With all this Web 2.0 hoopla, developers like me are seeing increasing demand for new web design and development projects. Of course this is a good thing, any resurgence in the Internet sector means more sites need to be designed or redesigned. More projects, more revenue. But here’s the thing – many people aren’t even sure what Web 2.0 means. You ask different people and they’ll give you different answers or no answer at all. They hear this buzz word being floated around and they think it’s the next best thing, without really understanding what it means. Some critics say it’s a new mini-bubble. This becomes a big problem when a client or potential client tells me they want a “Web 2.0 design” or a “Web 2.0 site” instead of giving more detailed specs.
“I Want a Web 2.0 Site!”
How do I reply or even come up with design concepts when all I get is “give me something Web 2.0-ish”? Okay, let’s please kill the buzzwords. People who want sites developed should still be doing everything they’re supposed to do – research, planning, full specifications, and more planning. Obviously, along the way you should also be getting advice from a web professional. This is what you’re paying them for right? They’re in the industry, they should know what they’re talking about, they are there to advise you. That’s assuming you get a qualified developer.
Don’t look at sites in the Web 2.0 limelight, point to it and go, give me Web 2.0! The “beginning of the end” is slowly creeping along – we’re already seeing a few of these small Web 2.0 startups die off. One thing that’s very similar to the original bubble is that these startups are putting up sites and services without really thinking about revenue generation and long term goals. They all think they’ll get a boatload of users and then hopefully sell out.
Build a Real Business
Come on, people. Don’t put up a me-too site without really examining what extra value you can provide. What’s your competitive advantage? If it’s something relatively marginal and easily reproduced by competitors, it’s NOT a competitive advantage. Barriers to entry are getting so low. Anyone can have an idea, hire a developer (or build it yourself), and put up a site. But this is just like any other business startup, and you know what they say – 9 out 10 new businesses fail.
Look at Youtube. Huge membership growth, but they’ve yet to monetize – if they really had a good idea to monetize they should have done something by now. I mean, they’re serving up over 100 million videos a day. How many eyeballs is that? It’s crazy – yet they haven’t figured out how to be profitable with that size of audience. Meanwhile they’re literally burning through cash paying for servers and bandwidth. So it’s a lot harder than it looks people. Lots of buzz, coverage, or even popularity won’t cut it – this helps you get attention and awareness but underneath all that you need a sustainable business model.
10/14/06 Update: Okay so everybody now knows Youtube was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion. Uh, bubble? Admittedly, Google’s been good at producing cash so maybe they can figure out the business model or at least use data from Youtube for other purposes. I think this was the best thing that could’ve happened to Youtube – kudos to those guys for selling the company. You gotta know when to cash out. Not only that they get to stay and run the company in a semi-autonomous fashion. Sweet deal if you ask me. Not to mention the 3rd founder who left the company but still held a significant share of the pie.