What is Web 2.0?
Web 2.0 is the phenomenon of our times - and several major trends have come together that make it a very important influence on how e-businesses interact with their customers and sell to them.
- 70% of US households had broadband connectivity by end of 2006.
- More than 40% of online purchases happen because customers use search engines.
- Cutting edge companies like Google, Yahoo, Nike and others are launching rich interactive websites that use AJAX, Video and other new interactive technologies, that are attracting customers away from their competitors.
- User generated content, in the form of user reviews, blogs and tags, is beginning to have tremendous impact on product perception and product purchases, and finally
- Professional Open-source solutions, such as Google Enterprise Solutions, Content Management Systems and Dashboards, have begun to provide low-cost and reliable alternatives.
Video and Rich Media
- Instead of using static images for the product presentation, use video to promote "lifestyle selling"
- Link e-commerce functionality directly into the video, such that customers can directly add-to cart or buy, even as they watch the video
- Monetize your content video assets by inserting advertisements and promotions into the video
- Use video to create "how-to-use" User Guides and Educational video for products and services that need hand-holding during installation or troubleshooting
- Product Navigation: At websites like Netflix, hovering the mouse over the product image, automatically brings up the product details in a popup, instead of the user having to click on the image, wait for the webpage refresh and then seeing the product details.
- Cart & Checkout: Companies like Anthropologies, TJMaxx and Urban Outfitters are using AJAX techniques to condense the entire cart and checkout experience into a seamless "single-page".
- Site Search: Firms such as Answers.com and Google use AJAX for the Search box. As the user starts typing his search string, the system starts coming back with various recommendations on the search string that the user might actually be searching for.
Next Generation Site Search
- Google Search Appliance: The Google Search Appliance is an integrated hardware and software product designed to give businesses the productivity-enhancing power of Google Search. This appliance can be easily customized to work effectively as a Site-search tool. Furthermore, at price points as low as $2,000, its is an extremely cost-effective solutions as well.
- Open-source Lucene: Lucene is an open-source project launched by the prestigious Apache foundation, and has become the world's premier open-source search and indexing engine. Similar to the Google search appliance, it can be easily customized to work effectively as a Site-search system.
These main Web 2.0 trends, when leveraged well, offer great opportunities to e-businesses in four main ways:
- Attract more Prospects
- Increase Conversion Rates
- Increase Retention Rates and
- Save More on IT costs
Web-based applications and desktops:
Web 2.0 is the first step in revolutionizing Information Technology and how people use their desktops as well as the World Wide Web. The introduction of AJAX technology has enabled developers to create websites that mimic desktop applications. Google's acquisition of Writely in 2006, currently known as Google Docs and Spreadsheets is a prime example of the use of AJAX to create WEB 2.0 applications. The trend will continue into the future as more bandwidth is available to the providers and becomes more affordable to the end-users, in the end eliminating client side application on desktops as they will be run solely through web browsers.
Even though the core functionality associated with WEB 2.0 uses existing web server architecture it does rely more heavily on back-end software typically requiring more robust database and work flow support becoming more and more similar to an application server within an intranet.
Web 2.0 relies on client side software as well to reduce the load on the server and create a well balanced better experience for the end-user. Using AJAX is one of the most prominent characteristics of WEB 2.0. However this does lead to various troubles that must be overcome as the end-user can be using one of the many web browsers available today. Browser compatibility becomes a bigger issue than in the past.
XML and Syndication
One of the key elements that make up WEB 2.0 which is revolutionary is the syndication of content and even services. RSS (Really Simple Syndication), RDF and Atom are all XML based formats used by publishers to syndicate their content. Syndication is WEB 2.0 while linking to content pages is its predecessor. These web feeds allow third parties to display content published by an author. When this content in the original website is updated it will appear updated within all the third-party websites which display the web feed. In today's websites these feeds are designated by the user-friendly Feeds icon.
Web services that make use of the SOAP protocol is also another technological revolution that is evident in WEB 2.0. Using SOAP technology some service providers can offer a web service to clients to improve the quality of their service. For instance FedEx offers a shipping rate calculator using SOAP to be integrated into client websites. This web services makes it possible for e-commerce website owners to offer the shopper real time accurate shipping rates directly using the FedEx web service.