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.

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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.

Spreading Ideas

Many of you have probably seen the ‘free hugs’ video on numerous occasions, used to illustrate the power of the Internet and ease of communication through online channels.

Today, the online space represents endless opportunity for passionate people to spread their ideas and make a difference. The online support for Haiti is a great example of this. Sites like YouTube have become both a source for information on Haiti’s condition as well as a platform for people to show their support for the devastated country.

With the tools available to us today, with a good idea or passion for a cause, anyone can truly make a difference.

Fiesta Farms Connects with Customers Online

Toronto Grocer Joe Virgona has taken a non-traditional approach to marketing his grocery store ‘Fiesta Farms’ with a heavy emphasis on social media and connecting with who he believes are net-savvy target customers.

With the store’s new website having only launched late in 2009, it is difficult to assess how effective the online approach will be long term.  In my opinion, Fiesta Foods is doing exactly what more small businesses need to be doing to expand their target customer groups and compete in what has become an age of big business dominance.

Known for its emphasis on providing natural and organic foods to health conscious consumers, Fiesta Foods has created an interactive online presence allowing it to display its specialist knowledge to potential customers across the Greater Toronto Area.

“More than anything else, it’s building your community”, Virgona said in a recent article published in the Globe and Mail. “But keep your site interesting or they won’t come back on.  Done correctly, it’s probably the cheapest advertising that any grocery store is going to get today.”

Setting a Precedent: Social Media Case Studies

Yesterday I discussed the difficulties associated with implementing a social media strategy without being able to attach a specific revenue figure to your efforts.  One of the biggest issues for many corporate decision makers is putting their support behind a project without a precedent.  It’s understandable that a marketing manager be skeptical of a campaign that they don’t feel is ‘tried, tested and true’.

Entrepreneur Todd Maffin recently launched a website intended to provide marketers with the social media precedents they’ve been looking for to help justify their online marketing activities.   CaseStudiesOnline.com is a database of over 300 social media case studies, searchable by numerous characteristics including, industry, demorgraphics and type of organization. The website is far from complete, but will continue to grow as more cases are added to the database.

The rapid growth of online marketing has made it difficult to track successful social media initiatives, particularly those that relate to a company’s specific scenario (demographic, industry, product type, etc…). Todd Maffin has completely altered this dynamic, providing a space that marketers can use to convince management that proposed online activities are worth the investment in resources. By finding cases that they can point to as proof of past success, marketers should have less difficulty justifying the long term benefits of engaging customers online. Now, it’s the job of marketers to set further precedents that build on these examples and continue to prove the long term viability of online customer engagement and social media marketing campaigns.

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

If it’s not already, it’s probably something that you and your company should begin to consider. In an age where, in many cases, text messages have replaced real conversation, we must begin to embrace the reality that the mobile age is upon us. Gone are the days that we required a computer and a connection in the wall to send an e-mail or research a local restaurant, today our phones are our computers and enhancements and new developments will only continue to expand the functionalities of mobile devices.

Remember a time when everyone said that it would be critical for you to build an online presence?  Some people slowly migrated online, while many others took a wait and see approach, however; it was the people who adapted quickly and recognized the opportunity that the online landscape had to offer who really reaped the benefits.

Fast forward to today.  We have reached a point similar to that time when people were telling you how critical it was that you build an online presence, except this time we’re talking about building a mobile friendly online presence.  The iPhone and introduction of Google’s Nexus One have paved the way for further evolution and huge opportunity in the world of marketing.   Marketers must ensure that customers can easily navigate their websites from their mobile phones, without the hassle of having to resize text or scroll outside the border of the phone’s display screen.  If they don’t, they risk the chance that customers viewing their brand online become frustrated with their experience.

If you were slow to recognize the benefits of an online presence, here’s a chance to redeem yourself.  Avoid negative customer experiences, improve the visibility of your brand and take advantage of the vast opportunity that mobile marketing has presented us with.