Web 2.0 has been a major buzz phrase for years, but what does it really mean? How has the Internet changed recently, and what does this mean for ordinary people and small businesses?
Web 2.0 User Input
There was a time within many readers’ lives when the Internet was primarily the demesne of nerdy individuals and major corporations. At that point, blogging either did not exist or was in its infancy, which relegated most user input to either buying something, reading a website someone else had built, or building their own website. There was a de facto near-monopoly affecting online information.
It is important to note that in that era, building a website was far more difficult than it is now. There were no “point and click” website builders, and many individuals coded their early sites using the Notepad program on their computers. As well, finding affordable hosting was also a challenge, and many early website owners also had to purchase and maintain their own servers. These imposed reasonably large barriers to entry.
Web 2.0 is different in that the prior barriers are largely gone. As well, many websites have appeared that allow users to submit their own content. Social media allows for simple postings on a pre-made forum, and blogging is now a very mainstream operation. Even traditional articles published on major websites, complete with editorial oversight, now have un-moderated comment sections where anyone can say their peace.
The widespread usage of the Internet has led to the differentiation of ideas, where anyone’s voice can be heard. This has opened up tremendous capabilities for sharing knowledge and solving puzzles.
Voting With Their Phones
Another difference between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 is access points. Wifi has opened up access to people who used to be too low-income to afford the Internet, allowing their input to become more widespread. An even larger addition of Web 2.0 has come from how most users now access the Internet from their phones instead of computers.
Not having to go home to go online has led to people who are “in the moment” being able to learn and state their opinions from anywhere and at any time. This ease of access allows more spur-of-the-moment conversation and idea flow.
User Experience Customization
The emergence of mobile-optimized websites has given rise to a more robust user experience. Users now expect to be able to click or tap on an image to resize it or learn more information about it. Users are also accustomed to seeing their custom “feed” of articles, posts and tweets from friends and other things that interest them. Today’s website owner has to provide a tailored and enjoyable user experience, or they will be left behind.
Software and Service
In recent years, software as a service or SAAS has become a major tool for many users. SAAS is where a piece of software allows automated usage online. Since most devices are now connected all of the time instead of having to “dial in” like in the old days, a large number of programs can now operate in the background, providing information and allowing business practices to happen more efficiently than ever before.
Web 2.0 looks different, but looks are just the beginning of how the Internet has changed.