I gave a presentation at my BNI meeting yesterday. My group members wanted to know, “What are the current trends on the Web?” While preparing an answer, I reflected on the work that clients have requested during the dozen years that my website design and development business has existed. Interestingly, I discovered that there have been 4 waves of website trends. They are:
- Establish a Web Presence
- Level the Playing Field
- Get Found
- Build Community
Establish a Presence
When I started Adventures Online 12 years ago, getting businesses to establish a presence on the Web was the focus, and at the time, many business professionals did not understand what the Internet was, and therefore were not convinced of the potential (positive) impact it could have for their businesses. Other businesses, what I would call “forward-thinking businesses”, were looking for new marketing opportunities and quickly took to the idea. For those risk-takers, the trend was to design and develop brochure-type websites.
Level the Playing Field
The next trend developed as a reaction to more and more businesses establishing presences on the Internet. When businesses in the same industry and especially, in the same geography, established presences, the goal of website development tasks shifted to leveling the playing field. Competitors had launched their websites with snazzier designs, more information and more functionality than those who had launched websites earlier. The bulk of the Web work revolved around bringing clients’ websites up to speed with the websites of their competitors.
Then we reached the point where there were millions and millions of websites – and – millions of websites representing businesses that offer the same services and who all claim to be the best in their field. The focus of client requests shifted to: “Help me get found on the Internet!”. And, so, for several years the bulk of web work has been search engine optimization (SEO), and, my goal has been to get my clients’ websites higher rankings in the search engines.
Recently, the popularity of the social networking websites has created a new trend, and that is to continue the community building begun at the Big 3 (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) at their own websites – and – to encourage visitors to their websites to connect with them and their communities via the Big 3. It’s a closed-circle community-building experience.
Since clients are actively driving traffic to their websites via the social networking websites, they have a heightened awareness of their responsibility to ensure that their websites contain link-worthy content and functionality that encourages conversation and community building. Typical requests these days are to:
- Add links to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter profiles
- Add blogs to websites of businesses that had previously resisted blogging
- Add widgets, plug-ins, and functionality to websites and blogs so that the websites and blogs more similar to social networking websites
I am interested in learning what others have experienced – from both the website development and end-client perspectives. What have you experienced?