Last week I posted on RSS-enabling your website so that visitors can subscribe to your regularly updated content. As I mentioned in that post, and as Laura Whitehead brought up in comments, RSS only makes sense, though, when your website actually provides timely news and information. If your site is simply an online brochure, then RSS isn't going to do much for you.
This got me to thinking about the fact that many organizations are still trapped in a Web 1.0, one-way approach to developing their websites. They haven't moved into the Web 2.0 approach, which emphasizes two-way communication, collaboration and feedback and websites as a service. This isn't surprising or a criticism--many organizations are still struggling with how to fit into this new world. But it is a suggestion that we need to look at the situation more carefully if nonprofits hope to transition with the way the rest of the world is moving.
Are You Website 1.0 or 2.0?
Tim O'Reilly is credited with the first articulation of Web 2.0 and its principles. You can read his discussion of that here. But that feels a little too complicated for the point I'm trying to make, so I went looking for some other ways to explain the differences.
Joe (one of our clients) has written a little comparative analysis of Web 1.0 vs. Web 2.0:
- Web 1.0 was about reading, Web 2.0 is about writing
- Web 1.0 was about companies, Web 2.0 is about communities
- Web 1.0 was about client-server, Web 2.0 is about peer to peer
- Web 1.0 was about HTML, Web 2.0 is about XML
- Web 1.0 was about home pages, Web 2.0 is about blogs
He has about 15 such points. Here are a couple more, off the top of my head:
- Web 1.0 was about lectures, Web 2.0 is about conversation
- Web 1.0 was about advertising, Web 2.0 is about word of mouth
- Web 1.0 was about services sold over the web, Web 2.0 is about web services
A couple of others that I would add to the list:
- Web 1.0 was about getting everything on the home page, while Web 2.0 is about design and usability that is clean, simple and easy to navigate.
- Web 1.0 was about pushing information to the masses, Web 2.0 is about pulling your own customized info.
Why Should I Care About Having a Web 2.0 site?
Our expectations of an organization are increasingly being set by their web presence. Google has become the way that most people do initial research and the first place most people will look for you is on the web. As people use more and more Web 2.0 sites, they come to expect certain things--a certain look, particular functionality, the ability to engage in 2-way conversation and to customize their interactions. If an organization's web site is merely an online brochure, then it's less likely to get people's attention. And if it looks like a home page from the late 90's, you'll look like your organization is woefully out-of-date.
So How Do We Go 2.0?
The question is, how do you take your site to the next level? Or if you're putting up your first site, how do you make it 2.0? Here are a couple of resources that will give you some ideas:
- 12 Ways to Turn Your 1.0 Site into a 2.0 Site
- Redesign Your Website to Become 2.0: Quick Tips
- Some Tips to Make a Better Website
- Vince Flanders' Checklists of Design Sins that Will Kill or Maim Your Website. (Note--Vince is pretty blunt in his commentary, so be prepared).
Don't worry about doing everything all at once. You can sketch out where you want to go with your site and then add features and functionality in a phased process. The point is to start changing your mindset from a 1.0 "brochureware" approach to a 2.0 "site as service" approach. Keep thinking about how your site can help your visitors DO something (Kathy Sierra calls it "helping users kick ass") and you'll be on the right track. And don't forget--your organization needs to be Web 2.0-enabled, too.
If you liked this article, then you may want to sign up to be automatically notified when I add new content. Learn more here.