What is Web 2.0 ?

Web 2.0
It’s about using the Web collaboratively — sharing and mixing up information and resources — so moving on from the first generation of the Web, which was more about using websites just to publish content and sell things. A Web 2.0 Design is all about simplicity. Is about designing the content in order to look simple, straightforward easy to use. Is about guiding the website visitor directly to the content they are interested in. The more stuff there is, the less likely is for the user to grasp all the necessary information without difficulty.

When you talk about Web 2.0 standards, one of the more common ingredients would probably be use of the AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML) programming technique — a technique that generally speaking adds an element of real-time interactivity to Web pages that might otherwise be very static.

Navigation should be easily identifiable and selectable on each and every page. Users need to know where they are and where they can go so they won’t feel lost. All the links should be clearly identified.

Web 2.0 in other words means globalization ("making global information available to local social contexts and giving people the flexibility to find, organize, share and create information in a locally meaningful fashion that is globally accessible")

Web 2.0 is a combination of the technology (like AJAX) allowing the customers to actually interact with the information. Web 2.0 is starting to mean the situation where amateur writers and developers are able to create applications and Web sites that get more credibility than traditional news sources and software vendors. This combination of powerful JavaScript tools like AJAX enabling nearly anyone to contribute to and interact with the data that we are all working with is really what Web 2.0 is.

Sites with large, bold sans-serif fonts, large form field boxes, “Beta” baked into the logo, and slick DHTML interfaces all look worthy of a Web 2.0 label, but often this is little more than updated branding. If your current CMS can't handle this, it doesn't belong on any version of the web.

There are a number of Web-based services and applications that demonstrate the foundations of the Web 2.0 concept. These include blogs, wikis, multimedia sharing services, content syndication, podcasting and content tagging services.

Principles of Web 2.0

The following 6 principles are our working guidelines for what it means to think and be Web 2.0.

1. Be Informal; Embrace the Bottom-up Model.
The popular ClueTrain Manifesto states that “markets are conversations.” Your audience doesn't want to be talked at with marketing gloss. They want an honest dialog with real people behind the firewall and with other community members who understand and are active in the site or service context.

If the Web 2.0 world could be characterized one way, we would call it a hairy, grammatically incorrect, often irreverent and sometimes downright offensive conversation.

Loosen the tie and drop the canned answers. The Web 2.0 world embraces organizations, content and services that are candid and accessible.

2. Data is the Application.
Owning unique content is more valuable than owning the software. Your content is even more valuable if you can open it up for broad and creative use.

O’Reilly said “Data is the New Intel Inside”, others have said “SQL is the new HTML”. Boil this down and it means people come for the value living inside your data, and they want to leverage it in ways you may never have imagined.

Don’t let the limitations of your own imagination constrain the value of your content. Open the front door and give ‘em all the side doors they want.

3. Participation is Key.
O’Reilly described this as harnessing the collective intelligence. Get your community of users to participate. This will create the true value of your service or content and keep that value vibrant and dynamic.

Keep in mind that the people that become participants are typically the types who act on a larger stage. They are frequently more avid consumers, better employees and perhaps also the squeaky wheels that affect the opinions of others.

Let interactions be flexible. Trust the crowd. Embrace participants. Give them the tools to share what they know.

4. The Interface Must be Rich, Yet Simple.
When having what we might describe as a Web 2.0 Experience, you no longer have the sensation of clicking from one page to another so much as you have the feeling of being on what Immediacy’s John Goode called an “ergonomic journey.”

Now, we love John’s description, but that may be setting the bar a little high. The bottom line is that the browser-based experience has evolved. You can call this AJAX infiltration or point to the maturation of JavaScript libraries, but regardless of the root, the fact is that end users now expect a significantly more sophisticated client interface.

To be considered a modern web UI, the interface must be functionally rich, response times must be fast and a careful balance must be struck between features and simplicity.

5. Content is Objects, Not Pages.
Today’s web content is less about layout and more about structured entities that support a broad range of use cases and are flexible enough to be adapted, packaged and mashed in new ways.

The latest shift may be at least partially characterized as a transition from a Web 1.0 world of “pages” to a Web 2.0 world of content objects and micro content requests. To put yet another twist on a well-worn term, we can call this AJAX-ified content.

This change does not mean the page concept is dead. It does however mean that editors, content managers and CMS vendors must be thinking and acting differently.

Your CMS vendor needs to understand that your content managers will need to do more than just edit pages, and accordingly provide a data model, the tools and the interface to support management and publishing of rich content objects.

6. The Web is a Multi-device, Evolving Platform.
True Web 2.0 services deliver digital stuff to multiple devices or applications. Web content has gone beyond the browser.

The iPod or iPhone, combined with iTunes, is a real example of this. In combination this service is multimedia, multi-device and multi-purpose. Apple has truly embraced Web 2.0 principals and as a result their iTunes service is emerging as a flexible platform with new uses and purposes every day.

The ideal is to make your service interfaces standard, flexible, lightweight and multi-device friendly. Don’t think in terms of delivering discreet software. A Web 2.0 application is a hub.