What Web 2.0 Means For Developers and Entrepreneurs

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.

3 responses to “What Web 2.0 Means For Developers and Entrepreneurs”

  1. hi philip,

    how is it going?

    in Bay Ridge public lib today – waiting on my volvo to get some work – best to wait in the area & do some work – than spend time driving back & forth to Queens. gotta love the public library system – free wifi here – great facilities. such a wired world we live in – can you imagine life without the internet or cell phones? did you hear of the proposal to make domain reg priced at market value upon renewal? right now for most other domains, not .com – but Verisign will also market price domains if this current proposal gets pushed through – first net neutrality & now this. table is getting tilted in favor of players with deep pockets –> repubs again.

    good luck with your direct campaign. i still think that choosing a vertical, like chiropractors, dentists, m&p realtors in the NYC area might make more sense – small biz people still want to do a meet & greet with their vendors.

    let me know if I can help out.

  2. Yes I’m also going to target niches but that’ll take some other legwork and planning a bit further down the line. Right now, I’m trying to establish some initial awareness.

    I actually didn’t know public libraries have free wifi now – pretty convenient.

    Yes, I’ve read about the ICANN proposal that would allow market pricing which is wrong and I’m sure 99% of all domain owners would be opposed to. I don’t know how they come up this crap, it’s unbelievable. ICANN is already in a spat with domain registrars about previous changes that would allow Verisign to increase domain renewal prices and now this?! With all these developments I’d support international oversight/control of ICANN and the domain system, which the international community has been clamoring for.

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