Archive for the ‘Web 2.0’ Category

Information Architecture Design: Optimizing the Usability of a Website


Designing and developing a basic, simple and small website is a simple job. However, the process can be complex when you develop an extensive and complex website. There are so many pages to be developed and/ or designed. And these pages are filled with not only the text but also images, videos, games and animations and other multimedia elements etc. Moreover, these websites run with multiple and complex applications. Hence the entire website design and development process can be minute. And a very important aspect of this entire process is information architecture design. It refers to scientifically structuring the information of your website so that users can enjoy ready and easy access to all types of information on your website. Information structuring thus aims at optimizing the usability of a website from the publisher as well as users point of view.

A web information architect’s job is not technical but it requires a scientific process to execute the job. He collects all the information and organized them into categories for which an interface is created. And he is also responsible for prioritizing the information based on value and significance. And this is gain decided by assessing the requirements of your target users. And the nature of the online users is such that they want the information readily presented and hate investing time and effort in searching for information they are looking for in a website. A user-friendly site always attracts visitors whereas those sites which are haphazardly structured are not revisited. An information architect also works in close association with the site designers and the developers.

Many web based companies offer information structuring services. They may also offer related services such as development of personal information management applications. A personal information management program comes across as a utility tool to manage, track, and record business and personal information including meetings, e-mail communication, voice mail, RSS feed, anniversaries etc. Coming back to information architecture services, your requirements can also be outsourced. Many companies in India serve international clients with such services and also offer their services at a much cheaper rate. So as Garve Technologies has a dedicated team for the Information Architecture Design.

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Steps To A More Usable Ecommerce Website


The ecommerce marketplace is a very competitive one and a rival site is never more than a click away. If you want to attract and retain customers, you need to make sure that your site is as usable as possible.

You could be selling the best products in the world, at unbelievably low prices, but if shoppers can’t find them or get confused along the way, you’re never going to reach your full potential in terms of sales.

Improving usability is all about making the buying process on your site as quick and easy as possible.

Improving usability is all about making the buying process on your site as quick and easy as possible. The smallest of changes can have the most dramatic effect on conversion rates. The 10 steps explored below will all help to improve both sales and customer satisfaction. It’s not necessarily a case of employing all 10 of these steps on your site- some smaller merchants will find this nearly impossible. Pick the ones that you think will work best for you and don’t be afraid to try something new.

1. Let Shoppers Buy without Registering

Every company wants shoppers to register for an account, but the lengthy registration process is a real turnoff for many visitors, especially those who believe (rightly or wrongly) that what they want from you is a one-off purchase.

It’s a good idea to allow ‘guests’ to add items to their carts and checkout without the hassle of registration. Once they’ve committed to their purchase, they should be given the option to ‘Sign Up’ to save time on their next visit. This method has been shown to increase sales, improve customer retention and lower cart abandonment. Remember, in many cases, a sale is more valuable than an email address.

2. Keep the Signup Simple

How much information do you need from a customer when they sign up on your site? You might want as much as you can get, but in reality you need very little. Avoid lengthy signup forms which customers are likely to run a mile from as soon as they open. All you really require is an email address and a password.

Many sites ask for a username rather than an email address, but this can be a source of more confusion – usernames are easy to forget, email addresses are memorable; usernames are common, email addresses are unique.

3. Tell Users Where They Are

Breadcrumb navigation is a must for all major ecommerce sites. When placing an order, customers need to know exactly where they stand in the purchase process – how many steps they’ve completed and how many are yet to come. Without such navigation, customers easily get bored, think the process is going to go on forever and abandon their purchase halfway.

Using breadcrumb navigation, customers can easily skip back to a previous step if they think they’ve made a mistake, rather than giving up altogether. If breadcrumb navigation is beyond your capabilities, numbering each step – e.g. Enter delivery address (step 1 of 4) – is the next best thing.

4. Make Shoppers Feel Safe

Quite rightly, lots of people worry about giving out credit card numbers and personal details online. Shoppers need to feel completely confident when they buy from you. You need to reassure your customers at every stage that your site is safe and that you are a reputable merchant who will protect their privacy and not share their information.

A great way to do this is to get a trust certificate from somewhere like Hacker Safe or VeriSign. You should also ensure that you have an updated SSL certificate.

5. Confirmation

Confirmation is an absolute necessity if you want to make your site as usable as possible. Not only does it reassure shoppers, it saves you time by reducing the number of queries you get from confused customers.

Effective confirmation should be split up into three parts:

  1. The last step in the order process should ask the customer to confirm their order. They should be presented with all the necessary information- order summary, total cost, delivery and tracking information etc. as well as an easy way to cancel their order if they’ve made a mistake.
  2. Once the order has been confirmed, the customer should be presented with an official order confirmation complete with order number, which can either be saved or printed.
  3. A copy of this confirmation should be emailed to the customer for their records.

6. Search Function

Every ecommerce site needs a high visibility search box, preferably located in a clearly marked spot above the fold, which should allow customers to easily filter and refine their results to find what they want.

Search functionality reduces the time customers spend searching for items, making their shopping experience a happier one.

If your site offers a wide variety of products, you should strongly consider adding a search by category refinement, which not only quickens the search process, but reminds customers of the wide range of items you have for sale.

Letting shoppers search by colour, size etc (if applicable) is also a good idea. In addition, you might want to give your visitors the power to customise their search results, by letting them choose how many items are visible per page.

7. Specify Related Items

Nobody wants to feel pressured into buying more than they really want when they visit a website, but if used properly, specifying related items and cross-selling can prove very helpful for customers and very profitable for merchants.

If a shopper’s looking at a coat on a clothing site, for instance, they can be provided with suggestions for other items to complete the look. If they’re buying an electronic gadget, additional necessities like batteries and cables can be made easily available. Amazon’s method for suggesting related items has been shown to increase revenue and retention massively.

8. Call-to-Action Buttons

Never underestimate the power of the call-to-action button. Effective ‘add to cart’, ‘sign up’ and ‘proceed to checkout’ buttons can push your conversion rates through the roof and vastly improve your site’s usability.

To make these buttons stand out you need to think carefully about their size, colour, font, wording and positioning. They need to be large, clear and in a colour that will stand out against your site’s background. ‘Add to cart’ should be used instead of ‘buy now’, which can scare away some people. Local language should be taken into consideration when designing call-to-action buttons. For example, Americans are more accustomed to ‘add to cart’, while a British shopper would be more familiar with ‘add to basket’. If possible, use IP delivery to serve custom versions based on the customer’s geographic location.

9. Avoid Hidden Charges

If there’s one thing that angers customers more than anything else, it’s hidden costs. Make sure that you display prices, taxes, shipping charges (and money saved if applicable) as early in the purchase process as possible. People tend to shop on a budget and want to know their genuine totals before adding other items to their cart.

If they’re presented with a load of extra costs when they finally come to pay, they’re more than likely to abandon ship, trust will be broken and repeat orders lost.

10. Keep the Cart Accessible

The cart should be visible to a customer at all times, on every page. It should appear above the fold, at the top or on the right, so that customers need not navigate away to view their cart contents and the total order cost. To increase usability further, customers should be able to edit their cart, adding and removing items, at any stage, on any page, without having to update or refresh.

A ‘proceed to checkout’ button should be positioned inside the cart, making the order process that little bit quicker.

Planning your E-Commerce Website


Whether theming an e-commerce website or doing a full-scale build, one of the most important parts in the whole process is the planning. Planning a build before you start can sometimes seem like a bit of a tedious and time-consuming task, but not only will it make everything run a lot smoother, it will also save a lot of time.

You may be wondering where you even begin, and that’s what this article will help you answer.

What Do You Want Your Site To Do?

Let’s start at the beginning. Since we are talking about an e-commerce site, I’m guessing that the aim is to sell something. We need to figure out ways to make it more compelling to by that something.

Try to make it as easy as possible for the customer to buy your products. The well-known three-click rule applies here: You want your customer to get to what they are looking for in three or less clicks. Any more, and they may just give up. The user interface should be a primary subject to plan for.

Who’s Going to Buy From You?

Another important factor to take into account is your audience. This is something that you should consider researching properly; knowing who will want to buy your products is something that influences your design.

Do You Require Special Site Features?

Depending on what you are selling, you may need features that other e-commerce sites do not. For example, a clothing e-store may need a refined search so that the customer can filter a search by colour or brand. Alternatively, you may want to allow the customer to use coupon codes. You should plan what features and functions you think you need or want to add.

What Are Your Limitations?

Everyone has limitations — work out what yours are when you are building your site. Do you have a budget for the build, and if so, how will this limit what you can do? What technical limitations do you have? Is there any part of the build that you won’t be able to do by yourself? How does the technology limit your build?

You can do nearly anything with enough hard work, but remember that not everything will be possible.

Do You Have All the Tools You Need?

It depends on how much of the build you are doing, but you will probably need graphic editing software (i.e. Photoshop, Fireworks), a web development application (i.e. Dreamweaver), e-commerce and online store management software (i.e. Magento, OSCommerce, etc.) and the obvious things like a domain name and web hosting.

What E-Commerce Platform Are You Going to Use?

Since we are talking about e-commerce, we should take into consideration what’s going to power our website. There are countless of e-commerce platforms out there, and one of your tasks is to find one that fits your needs.

Depending on your knowledge and what your needs are, there are a various number of options that you would be able to use. If you think that you have quite a comprehensive knowledge on the subject, then maybe you should consider going for an open source cart or even building a platform yourself. If not, then there are also hosted carts to take into account.

Let’s have a look at a few platform options from different categories.

Magento

Magento is probably one of the most popular open source carts in the e-commerce platform market and, in my opinion, is probably the best free cart out there (there are also enterprise and professional versions with a yearly cost that will provide additional support).

Magento has some awesome features including analytics integration, capability of wish lists, multiple images for products, advanced product filter search, advanced customer service, tonnes of payment methods, marketing/promotional tools and so much more.

Recently, Magento has also released the world’s first mobile commerce platform. This could be very interesting, even more so now that smartphones with huge screens (such as the iPhone) are all the rage.

Shopify

Shopify is a very interesting hosted platform. Compared to something open source and self-hosted like Magento, it is extremely simple to set up, manage and update. You could have a site running within minutes if you wanted to.

But Shopify does have a slight lack of features (by intent — to keep things simple), its price is a monthly fee plus, on top of that, a commission for every sale, and a hosted platform means you have less control of your platform (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing for people who just want things to work).

Content Management Systems With E-Commerce Addons

Another alternative that has recently arisen is that of WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla! shopping cart plugins, giving these content management systems e-store capabilities. There are a few, including eShop, Shopp, and WordPress MiniCart. This is great if you want a quick add-on for you existing site, but not perfect if you want a fully manageable e-commerce site.

Custom E-Commerce Site

An alternative to all this would be to go the DIY route and build your own platform. Of course, this will need a fair bit of web development knowledge and also a lot of time. But putting in all that work could be worthwhile if you have highly customized needs. Plus, if you build it yourself, you’ll be guaranteed full ownership of everything, including your code base.

Firefox joins Chrome in plugin crash protection


Yesterday Mozilla released a new Firefox 3.6 point release including regular stability fixes and a plugin crash protection system that was originally planned for Firefox 3.7.

The crash protection isolates plugins in their own process, meaning that a plugin will not bring down the entire browser when it crashes or freezes. Mozilla states that one of three browser crashes are caused by third-party plugins.

Currently only Linux and Windows include the crash protection, Mac users will have to wait for Firefox 4 planned to be released later this year. This is a fantastic addition in a point release!

5 Ways to Use Google Wave for Business


Here are five examples of common workplace activities that Google Wave can support.


1. Conferences and Professional Development


wave-conference - garve technologies

This one probably seems obvious. Departments can set up Google Waves to discuss what’s happening at a particular event. A company with limited funds could send one person to a conference and use Google Wave as a reporting mechanism. Or if several people attend, they can divide/conquer the event and post their ideas and comments in one place.

For example Chris Hoyt, author of the blog The Recruiter Guy, set up a Wave for the human resources and recruiting community during last year’s Social Recruiting Summit. Both attendees and those of us who were interested but couldn’t make it in person were able to join the Wave. It was an opportunity to gain exposure to the content and learn more about the event so people could budget to attend the following year.

One thing I could see emerging from conference Waves are “back channel” discussions. Conference organizers in particular will want to pay particular attention to this and not necessarily view it as a bad thing. If managed properly, it could bring some opportunities for improvement to light during the event.


2. Decision Making and Problem Solving


Using Google Wave to discuss a company challenge could be very beneficial — especially when all of the players aren’t located in the same place. That’s exactly why Troy Peterson, CEO of Nibi Software, used Wave to get the company’s development plan finalized.  He brought everyone together in a Wave and let the conversation flow. “The real-time document functionality allowed us to have ‘arguments’ and solve problems together that might otherwise have resulted in ‘back and forth’ threads that went on forever.”

Peterson did mention that adoption was an initial challenge. “Although several of my contacts immediately had Wave accounts, they weren’t necessarily the people I was collaborating with on projects.  It required some arm wrestling to get people on board.” But the results were worth it. “In the end, we have a succinct document that we have all agreed on and that we can compare short-term objectives against.”


3. Project Management


The same decision making philosophy applies when you have a project and need to collaborate not only with internal stakeholders, but an external supplier. Google Wave provides an opportunity for collaboration. Hopefully, consultants and/or contractors are able to tap into that dialogue by sharing their Wave account info with client companies.

Rachel Levy, Founder/CEO of the startup website WebinarListings, is using Google Wave with her developer. “We have the list of open items in the Wave, so we can discuss each one. I add an open item, and he can ask me a question about it, or mark it as done.” The main advantage to using this application was being able to track conversations.

This could also be a valuable way to manage the dreaded “scope creep.” You can lay out the entire project in a single Wave once the parameters are agreed upon. Then, you can work through each facet with each side tracking progress and those pesky project deviations. And everything gets documented along the way. New project requirements can even be moved to a new Wave for later consideration.


4. Brainstorming and Idea Cultivation


Brendan Gill, with the firm Staircase3, said he and his partners use Google Wave as a medium to organize and facilitate conversations and feedback. “We are a team of entrepreneurs who like to have an idea and make it happen quickly. We use Google Wave to brainstorm our ideas for new business projects.  It’s a great tool for collecting a series of conversations, and we use a different Wave for each different idea.”

Gill explained they would have traditionally used group e-mails for this purpose, but found Wave has numerous advantages, including serving as a centralized repository, and the ability to use add-on features for enhanced productivity. This was especially useful since their management team is located around the globe. “The Ribbit conferencing feature is great for staging an ad hoc conference call. Furthermore, the simple voting widget is a useful way to end each of our Waves where we can stage a vote for a given idea — whether or not we want to put the idea in motion, or just cut it loose.”


5. Virtual Meetings and Reduced Travel


Let’s face it. Bringing groups of people together can be expensive. Depending on the project, Google Wave could help foster dialogue without a lot of travel, phone calls, etc. Gill mentioned using Wave to make edits and adjustments on business proposals without having people travel to a central location. “Using Wave definitely reduces the need for thousand-dollar transatlantic flights and many tons of carbon emissions. Obviously without Wave, we would still use e-mails and teleconferencing, but using a better communications platform has definitely cut a number of flights out of our schedule,” he said.

Gill added that, “Collaboration can be done in real-time, if required, which is useful if you’re trying to rush out a project that has to happen quickly or not at all. Or for longer-term projects, you can take your time to think about an idea and come back to the plan at any time you like.”


Conclusion


If you’re looking for a way to streamline communications on your next project, Peterson suggests that you “Sign up and use the tool. It may not revolutionize your company’s communications, but it is useful and worth the effort involved in figuring out how it works for your organization.”

Remember the success of a Wave is contingent upon the active participation of the individuals involved. Waves need engagement, attention and clarity. You can’t just ask a question and walk away for a couple days. According to Levy, “The bigger the Wave gets, the slower it gets.” Managing activity and open items becomes essential for productivity.

How are you using Google Wave to improve your work life? Share your stories in the comments.

Ecommerce accessibility 2010 – report released


webcredible.co.uk released the findings of this year’s ecommerce accessibility report and found that, unlike in usability, not much had changed when it comes to website accessibility among the top high street retailers.

Whereas the average score in usability has been increasing year-on-year, the average accessibility score actually went down slightly this year (although that may be partly because Woolworths was included again this year and only scored 38 per cent, but this time last year it wasn’t around to assess).

There were obvious exceptions to this lack of improvement however. B&Q was the outstanding mover and has clearly invested in its website since last year. It achieved a score of 84 per cent to top the table, up 16 per cent from last year. Other big improvements were seen with H.Samuel climbing from 8th place to 3rd, improving its score from 65 to 75, and Next which climbed from 18th to 11th with an improvement of 9% to 60.

In contrast, Marks & Spencer’s website, newly launched in October 2009, only managed to increase its accessibility score by 1 per cent to 59 per cent, even though it now leads the way in usability.

So, what’s the reason for the general lack of improvement in accessibility considering there’s continual investment in these ecommerce websites? Well this could be down to advances in web technologies making it more difficult for ecommerce sites to maintain levels of accessibility as they provide richer interactions.

It used to be the case that, if you did your usability and SEO work right, you’d be 80% there with accessibility due to the interlinked nature of the disciplines. However, AJAX and Web 2.0 present new challenges from an accessibility point of view and this is no longer the case.

However, some of these mistakes are so easy to rectify it’s amazing that so many sites fail every year. For example, the guideline that gets the lowest average every year is providing focus states for links to make them accessible for keyboard-only users. This can be done through one simple line of code, yet only B&Q, John Lewis, Argos and HMV do this to a reasonable level and the majority of sites don’t even attempt it.

View report

Read Article at source:

What is Web 2.0?


The term “Web 2.0” is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design and collaboration on the World Wide Web. A Web 2.0 site allows its users to interact with each other as contributors to the website’s content, in contrast to websites where users are limited to the passive viewing of information that is provided to them. Examples of Web 2.0 include web-based communities, hosted services, web applications, social-networking sites, video-sharing sites, wikis, blogs, mashups, and folksonomies.

The term is closely associated with Tim O’Reilly because of the O’Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004 Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but rather to cumulative changes in the ways software developers and end-users use the Web. Whether Web 2.0 is qualitatively different from prior web technologies has been challenged by World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, who called the term a “piece of jargon” — precisely because he specifically intended the Web to embody these values in the first place.

History: From Web 1.0 to 2.0

The term “Web 2.0” was coined in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci. In her article, “Fragmented Future,” DiNucci writes:

The Web we know now, which loads into a browser window in essentially static screenfulls, is only an embryo of the Web to come. The first glimmerings of Web 2.0 are beginning to appear, and we are just starting to see how that embryo might develop. The Web will be understood not as screenfulls of text and graphics but as a transport mechanism, the ether through which interactivity happens. It will  appear on your computer screen, on your TV set your car dashboard  your cell phone  hand-held game machines maybe even your microwave oven.

Her use of the term deals mainly with Web design and aesthetics; she argues that the Web is “fragmenting” due to the widespread use of portable Web-ready devices. Her article is aimed at designers, reminding them to code for an ever-increasing variety of hardware. As such, her use of the term hints at – but does not directly relate to – the current uses of the term.

The term did not resurface until 2003. These authors focus on the concepts currently associated with the term where, as Scott Dietzen puts it, “the Web becomes a universal, standards-based integration platform”.

In 2004, the term began its rise in popularity when O’Reilly Media and MediaLive hosted the first Web 2.0 conference. In their opening remarks, John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly outlined their definition of the “Web as Platform”, where software applications are built upon the Web as opposed to upon the desktop. The unique aspect of this migration, they argued, is that “customers are building your business for you”. They argued that the activities of users generating content (in the form of ideas, text, videos, or pictures) could be “harnessed” to create value.

O’Reilly et al. contrasted Web 2.0 with what they called “Web 1.0”. They associated Web 1.0 with the business models of Netscape and the Encyclopedia Britannica Online. For example,

Netscape framed “the web as platform” in terms of the old software paradigm: their flagship product was the web browser, a desktop application, and their strategy was to use their dominance in the browser market to establish a market for high-priced server products. Control over standards for displaying content and applications in the browser would, in theory, give Netscape the kind of market power enjoyed by Microsoft in the PC market. Much like the “horseless carriage” framed the automobile as an extension of the familiar, Netscape promoted a “webtop” to replace the desktop, and planned to populate that webtop with information updates and applets pushed to the webtop by information providers who would purchase Netscape servers.

In short, Netscape focused on creating software, updating it on occasion, and distributing it to the end users. O’Reilly contrasted this with Google, a company which did not at the time focus on producing software, such as a browser, but instead focused on providing a service based on data. The data being the links Web page authors make between sites. Google exploits this user-generated content to offer Web search based on reputation through its “page rank” algorithm. Unlike software, which undergoes scheduled releases, such services are constantly updated, a process called “the perpetual beta”.

A similar difference can be seen between the Encyclopedia Britannica Online and Wikipedia: while the Britannica relies upon experts to create articles and releases them periodically in publications, Wikipedia relies on trust in anonymous users to constantly and quickly build content. Wikipedia is not based on expertise but rather an adaptation of the open source software adage “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow”, and it produces and updates articles constantly.

O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 conferences have been held every year since 2004, attracting entrepreneurs, large companies, and technology reporters. In terms of the lay public, the term Web 2.0 was largely championed by bloggers and by technology journalists, culminating in the 2006 TIME magazine Person of The Year – “You”. That is, TIME selected the masses of users who were participating in content creation on social networks, blogs, wikis, and media sharing sites. The cover story author Lev Grossman explains:

It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.

Since that time, Web 2.0 has found a place in the lexicon; in 2009 Global Language Monitor declared it to be the one-millionth English word.

Characteristics

Flickr, a Web 2.0 web site that allows its users to upload and share photos

Web 2.0 websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information. They can build on the interactive facilities of “Web 1.0” to provide “Network as platform” computing, allowing users to run software-applications entirely through a browser. Users can own the data on a Web 2.0 site and exercise control over that data. These sites may have an “Architecture of participation” that encourages users to add value to the application as they use it.

The concept of Web-as-participation-platform captures many of these characteristics. Bart Decrem, a founder and former CEO of Flock, calls Web 2.0 the “participatory Web” and regards the Web-as-information-source as Web 1.0.

The impossibility of excluding group-members who don’t contribute to the provision of goods from sharing profits gives rise to the possibility that rational members will prefer to withhold their contribution of effort and free-ride on the contribution of others. This requires what is sometimes called Radical Trust by the management of the website. According to Best, the characteristics of Web 2.0 are: rich user experience, user participation, dynamic content, metadata, web standards and scalability. Further characteristics, such as openness, freedom and collective intelligence by way of user participation, can also be viewed as essential attributes of Web 2.0.

Technology overview

Web 2.0 draws together the capabilities of client- and server-side software, content syndication and the use of network protocols. Standards-oriented web browsers may use plug-ins and software extensions to handle the content and the user interactions. Web 2.0 sites provide users with information storage, creation, and dissemination capabilities that were not possible in the environment now known as “Web 1.0”.

Web 2.0 websites typically include some of the following features and techniques. Andrew McAfee used the acronym SLATES to refer to them:

Search

Finding information through keyword search.

Links

Connects information together into a meaningful information ecosystem using the model of the Web, and provides low-barrier social tools.

Authoring

The ability to create and update content leads to the collaborative work of many rather than just a few web authors. In wikis, users may extend, undo and redo each other’s work. In blogs, posts and the comments of individuals build up over time.

Tags

Categorization of content by users adding “tags” – short, usually one-word descriptions – to facilitate searching, without dependence on pre-made categories. Collections of tags created by many users within a single system may be referred to as “folksonomies” (i.e., folk taxonomies).

Extensions

Software that makes the Web an application platform as well as a document server.

Signals

The use of syndication technology such as RSS to notify users of content changes.

While SLATES forms the basic framework of Enterprise 2.0, it does not contradict all of the higher level Web 2.0 design patterns and business models. And in this way, the new Web 2.0 report from O’Reilly is quite effective and diligent in interweaving the story of Web 2.0 with the specific aspects of Enterprise 2.0. It includes discussions of self-service IT, the long tail of enterprise IT demand, and many other consequences of the Web 2.0 era in the enterprise. The report also makes many sensible recommendations around starting small with pilot projects and measuring results, among a fairly long list.

How it works

The client-side/web browser technologies typically used in Web 2.0 development are Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (Ajax), Adobe Flash and the Adobe Flex framework, and JavaScript/Ajax frameworks such as Yahoo! UI Library, Dojo Toolkit, MooTools, and jQuery. Ajax programming uses JavaScript to upload and download new data from the web server without undergoing a full page reload.

To permit the user to continue to interact with the page, communications such as data requests going to the server are separated from data coming back to the page (asynchronously). Otherwise, the user would have to routinely wait for the data to come back before they can do anything else on that page, just as a user has to wait for a page to complete the reload. This also increases overall performance of the site, as the sending of requests can complete quicker independent of blocking and queueing required to send data back to the client.

The data fetched by an Ajax request is typically formatted in XML or JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) format, two widely used structured data formats. Since both of these formats are natively understood by JavaScript, a programmer can easily use them to transmit structured data in their web application. When this data is received via Ajax, the JavaScript program then uses the Document Object Model (DOM) to dynamically update the web page based on the new data, allowing for a rapid and interactive user experience. In short, using these techniques, Web designers can make their pages function like desktop applications. For example, Google Docs uses this technique to create a Web-based word processor.

Adobe Flex is another technology often used in Web 2.0 applications. Compared to JavaScript libraries like jQuery, Flex makes it easier for programmers to populate large data grids, charts, and other heavy user interactions. Applications programmed in Flex, are compiled and displayed as Flash within the browser. As a widely available plugin independent of W3C (World Wide Web Consortium, the governing body of web standards and protocols), standards, Flash is capable of doing many things which are not currently possible in HTML, the language used to construct web pages. Of Flash’s many capabilities, the most commonly used in Web 2.0 is its ability to play audio and video files. This has allowed for the creation of Web 2.0 sites where video media is seamlessly integrated with standard HTML.

In addition to Flash and Ajax, JavaScript/Ajax frameworks have recently become a very popular means of creating Web 2.0 sites. At their core, these frameworks do not use technology any different from JavaScript, Ajax, and the DOM. What frameworks do is smooth over inconsistencies between web browsers and extend the functionality available to developers. Many of them also come with customizable, prefabricated ‘widgets’ that accomplish such common tasks as picking a date from a calendar, displaying a data chart, or making a tabbed panel.

On the server side, Web 2.0 uses many of the same technologies as Web 1.0. Languages such as PHP, Ruby, ColdFusion, Perl, Python, JSP and ASP are used by developers to dynamically output data using information from files and databases. What has begun to change in Web 2.0 is the way this data is formatted. In the early days of the Internet, there was little need for different websites to communicate with each other and share data. In the new “participatory web”, however, sharing data between sites has become an essential capability. To share its data with other sites, a web site must be able to generate output in machine-readable formats such as XML, RSS, and JSON. When a site’s data is available in one of these formats, another website can use it to integrate a portion of that site’s functionality into itself, linking the two together. When this design pattern is implemented, it ultimately leads to data that is both easier to find and more thoroughly categorized, a hallmark of the philosophy behind the Web 2.0 movement.

Usage

The popularity of the term Web 2.0, along with the increasing use of blogs, wikis, and social networking technologies, has led many in academia and business to coin a flurry of 2.0s, including Library 2.0, Social Work 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, PR 2.0, Classroom 2.0, Publishing 2.0, Medicine 2.0, Telco 2.0, Travel 2.0, Government 2.0, and even Porn 2.0. Many of these 2.0s refer to Web 2.0 technologies as the source of the new version in their respective disciplines and areas. For example, in the Talis white paper “Library 2.0: The Challenge of Disruptive Innovation”, Paul Miller argues

Blogs, wikis and RSS are often held up as exemplary manifestations of Web 2.0. A reader of a blog or a wiki is provided with tools to add a comment or even, in the case of the wiki, to edit the content. This is what we call the Read/Write web.Talis believes that Library 2.0 means harnessing this type of participation so that libraries can benefit from increasingly rich collaborative cataloguing efforts, such as including contributions from partner libraries as well as adding rich enhancements, such as book jackets or movie files, to records from publishers and others.

Here, Miller links Web 2.0 technologies and the culture of participation that they engender to the field of library science, supporting his claim that there is now a “Library 2.0”. Many of the other proponents of new 2.0s mentioned here use similar methods.

Source: wikipedia