Now that the responsive mobile platforms of Web 2.0 allow us to do almost anything from anywhere, it’s hard to remember a time when this technology was not at our fingertips. In a similar way, modern art changed the way we look at everything, including ourselves. This post highlights parallels between Web 2.0 and the history of modern. Why? To deepen our understanding of Web 2.0 technologies and predict where they are headed. There are smart ways to leverage Web 2.0 design on your ecommerce website to take it out of the museum and make it as engaging as a modern masterpiece.
Lesson #1: Design Your Business like an Abstract Painting
Like modern abstract paintings, Web 2.0 principles are not built on real-world equivalents. Instead, they create user experiences that are especially designed and streamlined for the internet. For example, Britannica Online was the equivalent of physical encyclopedia books, while Wikipedia, its Web 2.0 progression, is an open source, dynamic, encyclopedia of all things that is unlike anything in the analog world.
- The important lesson to learn here is that that procedures and practices in the analog world are not necessarily good on the web.
Often, exact real-world equivalents are clunky and confusing on websites. These functions are best reworked for the online ecosystem, and like an abstract painting, are defined on their own (virtual) terms.
For instance, submission form and email service requests online often go unanswered, making users feel like their service problems are being sent into a black hole. Instead, implement a faster web-based model of self-service such as an FAQ page, forum, or IM help line. Additionally, you can integrate your ERP into an online customer service center which allows customers to see their customers’ purchase history and product manuals.
Lesson #2: Celebrate Individual Creativity
Commentators often note the Internet’s ability to foster narcissism: Time magazine dubbed Millennials the “Me Generation.” On the flipside, however, Web 2.0 fosters a newfound appreciation for individual creativity. Just as modernism celebrates individual human emotion, Web 2.0’s user-generated content platforms allow individuals to share their thoughts, ideas, and artwork directly to their peers. Like the modern artists freed from old-world patronage systems, individuals are free to publish and publicize their own content without seeking establishment approval (blogging vs newspapers, YouTube vs film studios, streaming vs record labels, etc). Amateur designers and content creators often go viral and gain mainstream attention without relying on traditional media channels.
Because unaffiliated users and their content have credibility on the internet, companies are better able to use word-of-mouth and social sharing to market and improve their products.
- As an ebusiness owner, you should facilitate conversations between your users on third-party platforms or on your own site—you may be surprised by the ways your customers have individualized your products and made them their own.
Customer creativity also helps you bring greater value in the future as you develop and improve your product. Since creating and consuming flow into each other in the Web 2.0 world, the two-way conversation between companies and customers ultimately results in greater value for both parties.