Web Evolution – A History of Web Design Over the Past 20 Years

Below is a graphic developed by KISSmetrics outlining the evolution of web design since the world’s first website was launched  in 1991.

In only 20 years the definition of a “web presence” has evolved to the point that today, many argue that traditional websites are becoming obsolete.  When discussing the promotion of his new book, Guy Kawasaki recently suggested that he didn’t need a website to reach his target customers, but a Facebook page instead.

Static websites are a thing of the past and concepts like collaboration and crowd sourcing are becoming web standards.  Of course, the evolution will continue and even these concepts will become old news (probably even faster than traditional web pages).  The infographic below is a great reflection of where we’ve been in such a short period of time.  One can only speculate what this chart will look like 20 years from today.


Failure to Launch

Today, the Harvard Business Review featured an article by Umair Haque on the importance of failure.  While it is often difficult for people to look at failure positively, it’s usually failure that allows us to grow both personally and professionally.   Failure gives way to new learnings, new solutions and ultimately, innovation.

“A system that fails to fail lacks the capacity to evolve — much less to gain resilience, or, above all, wisdom.”

Similarly, Seth Godin’s book “The Dip” discusses the importance of knowing when to quit.  A product marketer that spends too long on projects that are likely to fail will have less success than a person that identifies the projects that are unlikely to succeed earlier in the development process.  The difference is that the second person fails faster, allowing them to get to the good ideas quicker.

In a perfect world we’d all be successful at every attempt we made.  Unfortunately, without failure we’d never gain the insight required to come up with truly innovative solutions. 

Besides, without failure we’d never have discovered the post-it note!

Guy Kawasaki: Enchantment

In the video below, marketing guru Guy Kawasaki talks about his latest book “Enchantment:  The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions”. Guy discusses what he views as the pillars of enchantment; likability, trustworthiness and great cause.

It’s clear that while marketing contributes to the bottom line, it’s great products that are the cornerstone for any company’s success.  Marketing can optimize the success of a product offering, but without quality products it’s unrealistic to expect enchantment be achieved. What makes your products great?

Groupon: 50% Off What?

Recently valued at over 5 billion dollars, Groupon has taken the impact of collective buying power to new heights. Customers receive 50-90% off coupons to some of their favourite products and services under the condition that a deal sells beyond a set “tipping point” set by Groupon and its partnering suppliers.

Today; however, Groupon was under scrutiny for a deal with FTD that offered 50% off flowers over Valentine’s Day.  The coupon redirected customers to a site that sold flowers at a higher price than on their regular website.  Groupon has since cancelled the offer and have been working with FTD on a solution to remedy the negative publicity.

While it’s good to know that Groupon is listening to its customers and taking corrective action, what do you think Groupon should do to prevent this in the future?  Though many subscribe to the belief that customers are always right – should they have been surprised that there would be a mark-up on flowers on the week of Valentine’s Day?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Socialnomics 2.0

Have a look at how many times this video has been viewed since it was posted on YouTube earlier this week and you’ll get a feel for what the social media revolution really means, and a sense of exactly what Eric Qualman is getting at with his message.   It’s clear social media is not a fad, but as it is put within the video, a “fundamental shift in the way we communicate”.  As communicators, marketers can no longer overlook this medium as a way to reach customers.

How the Online Can Benefit Small Businesses

I came across this quote on social media today that I really feel is a great representation of how small businesses can take advantage of online channels to project specialist knowledge to wider audiences of target customers:

“Taking the time and having the patience to build authentic relationships is the name of the game. You have to be out there offering helpful content and resources for free for a long time before you will develop a following. And you have to understand that of the people who follow you, only some will actually buy products or services from you. Companies have to be willing to openly engage with community members via blog comments, Twitter responses, etc. Putting your messages out there without regard to community reaction will simply not do.”   – Alexandra Levit

Small businesses have always had the advantage of specialist knowledge or capabilities that have allowed their products or services to thrive within the communities they could reach. Now, with platforms like YouTube and Twitter, specialists can share their passion and love for their craft to touch and inspire larger audiences than ever before. In the online world, customer service and real interactions are what drive the value businesses provide to their customers, and new communication channels are undoubtedly evening the playing field for the smaller players that have the foresight to take advantage of the opportunity.

Foursquare: Will it Catch On?

It’s no secret that geosocial networking application, Foursquare, has been slow to gain popularity with the masses.  In a results-driven society, people are quick to dismiss ideas that do not produce immediate results, and sometimes miss the bigger (long term) picture.

Remember when Twitter was known mainly for its capacity to track the activities of superstar athletes and Hollywood celebrities?  For quite some time people questioned Twitter’s application to businesses, some of whom probably still do.   The fact of the matter is, social media strategies are being made higher priority as the corporate sector begins to realize their potential return on investment.  Companies are finding ways to engage customers and provide better service than ever before using Twitter as the basis for their efforts, and many have benefitted largely from having the foresight to recognize Twitter’s long term application.  

So before criticizing Foursquare’s current usage levels, let’s consider what ‘could be’.  Five years from now when everyone has a GPS enabled Smartphone, how will they decide where to eat dinner on Saturday night?  It’s possible that they’ll already have a place in mind, but let’s imagine for a moment that they’re downtown and looking for something different.  Maybe they’ll check their phones to see where their friends are having dinner.  Maybe they’ll check to see what other people are saying about restaurants in the area.  Maybe they’ll even see that a restaurant just around the corner is having a half price chicken wing special and that Foursquare users have rated it two thumbs up.  It’s hard to conceptualize something that hasn’t yet materialized, but all three of the above ‘scenarios’ involve capabilities enabled by Foursquare. 

Let’s not forget that Smartphones are still a relatively new development.  As more people purchase Smartphones we may see the use of Foursquare increase rapidly.  And while no one can really predict whether or not it will catch on, the potential benefits are certainly worth a wait and see approach.  Content is required to populate the application, but time is required for that content to be created and added by users (who aren’t likely to adopt the service all at once).  Rome wasn’t built in a day and even though it’s 2010, no one should have expected Foursquare to be.