Web 2.0 is a strange thing in that it doesn't really exist. You can't buy Web 2.0; you can't buy a Web 2.0 programming language, and you can't buy Web 2.0 hardware. In many ways, the phrase "Web 2.0" is a marketing phrase like "paradigm shift" or "the big picture". The reason for this vagueness is that Web 2.0 doesn't have a tightly defined definition. What the phrase Web 2.0 tries to express is, that modern websites are so much better than early websites that they'd better be given a different name. So it is down to marketing.
Web developers need to demonstrate that they may use the same Internet, the same web browsers and the same web servers as their competitors, yet their websites are in fact an order of magnitude better. “Our competitors only do websites. We do Web 2.0 websites!"
The client is, of course, hugely impressed that his new website will be a Web 2.0 website. But what should he expect to see for his money? What is the client's view of what Web 2.0 should offer? Is it all smelling of roses or are there some thorny issues too?
I propose that there are in fact three facets to a Web 2.0 website:
2. Social Networking (Building Communities)
AJAX is technical and can only be performed by a technically skilled developer, social networking is vague, woolly and is based more on marketing models than web skills, and broadband has been popular for a long time. Even stranger is the fact that
In summary, we've had the ability to create Web 2.0 websites for years. It is not new technology; it is simply the renaming and repackaging of something we already have and enjoy. Marketing has made buzzwords of what we already knew and the public and developers are lapping it up.
The third facet of Web 2.0 was broadband, or as I prefer to call it, broadband abuse. Many developers believe that Web 2.0 is defined by how long it takes to download a website or the size of the broadband connection required to view the site comfortably. They believe that the bigger the connection required or the longer the website takes to download, the more Web 2.0ish the website must be. In my opinion, however, adding vast images, video footage, badly implemented rounded corners and streaming music does not make a Web 2.0 website. It simply makes a regular website that is bloated and annoying.
Presuming that you understand what makes a Web 2.0 website and you are keen to build one, there is an important area that you should consider before you start. And that is the area of Search Engine Optimisation.
So what about search engines? Do Web 2.0 websites perform well on search engines? Do search engines need to change to keep pace with development? If we ignore the broadband abusers and look at the two key facets of Web 2.0,
Working somewhat in reverse here, the conclusion is that
For the website user this addition of
But what about the search engines, what will they make of web pages that use
An ideal application of
A very poor application of
So what is the solution to the
- Build two websites, one using
that is lovely for visitors and another using more traditional techniques for search engine spiders to find. If you can find a client to finance both, you have found a client with too much money! AJAX
. Let the visitors suffer the page refresh. AJAX
- Run with
anyway and just put up with the fact that your perfectly formed website will receive no search engine visitors. AJAX
- Lobby the major search engines to rebuild their spidering algorithms to take into account
- Increase your Google Ad words payments and ramp up traditional advertising to counteract the missing website traffic from the search engines.
And so, a bleak picture of
The second most impressive application of AJAX is another Google idea, where when typing in the search field on the Google website, AJAX is used to find results even as you type the words—incredibly quick to use, fantastic for the website visitor, and really demonstrating the technology in a great light.
Isn't it hugely ironic then that the one website that demonstrates so well the very technology that, if used on our own websites, will force us to spend more on Google Ad words, is in fact Google.