From wikis to blogs and beyond, here are 10 tips culled from the experts to help you get started building a more dynamic Web site and jumping into Web 2.0.
Build widgets and components
Writing to Web 2.0 means not building big applications but starting with smaller projects that can be easily done. Services such as Pageflakes.com or Apatar.com offer various means of connecting different data sources and Web programming interfaces to quickly assemble lightweight applications that can be run inside a Web browser. "You have to starting thinking in the spirit of being an iterative process and not treat your development as one big bundle or a single project," says Raarup.
Matsuoka suggests that IT developers spend time building widgets that support emerging standards and can be integrated into workspaces attractive to users, such as Apple's Dashboard or Windows Vista's Sidebar, or the public portals such as Yahoo and Google. "Use the public frameworks and APIs and build on top of that. If you don't support how your users work, they'll just find ways to go around you."
You also should think about reusable components. "Some things you don't have to spend lots of time reinventing, like how someone logs into an application or a database," says O'Berry. "Take what you can in the code and commoditize it -- that gives you the chance to add operational efficiency and cut the costs for future development." O'Berry makes a distinction between these operational efficiencies and making something easy for IT by talking about multifunction printers. Last year he bought 500 desktop printers to make things easier for his users. "I don't want people standing in line to print, scan, or copy something. While it may be easier for the IT organization to have centralized, larger-scale copier/printers, it doesn't make sense for my business. Operational efficiency for IT doesn't always translate into operational efficiency for the business."
Install interactive Q&A products
One way to get more traffic and attention to your site and build community is to make use of products that can keep track of questions and answers by visitors. Products such as RightNow Technologies or Wondir.com do a great job of answering your customers' questions, improving customer loyalty, and increasing your company's branding. RightNow is available as a hosted service, while you can add Wondir's service to your site with a few simple lines of code and join its affiliate program to actually make money using its service.
Exploit social networks
Social networking sites such as LinkedIn.com, MySpace.com, and Flickr.com have been mostly populated by individual consumers. Businesses, for the most part, have steered clear of them. But a better strategy is to exploit the reputation management that these sites can offer and make use of the viral nature to build brand awareness and track competitors.
Companies can use these sites when they're recruiting new hires, for example. But less obvious would be to use blogs and social networking sites to talk up new products and to research what the competition is saying about them online.
"Enterprises are looking to solve problems that start out serving an individual need and then grow and spread virally," says Chuck Neath, general partner at Adams Capital Management. "This new breed of applications require little setup and configuration, deliver immediate value, use social networks, and have minimal impact, if any, on the overall IT organization." BuzzLogic's approach of attaching value to content and participants in social networks is one example, he says. Its on-demand software lets companies manage their brands, products, competitors, and customers within the social media market by measuring influence and identifying key influencers.
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