Programming Web Content with Web2.0

Software | Web Marketing | Website Development

Summary: Recent advances in telecommunications, net technology and consumer expectations have brought about concomitant advances in the demand for more rich and sophisticated languages, content, and interaction on the web between the providers and users of the web.  These new abilities are loosely referred to as web2.0 technology.  Web2.0 allows a more engaging interaction between the producer and consumer, and allow a new depth of communication and interaction that even just a few years ago was impossible.  Sophisticated techniques and languages such as javascript, AJAX, embedded video, and other technologies make this possible.  This article provides an introduction to those technologies, which are affordable, elegant, and becoming more and more of a requirement in the web competition of today.

A few months ago, I answered a question posed, i think, on one of the LinkedIn discussion groups (as MrPaladin) where someone wanted to know about Web2.0. My answer was roundly accepted as authoritative and descriptive. But in retrospect, it was probably provincial and pedantic. The answer I gave described the feature of Web2.0 applications that allows interaction with the user without reloading the page. I used as examples perhaps web pages with stock tickers, or news tickers which constantly update their content, or folks who put their latest tweets from Twitter on their web page to be updated the minute each gem of wisdom gets published.

That answer was correct, but one dimensional, because it focused only on the appearances and apparent technology. In a practical sense, Web2.0 is a much larger concept.

At Paladin Consultants, LLC we do web sites, and web services. Many of the technologies we use come from more sophisticated and mission critical applications. Over the past decade, developments in computer languages, processing speed, band width and transmission speed has grown, with an associated increment in demand and expectations for more sophisticated content, marketing, interaction, and entertainment in web sites. This article is an exposition of some of those methods and techniques.

Another article, which discusses the technology of XML (eXtentible Markup Language) was published a few weeks ago in our blog.    XML is another indispensable tool for creating and maintaining content in web2.0 pages.

The early web sites were billboards. They advertised their clients’ product for all who passed by. This progressed rapidly to shopping carts, so that the passers by could order and pay for products. But there were obvious limitations. In the first place, folks don’t like to read long web pages. So the amount of information offered on a page needed to be limited, or, even better, refined so that the user got served only what he was interested in.

Second, marketing grew more sophisticated. Instead of just offering products to a mass market, web sites not are able to establish a kind of a dialog, or relationship with the customer. This is accomplished through interaction over the web. You don’t want to force the customer to reload pages with every choice, so new technology now allows the user’s machine to go and request new data, choices, colors, or what have you while the customer is browsing elsewhere on the page. That new information is requested, received, and formatted behind the scenes, and inserted into the appropriate place while the customer reads on without interruption.

This Twitter widget is something I have resisted putting on our blog and web site. Not all the things I mention on Twitter are, strictly speaking, technology and business related. But in the overall context of things, perhaps that’s not all bad. People sometimes value that the folks they are dealing with are real people and have personalities just like them. And this Twitter widget is a good example of how you can be more in touch and interact with your customer. It puts a ‘human face’ on your company brand.

Web2.0 is said to be the embodiment of more exciting, interesting and topical content into today’s web by using new technology such as javascript, video, sound, and content from other sites. Interaction and content from Flickr, Twitter, Google, YouTube. The ability to embed this new technology into web sites and deliver them to users through their browser brings a welcome new dimension to web communication with the customer.

Story of my life from Paladin Consultants LLC on Vimeo.

Here’s a very short video a friend recently sent me. It suits me to a tee philosophically, and it is illustrative of the purpose and intent of this article in a very real way. See if you don’t agree that content of this sort will make a user more receptive. See if you don’t agree that it can go a long towards establishing a connection between the site’s owner and the prospective client/customer/user.

Here’s a demonstration of a web2.0 technique that combines the solution of economy of screen real estate with a clever way of ascertaining and then delivering content tailored to a user’s preferences.  Click on one of the dark subject words below.

Web2.0 is a great technology because it delivers on target to so many points:

By your choice of ‘Interest’ you have shown that this subject is a key hot button for you. You don’t need to be bothered by the other items, and clicking on the key word can be both recorded and rewarded. At the same time, screen real estate is conserved. Sometimes when a user is confronted with a huge page of text with no ‘candy’ he will move on before you get your point across.

You are able to add interesting and rich content to your articles or pages in a way that didn’t exist until very recently. Sometimes you might want to add a video extolling the virtues and benefits of your products, or convey an idea in an entertaining way.

Marketing & SalesHere, as I suggested above, you are able to ferret out the user’s preferences, and deliver a targeted response. You are fmeeting his/her needs in a way that was impossible before. You are able to establish esily a relationship with the user which is non-threatening and helpful. And this technology will help you distinguish yourself from your competitors.

ROITechnology, properly implemented, is an effective and cost saving technique. You are able to use a veritable smorgasbord of other sites’ technology (such as in my Twitter example) including Google, Flickr, Yahoo, and many many others. Many sites encourage use of their content, and even provide maps, or hooks into them because they want to cooperate and establish a standard. This is good because you can use this free content to offer information and service to your clients. A prominent example of this is Google Maps, which are appearing on many retail sites today. And, although the technology is not ‘so simple a caveman can do it’, it is well proven, reliable, and effective.

The purpose of this article is to suggest various ways that one can improve his content and delivery to targeted and happy potential customers. The fast moving technologies embedded in web2.0 web pages is growing more powerful and pervasive every day. If I were to talk about all of the technology, the article would too long and uninteresting. So I have confined my remarks to suggesting business uses of this technology. If you would like to see more examples shown in a non-technical and non-threatening environment, the folks at the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan have put together an excellent primer on the subject. Another, more technical source is the W3Schools Online Web Tutorials.

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