develop your proposal: Create an RFP for Your Website.

2. Narrow Down a Group of Web Designers/Web Developers

After creating your website RFP, you will need to shortlist a group of web development professionals. Below is a list of websites that will help you assemble your potential shortlist:

Additionally, a Google search for “Vancouver freelance web design” or “Vancouver web designers” will give you many different local web designers to consider.

When looking at the portfolios of potential web designers, think about the following questions:

  • Do I like the look and feel of their previous work?
  • Do they have quality references?
  • Have they created websites similar to what I need for my website?
  • Do they have all the technical skills required to complete the job? It’s important that whoever you choose to work with thoroughly understands the technical requirements necessary for your website.

3. Email Your Website RFP

Email your website RFP to the entire list of potential web designers you have shortlisted. Here is an easy way to do so:

  1. Compose a new email address it to yourself.
  2. Add all your potential web designers to the BCC field of your e-mail
  3. Create a clear subject line, such as “XYZ Business is looking to have a website created (RFP attached)”
  4. Write a brief introductory sentence describing your business and yourself
  5. Attach your website RFP to the e-mail, send and then wait for feedback

4. Review, Negotiate and Get Comfy.

Next you’ll be reviewing the feedback from you website RFP. There will likely be a mix of good, not-so-good and standout replies. If possible, call and make a one-on-one appointment with the candidates that stood out. Meeting the potential web designer is very important, especially since you will want to feel comfortable working together. Consider the following points when meeting a web designer:

  • There is no need to pay for an initial meet and greet
  • If you do not already have a domain name or web hosting, let the designer know you will still need to do so. It is ideal to have both registered in your business name
  • Ask for references to websites that the designer created with similar requirements to your own needs
  • It is okay to ask for a list of past clients to contact. If you do contact a reference, the only question that really matters is whether the client would work with the designer again. The only answer that matters is “Yes.”
  • It is not common that a quality web designer will develop a website mock-up for you as a free pitch to get the contract. This approach will often scare away quality talent
  • A quality web designer will listen to your plan, assess your needs, and provide constructive feedback regarding any areas of your website plan that may need improvement

5. Get Everything in Writing

After picking a web designer, commit everything about the project to writing, including:

  • Financial terms and payment schedules
  • Any legal requirements that need signing off
  • Itemized list of what and when deliverables will be provided to you by the web designer
  • Itemized list of what and when deliverables will be provided by you to the web designer
  • A project timeline outlining key milestone and final release dates
  • Having everything in writing provides both parties with a clear blueprint of what is expected.

    Following this process will help to make the process of finding a web designer an easier task. The time spent planning your website needs will make for an organized, well-communicated working relationship between yourself and the designer you choose to create your website.

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eBC Guide to Improving Usability

Writing good copy for your web pages is extremely important not only for users but also for search engines. Fortunately for us there is no conflict in writing for users or search engines and if your copy provides the information needed by users then it will also provide the information needed by the search engines.

The practical aspects of good copy are well known thanks to many usability studies, and if you pay attention to the following for all your pages you will be doing better than 99% of websites.

1. Length
There is no fixed requirement for the amount of text on a page. Some pages may require only 150 words others may require 800 or more. Be succinct and use as few words as possible, at least half of what you would use for conventional writing.

2. Keywords
Include your keywords of course but do not worry about the number of times they appear on the page (see Keyword Density). Just write naturally and your keywords will occur in the right places and at the right frequency.

3. Grammar
Good grammar is important. Write in the active voice not the passive. If you are not sure of the difference between the active and passive voice there is a good explanation here at the Purdue University Online Writing Lab.

4. Spelling
Users who are poor spellers may not notice bad spelling but users who are good spellers will. Search engines are good spellers.

5. Headings
All usability studies show that users scan web pages ( http://www.useit.com/alertbox/reading_pattern.html ), they do not read them word for word. You should make liberal use of headings and sub-headings (h1, h2, and h3) so that the users’ attention can be drawn towards those elements of the text that is of interest to them. Also make sure that they are meaningful and not ‘clever’ like some newspaper headlines.

6. Highlighting
Use text highlighting such as bold, italic or color to assist the user in scanning the page.

7. Bulleted lists
An excellent method for capturing the users’ attention and getting across information in a concise manner.

8. Paragraphs
One idea, one paragraph. Usability studies show that if users are not ‘captured’ by the first few words of a paragraph they will move to the next (or hit the back button of course). One idea per paragraph ensures that users will not miss an idea by skipping paragraphs as they scan the page.

9. Sentences
Keep your sentences short.

10. Links
Embed outbound text links in your copy to improve your credibility.

11. Market Speak
All usability studies show that users hate the promotional writing style with boastful claims often used by the marketing profession. Web users want to read the straight facts and credibility goes out the window when they see marketing hype.

12. Vocabulary
Familiar words and not jargon.

13. Acronyms
If you have to use an acronym or abbreviation make sure it is understood by every user and define it on the page.

If you are not an English major (like most of us!) then the Guide to Grammar and Style ( http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~jlynch/Writing/contents.html ) or the Economist Style Guide ( http://www.economist.com/research/styleGuide/ ) can be extremely useful.

Additionally, Usability guru Jakob Nielsen has some useful advice on Writing for the Web ( http://www.useit.com/papers/webwriting/ ) and using ‘old’ words ( http://www.useit.com/alertbox/search-keywords.html ).

Reprinted ( http://www.seo-blog.com/text.php ) with permission by SEO Expert Michael Duz ( http://www.seo-blog.com ). Michael Duz is a researcher in the field of e-marketing and search engine optimization whose organization has many well known corporate clients.

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