The Web is Dead...
...according to the September issue of Wired magazine. That news was rather surprising to me given the amount of time we all spend on internet. And that is the point the author, Chris Anderson, is making - while we spend tons of time on the internet, we are spending less time accessing the World Wide Web. So what is the difference and why should you care? Let’s start with a review of the difference.
The InternetThe Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks. It is a matrix of networks that consists of millions of private, public, academic, business, and government networks and serves billions of users. These networks are linked by an extensive system of electronic and optical networking technologies. It is the internet that provides the infrastructure of the World Wide Web.
The World Wide WebThe World Wide Web is a sub-set of the Internet that works based on specific criteria. It consists of data that is programmed to be viewed by a web browser and can be transferred across the internet by specific transfer protocols. The data, which can include text, images and video, is programmed in HTML or other similar programming languages. The Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is the protocol most commonly used to transfer the data over the Internet.
Web BrowserWe also need to understand the role of the web browser in this intertwined relationship. It is the web browser that can access, interpret and graphically display the content of the World Wide Web, including your website. The web browser enables you to view web pages that can contain text, images, videos, or other multimedia. The web browser also lets you navigate between web pages by using hyperlinks. Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox are all examples of web browsers. OK, now that we got through that, if we are not spending as much time visiting websites, then what are we doing? According to recent data, we are spending a lot more time interacting with web applications than we are visiting websites. Facebook, podcasts, Skype and Netflix are all examples of web applications.
Web ApplicationsA web application uses a software program to collect, store and retrieve information on a server. Multiple computers from any location can enter data into the server. Software manages the presentation of the information to the viewer and also manages the storing and retrieving of the information. Web applications are designed to work on any operating system (PC or a Mac) and in any web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.).
A major divide between a website and a web application is that the World Wide Web is an open community searchable by Google and other search engines, while web applications are semi-closed, closed and/or proprietary networks that search engines cannot access. In spite of that, consumers are increasingly choosing web applications because they work well and fit their life style. We are now willing to pay for convenience and reliability. For example, we will pay 99 cents for a song on iTunes, even though we could probably find that song for free if we took the time to search for it. Web applications that are expanding include peer-to-peer file transfers (sharing information from computer to computer), e-mail, Skype calls, online games, iTunes, voice-over-IP phones, iChat, and Netflix streaming movies.
Keep Your Website Alive and WellAs you can see, you are now in competition with other websites as well as these web applications for consumers time and attention. You need to consider how consumers want to interact with your website and what you can offer that is interesting, entertaining and compelling. Start by making sure that you are using the latest technologies to your advantage. Data shows that consumers are actively using social media, so consider how your company can have a presence on Twitter and/or Facebook. Consider developing a blog that contains relevant information that your customers, and potential customers, will be interested in. A growing number of consumers use their mobile devices for access to data, so be sure your website is accessible and viewable on these devices. Your website should be built using the latest software codes and standards so that it is easily searchable. Take the time to review your website weekly to be sure that the viewable information is up to date, and every six months take the time to review the technical "backend" features of your website. The internet is a rapidly changing environment and standards are evolving.
Join us at our next Coffee Hour to continue this discussion:
Is Your Website Working for You?: Using Current Web Standards to Manage Your Online MessageSeptember 22, 2010 | 8:30 - 10:00am | Stevens 470
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