Monthly Archives: June 2017

Designers Don’t Build A Web Business Part 1

Who makes your business?
Does the builder of your office make your business work? Does the sign company make your business work? We would never suggest that any business is successful except for the efforts of the owner/entrepreneur, but when it comes to web sites we think differently.

Why would we think that a web designer will build us an online business? Just because they say they will make your site stand out in a crowd? Just because they say they will drive traffic to your web site?

Maybe.

Maybe we believe the marketing hype because we want to, and we want to because we don’t have the technical know-how to make our own web site. Well, we don’t have the building skills to construct our own office either and that never stopped us from building our business.

The lack of technical know-how is no reason to hand over control to a web designer who knows nothing about our business or the market we serve. In fact it is downright dangerous and costly to follow a web designers ideas about building a web business.

What does a web designer know?
A web designer, having graduated from a college course in web design, knows how to build a web site. They do not know how to build a business. And this is where most of us get off track. We think that once the web site is designed then we are in business.

Compare this to buying an automotive repair shop with the hydraulic lifts and compressor, the work bench and office, and we would call this a working auto repair shop – but it is not an auto repair business until WE make it so.

We accept the recommendations of web designers and web marketing people and then believe that that is all there is to running a web business. The experts sold us a working web site, not a working web business. In fact, they didn’t sell us much of anything at all.

A custom web design in the digital virtual reality is something of a laugh because nobody starts from scratch, at least not for us small business guys. And that is not going to change, but maybe we will realize when we are paying too much for recycled ideas and copied code.

You are the business
After our web design has been built the biggest part of making it a business is yet to come. After the web experts have been paid all we have is a shell, just like the auto repair shop. Everything works and functions just fine, but there’s still no business for our new web site.

Unfortunately, if we had listened to the web designers we would have filled our web pages with filler and not real content. Filler is just a bunch of talk about our products or services and what a great business we are and why everyone should buy from us.

Who really believes what a company says about itself? Why would anyone, even in the market, care about filler that is very suspect?

We have been tricked
While we have been following the logic of web designers we have missed the shear genius of our own information. We have been tricked into thinking only about ourselves instead of thinking about our market. And it is not just the web industry that tricked us this way – it is old school offline marketing & advertising that tricked us first.

Putting the focus on our market is both the heart and brains of a business web site. We must first put our knowledge and experience for solving problems into the business and then we must talk to our web market as though we know them by name. And we do know them by name when we address them as a group of like minded people.

Standing apart
If we were to put our clients first and speak to them about their problems and how we can help to solve those problems then we would be one of the first small business web sites to do so. Our web content would be very different from any of our competitors. Our keywords would be more specific to the problems we solve. We would be giving our market what they really want and our web marketing costs would drop like a stone.

If we were to ignore all the experts in the web industry and paid full attention to our market there would be a big shift in how we did business. This much is pretty obvious and it’s hard for us to deny the value of communicating directly to our market with what they want to know. But, it’s hard not to shake with a little fear about wandering away from the comfort of doing what everyone else is doing.

2 Considerations
#1) If our web designer didn’t build us a web business, then they haven’t build anyone else a web business. What this means is that by being true to our business we have no competition.

#2) The risk in financial costs of attracting our real web market is tiny and the time it takes to build this into a business is less than the time we have already spent spinning our wheels and listening to others.

To make a web business happen we need to be engaged with our market and not expect anyone else to make it happen for us. We can look for help and learn from others, but if we expect designers to build our web business for us it will just another cookie cutter web site as they do what they have been trained to do.

To take control of our web business we need to know what our web market wants and what they need from us. This is not so difficult to do. To understand any web market, and our market specifically, you can find insights in the article in this series titled “Designers Don’t Build A Web Business Part 2”

The World Wide Web Will Be 25 Years Old

It’s only in 1989 that Tim Berners Lee wrote the first proposal for the World Wide Web, which was proposing a radically different way of sharing information on a global scale, built on the existing infrastructure of the internet.

And in that very short time, we’ve gone from nothing to 2 and 1/2 billion users and over 600 million Web pages. And both of those statistics is changing, going up all the time. We’ve built the largest information infrastructure in human history in just that short space of time. In this lecture, what I’d like to consider is two questions about that. The first one is, how on Earth did we get from there to here?

And very briefly, where exactly is here that we are at the moment? We’ve got some clues already from the previous lecture. So we know that the Web had a history. It didn’t come from nowhere. The Web was linked to technologies that existed before 1989.

The internet, of course, was really important–microchips, the personal computer, file transfer protocols. And it was also linked to much broader technologies that were shaping our modern world –mass production, electricity, the cables that provided the internet. But as well as technological innovations that enabled us to develop the Web, it’s important to recognize that it was linked to a cultural history. As we’ve heard in the previous lecture, it wasn’t the first way of thinking about a global information infrastructure.

And indeed, if you read science fiction at all, go and have a look at William Gibson’s book Neuromancer, was written in 1981. And you’ll find it almost impossible to imagine that that book was written before the Web existed, because there it is, in 1981, in this book. The Web also had a history that was tied in with economics and with social change. So we need to think about the postwar economic boom.

We need to think about electronics. We need to think about the Cold War. We also need to think about mass higher education and the way in which science was funded in the postwar period. So the Web had a history–a technological, a social, an economic, and a political history in terms of where it came from. In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee made a very specific proposal to use HTTP, HTML, and URLs or URIs to share information and to navigate information on a global scale.

At the very beginning, or so the story goes, Tim Berners-Lee kept a notebook, in which he decided he would write down every time a new Website appeared on the internet. And he got to 20 and decided that perhaps he would stop doing it, because it was getting a bit difficult to keep up with it all. You imagine the notebook he’d need now–over 600 million Websites and counting, 2 and 1/2 billion people and counting.

And you know what? The main uses of the Web are not physicists. So how did we get from there to here? A popular way of understanding science and understanding technical innovation is to imagine that innovations take off because they’re very clever and because they’re designed to achieve certain outcomes. So one answer to that question, how do we get from there to here, would be to say, well, it was designed to do that, and it’s a really clever technology.

I’m afraid I think that the answer to that is, no, that’s not how we got from there to here. And there’s three different things I’d like you to think about, which underline my reason for saying no. The first one is that technology on its own is not enough. However clever, however innovative something is, technologies don’t happen on their own. They happen because people use them.

And people use them or don’t use them depending on the circumstances of their lives, depending on their motivations, depending on all kinds of social and economic factors. So the World Wide Web is a really obvious point. It needs to be able to read and write. If we don’t have maths literacy, no one’s going to use the Web, or at least not on the scale that we’re used to.

We need disposable incomes. If people can’t pay for access to the internet, they can’t buy computers, they’re not going to use the World Wide Web. Slightly more complicated, this, but it needed a range of use values. So if all you could do on the Web was share physics datasets, not very many people would be using it. All the physicists might be, but nobody else would be using it. And it also needed an open model. If the Web had been copyrighted, if we have to pay every time we wanted to use it, would it looks like it looks today? I really don’t think that it would. And those of you who watched the opening ceremony of the Olympics last year in 2012 might remember Tim Berners-Lee being present to that ceremony with a message flashing around the Olympic Stadium in London, saying, this is for everyone.

And that has been a really important decision, I would say almost as important as the technologies themselves, in shaping how we got from there to here. So that’s the first reason. The second reason why we can’t just say that this was inevitable outcome of the technology that was developed is because the Web we have now, even in technical terms, is not the Web we had in 1989.

In 1989, or 1990, I suppose, to be more accurate, you could put static Web pages up–text, no visuals. And the only people really who could put Websites up were those who had quite high-level technical skills to be able to do that. All of that changed as we moved into a second generation of the Web, what people have called Web 2.0, where it started to look much nicer. You could have visuals, you could have dynamic Web pages.

All of it became much fancier, much more interesting and engaging. But also really importantly, Web 2.0 is used to describe a phase of the Web where user-generated content became possible. So it wasn’t just a relatively small number of people with high technical skills who could put information on the Web. All of us–you, me, anybody with access to the Web could put their information out there, whether it’s on Facebook or Twitter or whether we’re blogging, a whole range of ways in which people can share information, share their photographs, share their life histories, sell their products, be on eBay, whatever it is, user-generated content is driving the Web or has driven the Web to a large extent in terms of that growth in the recent period. It’s not stopping there. People now are talking about Web 3.0. And that’s something we’ll talk about later on it. But that is going to change again how the Web is and how we’re using it. The third reason why we can’t simply say, oh, the Web grew because it was a great technology, is because we’ve had to work very, very hard to make the Web what it is today.

Some of you will have heard of an organisation called W3C, the World Wide Web Consortium. The World Wide Web Consortium is an organisation that develops protocols and guidelines to ensure the stability of the Web and the continued growth of the Web. It’s an organisation that brings together governments, businesses, academics, a whole range of people who negotiate long and hard over how to enable the Web to continue to function in a stable,reliable, and sustainable kind of way. And it’s really important to know that at W3C, there’s two underpinning values. One is, the Web is for everyone. And two is, the second is, the Web is for everything. It has to be possible to use the Web on any kind of device, not on one that’s produced by one company or another company or a particular kind of device, but on any kind of device.

And again, you can imagine if that hadn’t been the case, the Web might look very different today to how it does. W3C isn’t the only organisation that’s doing all that hard work to try and hold the Web together. But it’s a very powerful organisation, and it has as its vision–I think it’s important to say this–a commitment to participation, knowledge sharing, and trust. And that’s not easy. That’s really, really hard work–the effort, the energy, that it takes to hold the Web together.

Should We Let Our Web Designer Off The Hook?

Misleading web marketing hype lacks professional integrity

Keep one thing in mind, the marketing hype about driving web traffic to your site simply reveals the lack of understanding in how the web works. Keywords are all about attraction and search engines pull relevant web sites to the top spots. The process of gaining traffic is based on attraction. There is no known means of driving web users to your web site or any other web site.

“Making your web site stand out in a crowd” is another myth, or “Your competitor’s web site is stealing your customers” is just more misleading sales hype. And what is worse is that many web designers believe in their own sales hype. But that’s not all.

Web professionals perpetuate a number of falsehoods about the web and it makes me wonder why they keep the truth hidden? Do they not understand the nature of the web, or can they make more money selling a dream than selling a reality?

People love the idea of overnight success and when they are told this is possible it is a hard thing to resist. Sales hype like “I will drive traffic to your site, make your site stand out in a crowd and you can sell your products to the world!” is exactly what we all want to hear.

An honest web designer would tell you that overnight success can only be achieved with the deepest of pockets for massive advertising campaigns. However, the alternative web marketing method is low cost long term goals that build tangible results that are as natural as the seasons where planting seeds leads to the inevitable harvest.

Yuk, we want instant
We want to sell to the world and have tons of traffic buying products off the shelf like there was no tomorrow. But what we get with that fairytale is quite the opposite of what we were told. After a few failures at overnight success schemes we realize that had we chosen a long term goal we would be getting somewhere by now.

Our biggest problem is finding a web designer that knows about low cost pull marketing and is willing to design our site for such a purpose.

Design over marketing

Web designers are artists. They are not business people and they know nothing about your business. Even when you are asked to provide a description of your web market – like, isn’t that the question you want to ask them? – they promptly forget what you said and dive into creating a masterpiece you are going to love. And you will love it.

Your market, on the other hand, won’t be impressed as they really don’t care what your web site looks like as they are more concerned about what your web site can do for them.

You’ve paid for a web design that pleases you. BUT, does it work to be of service to your market? Well… probably not. Does it support your market? Does it help educate your market? Does it build trust and form relationships with your market? Oh well, but the home page sure looks good to you.

King Kong headers

They’re everywhere and every web designer loves them. So what if it takes up all of the prime screen real estate, your web designer tells you it’s the latest thing. So much for making your web site stand out in a crowd!

A King Kong web header is mostly meaningless. It takes up an enormous amount of prime screen real estate but does almost nothing. When these King Kong headers are repeated on every page your web site is being robbed of prime marketing space over and over again. Just the fact that the header on every page is repeated means that it doesn’t have to be big at all.

Think about the terrific marketing that could use that space. Imagine calling out to your web marketing and naming their biggest problem. Isn’t that the headline news you would be better off with on your home page?

If it’s all about branding then the King Kong header is not doing you any favours. A big city skyscraper is probably not your company image, but it may reflect your dreams. Would you pay for that image on a billboard or a newspaper ad?

Image sliders

This is pretty much the same issue as the King Kong header. A lot of branding and marketing space given up for repeated images that get old really fast. If the image slider doesn’t have a specific marketing function then it is just robbing space.

Small font size

You spent a lot of time writing the best content for your market and the clever web designer sees all this text as ruining the artistic elements on the page. The solution is to make your best marketing information small and unreadable. You might think that the designer’s real motive was to make the text blend in with all the artistic elements but you would be wrong.

Web designers destroy your marketing content because it competes for attention with their idea of a beautiful business web site. Doing business? Well, art is not business and a web designer is all about art. I know – been there done that.

The Evolution of Word Wide Web

Introduction

World Wide Web (WWW) is the system of interlinked hypertext documents containing text, images, audio, videos, animation and more. User can view and navigate through these documents using hyperlinks or navigation elements which have references to another document or to the section of the same document. In a broader sense “The World Wide Web is the universe of network-accessible information, an embodiment of human knowledge.”

History of World Wide Web

WWW was first proposed in 1990 by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau while working at the CERN, the European Council for Nuclear Research. Both of them came out with their individual proposal for Hypertext systems and later on they united and offered joint proposal. The term “Word Wide Web” was first introduced in that joint proposal. The history of every invention has lot of pre-history. Similarly the World Wide Web has also lot of pre-historical gradual development of hypertext system and internet protocols which made the WWW possible. The gradual development started in the early 1945, with the development of Memex, a device based on microfilms for storing huge amount of documents and facilitating organizing those documents. Later in 1968 “Hypertext” was introduced, which made linking and organization of documents fairly easy. In 1972 DARPA (Defense Advance Research Project Agency), started project that connect all research centers to facilitate data exchange which later adopted for military information exchange. In 1979 SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) was invented to enable sharing of documents for large government project by separating content from the presentation and thereby enabling same document to be rendered in different ways. In 1989 Tim Berners-lee came out with Networked Hypertext system form CERN Laboratory. In 1990, joint proposal for hyper text system was presented and the term “World Wide Web” first introduced. In 1992 first portable browser was released by CERN, and that had picked up industry interest in internet development. Today web is so much popularized and has grown to be so invaded in to our lives; it becomes almost impossible to imagine the World without web.

Web Evolution – What and How?

Each technology has certain distinguished characteristics and features. Similarly web has certain features such as data, services, mess-up, APIs, social platform and more. These features are continuously and progressively evolving in distinct stages with qualitative improvements over the existing. Web evolution is categorized and hyped with some fancy marketing terms like “Web 1.0”, “Web 2.0”, “Social Web”, “Web 3.0”, “Pragmatic Semantic Web”, “Pragmatic Web” and many more.

Yihong Ding, PHD candidate at Brigham Young University, in his article on “Evolution of Web” explained the development of Web by analogically comparing it with the human growth. Yihong Ding stated “The relationship between web pages and their webmasters is similar to the relationship between children and their parents. As well as parents raise their children, webmasters maintain and update their web pages. Human children have their normal stages of development, such as the newborn stage, pre-school stage, elementary-school stage, teenage stage, and so on. Analogically, web has its generations, such as Web 1.0, Web 2.0, and so on.”

Along with technological advancement web design also changed over the period of time. Initial design was simple hypertext read only system which allowed users to read the information. User was just a viewer of what is presented on the web. Gradually images and tables added with evolution of HTML and web browsers, which allowed making better design. Development of photo-editing tools, web authoring tools and content management tools enabled designer to begin creating visually appealing website design layouts. In the next phase of development, web design changed with the change in usability and the focus is diverted on the users rather than the content of the website. User interaction and social touch is applied to the web design. Now user is not just a viewer. User can drive the web with feedback, information sharing, rating and personalization. Gradually we got the mature blend of function, form, content and interaction, called Read/Write Web. Continuing this evolution, meaning is added to the information presented on the web so that online virtual representatives of human can able to read and interprets the presented information. This kind of web where user agent imitating human behavior, can read and understand the information using artificial intelligence is called semantic web.

Web 1. 0 (Read Only Web)

World Wide Web is evolved in stages. First stage was the basic “Read Only” hypertext system also termed as Web 1.0 since the hype of Web 2.0. In fact in the original proposed web model, Tim Berners-Lee envisioned web as the Read/Write Model with HTTP PUT and HTTP DELETE method. These methods were almost never used just because of security reasons.

Some of the Characteristics of Web 1.0

1. In Web 1.0 web master is constantly engaged with responsibility of managing the content and keeps user updating. Majority of hyperlinks to the contents are manually assigned by the web master.

2. Web 1.0 does not support mass-publishing. The content on the website is published by the web master and thereby does not leverage the collective intelligence of users.

3. Web 1.0 uses basic hyper text mark up language for publishing content on the internet.

4. Web 1.0 pages do not support machine readable content. Only human who are web readers can understand the content.

5. Web 1.0 provides contact information (email, phone number, fax or address) for communication. Users have to use the off-line world for further communication with this contact information.

6. In Web 1.0, web pages are designed to react instinctively based on the programmed condition. Specific result or response is generated when the programmed condition is satisfied. Web 1.0 model does not understand remote request and can not prepare response for potential request in advance. To clearly understand above characteristics of web 1.0, Yihong Ding in his article on “Evolution of World Wide Web” has analogically correlated World of Web 1.0 with the world of a Newborn baby.