This Isn’t Your Mother’s World Wide Web Anymore

by | Jun 1, 2009 | Design Process

Websites are no longer static pages where you simply dump content on a server and wait for your audience to find it. It hasn’t been that way for years now. These days, the web is more of a non-stop content stream where ideas, thoughts, ways of working and intelligent thought processes are dreamed up and worked through. The web is a thriving cornucopia of ideas, data and conversation. There is no other vehicle or platform that can deliver the power of knowledge like it.

Most sites can be broken down into two categories: those which safely deliver content within the outlined web standards and the sites which are constantly trying to identify those boundaries and then break them by doing extraordinary things. In case you missed it recently, there was a big buzz around Ashton Kutcher and CNN. Kutcher challenged CNN in a “Twitter-off” where he believed he could beat the news giant in a race to get one million followers on the fast-growing social media site Twitter. The unique thing about this event is that it embraced the new technology and demonstrated a new way to communicate to a massive audience. Whether you were a part of that event or not, it spoke to the power of technology and the evolution of a new and constantly improving platform for communication and information. This is what the internet has become.

”Looking Good” Online

It’s become common for an employer to perform an immediate background check on a perspective candidate by looking them up on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. You are completely exposed. In parallel, you are your brand, whether you’re a company or an individual, and the internet is where your audience will find you and learn about you. It’s time to start to thinking about how you and your brand extends beyond your physical presence. Now would be the good time to take inventory and teach people about the potential of you and your brand. Instead of becoming the lame duck waiting for people to find you, be proactive and invest the time in fostering your voice, vision, mission and activities. If there’s anything unique about you and your offerings, incorporate and promote that message clearly within your website. Blogs, Facebook and Twitter are a great way to keep people abreast of what you’re up to, and are hard to beat as PR vehicles for you and your company.

Dynamic Content: Up-to-Date

We are in the time of “now” and the ability to make content dynamic. Ensure your content is current, up-to-date and consistently reflects your vision. A majority of sites are built on platforms that allow the owner of a site to be able to edit content on-the-fly. This kind of platform is called a Content Management System-CMS for short-and it allows all of the information of your site to be updated quickly and efficiently in real-time. A prime example of a website utilizing a CMS would be a blog, but this is just a beginning in the world of creating real content that matters. What does this all mean for your brand? This allows you to sit back, understand what content people are accessing and form and shape the content directly for your audience. You learn from their behavior and build a better forum that speaks more directly to them. If your audience finds you interesting, they’re going to want to invest time in learning about you. Also, the content you produce is easy to transfer to your social networking sites. With just a few clicks, you can post directly to Facebook or Twitter and generate more traffic to both your intended network as well as the millions of other users who can now find you on these media platforms. Just remember, content is still king, so make sure your site content-blogs, static pages, and interactive elements-is unique, compelling and adds value to the users’ life and experience.

If You Build It, They Will Come

As they said in “Field of Dreams,” if you build it, they will come. Also very true with the net. If you put a website up, of course you’re going to get traffic, but most likely it will not be much to brag about. So in reality, we need to talk about conversion and how we can use the traffic from that conversion to generate believers, followers and preachers of you and your brand. That is the golden key to a successful site on the internet. Create a brand and philosophy, build a website as an extension of that brand, then generate a following and offer them enough to want more. Once you have your site established and it is at a point where you are happy with it, get connected on social media and utilize the great power of these networking tools-you’ll tap into a whole new audience.

What do you have to say

Create your vision, set your goals and support that overall presence with a nice space on the internet which is all your own. The internet creates communities, clubs, friends and support groups, among other things. Audiences become heavy “die-hards” with cult followings when they find a place that speaks to them and their identity. Whether you own a company, or are a freelancer/contractor or are just an all-around interesting person with an online presence, take inventory and think about the overall feng shui of your “house.” Do this well, and chances are good you’ll notice a marked interest in what you’re up to-and in real time.