On Sunday, Dion Hinchcliffe wrote a post about the habits of successful Web 2.0 sites. I asked Dion a few weeks back if he was experiencing any backlash from being known as "Mr. 2.0" in a world that seemed to be less enthused about Web 2.0 and, in fact, becoming more cynical about it. Dion said that the anti-Web 2.0ness has subsided along with the over-enthusiastic furor.
In essence, now that the hubub is over, some actual work can get done. He gives some "essentials of leveraging web 2.0" in his post today which are:
Ease of Use is the most important feature of any Web site, Web application, or program Open up your data as much possible. There is no future in hoarding data, only controlling it. Aggressively add feedback loops to everything. Pull out the loops that don’t seem to matter and emphasize the ones that give results. Continuous release cycles.
The bigger the release, the more unwieldy it becomes (more dependencies, more planning, more disruption.) Organic growth is the most powerful, adaptive, and resilient.
Make your users part of your software.
They are your most valuable source of content, feedback, and passion. Start understanding social architecture. Give up non-essential control. Or your users will likely go elsewhere.
Turn your applications into platforms.
An application usually has a single predetermined use, a platform is designed to be the foundation of something bigger. Instead of getting a single type of use from your software and data, you might be hundreds or even thousands of additional uses.
Don’t create social communities just to have them. They aren’t a checklist item. But do empower inspired users to create them.
The first is dev 101, if you don't do this then you're gonna die anyway.
The rest are actual new thinking. People who dismiss Web 2.0 as a concept must accept that a few years back, the interchange of data, the acceptance of agile release cycles, and the idea of the users as part of design was very very rare. Now it is commonplace. We can bicker about Web 2.0 as a label, but the activities are now industry standard.
I don't necessarily agree with the last bullet, if your users appear and there is no infrastructure for a community, they will go somewhere else where it's easier to homestead. They will ignore you if it appears you are ignoring them. On the other hand, if you toss out a lame "community" framework - they will rebel as well.
If you have thoughtfully applied the bullet: Make your users part of your software. You are 90% of the way there already. If you have an open API and it's easy for your application to expand beyond the realm of your servers and what you have to share is useful, then you have an excellent bedrock for a community.
I would add that successful systems are semi-sticky. Sticky in the past has meant that people come and stare at the site dumbly for hours on end and you can pound them with adSense ads. But I think now successful sites, like YouTube, are semi-sticky. You can embed a YouTube video in your blog post or web page and YouTube loves you for it. The content is fully branded, YouTube gains notariety, the YouTube community grows, but YouTube doesn't force you to go to YouTube to see the video.
Sticky, yes! Dictatorial, no!
This also allows YouTube to build on other networks. YouTube's relative seemlessness allows people to inject their content into MySpace pages or whatever. YouTube then leverages the (shrinking) MySpace network in an elegant and natural way.
Successful applications in today's Internet space therefore allow the distribution of content throughout the Internet, as opposed to the manic mooking for eyeballs on the company's main site.
So I'd change Dion's last bullet to:
- Make Inclusive Communities -- make your communities thrive by providing interesting participation (see all my gaming posts) and by making it easy to include your content in other communities. Leverage and extend their popularity through your offerings.
Don't be lazy on this one. Uninspired architectures yeild uninspired communities.
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