web_20_cloudWho am I? Do I have a web identity? Well- did you go and “google your name?” Google your company or club? Try it. See what comes up. It’s not just companies that are struggling today to harness the power of the internet.

The technology is fast and furious and it’s difficult to navigate. It’s not just how you get info out there, but more around how you can control it. With the integration of social networking sites like Linked In, Facebook, Yelp, Myspace, the point is clear- the internet is changing and it’s more interactive then ever before. It’s the internet on steroids.

Web content providers offer all kinds of freebies and discount promotions to get you started, but you normally find after you get started that there are all kinds of of other bells and whistles that you’ll need. Let’s try to set the record straight.

First Things First

You need a plan. You need to sit down and define the objectives of the site.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • How do you hope they find you?
  • Are you sending your constituents to your site, or are you competing in the “search craze” hoping search engines like google will get you there?
  • How long do you want them to stay on your site?
  • Do you want their opinion on anything?
  • Where do you plan to get your information from? Self created or from somewhere else?
  • Do you want visitors to register so you can contact them later?
  • Is your content going to change?
  • Are you trying to automate certain processes online? e.g. sell something, take an order, confirm a shipment.
  • Does the information need to go to a mobile device?

There’s lots of additional questions. The point is here’s where you start thinking: “who, what, when, where, why, how? Think it thru. Take a look on the web and start looking for things you like or appreciate.

What’s Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is nothing more than the same internet powered with the ability to interact with the user. But be careful what you wish for. You’ve heard about places like Facebook, Myspace, blogsites and such. These are sites built to draw the user in and share, collaborate, communicate. If that’s not your intention, then maybe the complexities of web 2.0 are not for you. I personally love the idea. But there needs to be controls so you don’t get runnaway commentary, posted pornography (unless you want that sort of thing), or negative commentary. It’s a bit of an unfiltered world, and it can become time consuming to control. So be careful.

social_web_cloudThe Cloud

There’s a term used frequently which you need to understand. Web sites today are not just information you create on your computer and upload to your site. An effective site today will make use of software applications and data that are somewhere else (in the virtual cloud). You may never see it- you may never look at it. But you will need to integrate it into the architecture of you site.  Blogs are great examples of “software in the cloud.” You can simply go to a place like wordpress.com and in a few minutes get a free website ready to go with all kinds of supporting software (called widgets) that quickly plug into your blog. It’s confusing for the newbie, but in actuality, it’s opened up a whole new world of communication between those who want to communicate and those who want to learn. But again, it’ll only work if it fits the architecture of your design.

Tips and Suggestions for Creating a New Web Identity

I can’t come up with them all, but here are a few words of wisdom:

  • Personal Websites – Blogs are a great web solution that cost almost nothing to get up and running.
  • Small Clubs/Organizations: Blog sights like Blogger and WordPress are great options.
  • Blogs are good for those with little money to invest.
  • If you’re a business – start basic, but think about a long term strategy.
  • It’s like building a house – you better have an architect to convert your vision to paper. Your plan is your drawings.
  • All businesses no matter what need a marketing plan and money allocated to the cause (a % of revenue).
  • A web presence blows away any yellow page ad!  So if you think you don’t have marking money- go look there.
  • Unless your an individual building a personal site, don’t dabble in web design.
  • There’s a science and a business to get to the top of a search engine query. It’s called SEO (search engine optimization).
  • Want a professional design – hire a professional. Seriously.
  • The second someone mentions database – your costs are going up.
  • Your website will crash – they break – so know who’s gonna fix it.
  • Support contracts are needed becuase the internet changes. So don’t be left out when a forced upgrade somewhere kills your website.
  •  Tech Developers in the US will run $50-$150/hr, unless you have some contract. It’s right up there with plumbers, but not quite at lawyer levels. It is worth the effort.
  • Those who design sites are Project Mgrs, Business Analysts, Web Designers. Don’t hire a web developer to design. They’ll just build what you tell ’em to build. There are the occasional builder who’s a GC and an Architect. Beware of the “bundle.”
  • The minute you get fancy- the cost goes up.
  • More bells don’t mean they’ll stay.
  • Get visitors to stay. Video is a great “keeper”.
  • If you get them to register for something – you’ll be able to contact them later.
  • Change your content, or they won’t come back.
  • Video is big – it keeps your visitors there longer.
  • Get your visitors to do someting, or at least provide the ability to do something (poll/comment/vote/recommend).

What else have you learned or seen? I’m sure there’s more to consider.

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