The Nov. 2010 Wired Magazine cover article, “The Web is Dead” by Chris Anderson and Michael Wolf, was very interesting, but it really struck me in a recent experience with my 8-year-old daughter.
Basically, the article talks about the demise of the World Wide Web and browser-based websites as we have come to know and love them. Is it really dead? Not yet, but many (if not most) websites are definitely obsolete.
Both authors come at the “death of the Web” from two different points of view, but the bottom line is the same. The Web is changing from the “wide open Web” with tons of free content (good, bad or ugly) to a more closed, sleeker, prettier Internet…that we’re willing to pay for when it is more useful and/or more convenient.
The first point of view is from Chris Anderson. He talks about “Who’s to blame: Us” (the users) because, “as much as we love the open, unfettered Web, we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work.”
Michael Wolff articulates the second point of view, saying “Who’s to Blame: Them” (profit-seeking media moguls) because “Chaos isn’t a business model.” Basically, these guys are learning more ways to really make money from this digital world.
Stating the obvious, the digital culture is constantly changing. Those of us who were adults in the beginning of the Web, used to expect everything for free on the Web. It just wasn’t appropriate to charge for content on the “free” Web.
Now we’ll pay for easier or better…preferably both. It’s the American way. Take iTunes for example….thanks Mr. Jobs. You can still find most songs for download somewhere on the Web for free, but the only ones who are doing it are the ones with enough time on their hands and the technical skill to do it. For the rest of us, it is worth it to push a button and download a song instantly for 99 cents…on my computer or iPhone.
Digital Expectations of an 8-Year-Old
I was sitting with my daughter waiting for a doctor’s appointment a couple weeks ago and she was bored (surprise), so I decided to pull out my iPhone to see if I could entertain her with my cool new technology. I launched Safari and browsed to Webkinz.com. (For those of you without children, Webkinz is like Facebook for kids.) We logged into her account and tried to maneuver this tiny little screen for a few minutes and got very frustrated.
Now what? Hmmmm. Let’s try the App Store. Guess what, there is a Webkinz game App we can download for exactly 99 cents. Problem solved. We downloaded the App and in seconds my daughter was able to entertain herself for the next 30 minutes of waiting. Well worth the investment!
The 1 Thing You Need to Do Now….Blow Up Your Website and Create a communication hub.
What does this mean for us as marketers? Does this mean we all need to come up with an App to entertain 8-year-olds? No, but if we have valuable information that we want our target audiences to see, we have to deliver it differently than we have been.
That cool, award-winning website you just spent years (and good money) to re-design to make it more user-friendly and technically up-to-date is pretty much rendered obsolete by a target audience who is growing up with 99 cent push button expectations. They flat out will NOT dig for the valuable information you have buried in your website….regardless of how good it actually is.
Move from a static website to an interactive hub.
We need to move our web content from a structured, organized (by internal departments) tomb to a flexible hub format so people can get the information as they want it, when they want it and where they want it….from your website, from your blog, from Facebook, from Twitter, from YouTube, from LinkedIn, from a phone, from a computer, from anywhere.
It doesn’t matter what we say about us. It only matters what others say about us.
Plain and simple, if you don’t have an integrated communication hub, that allows people to communicate with you seamlessly regardless if they’re on a smartphone, a web browser, Facebook or Twitter, you’re talking at people, not with people….and nobody is listening. And nobody is talking about you.