Web 2.0: Ingredients For A Site Makeover - InformationWeek

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11/28/2006
12:32 PM
David Strom
David Strom
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Web 2.0: Ingredients For A Site Makeover

Putting up a few links and images doesn't cut it anymore. To bring your site into the Web 2.0 world, you need to know about Ajax, ActiveX, RSS, and other key technologies.



Web 2.0 Makeover


•  Long Tail

•  Ajax Deployment

•  Active X

•  Project Management

Microsoft's Active X

Also of importance is ActiveX, the mainstay of many Web applications from the last decade. Many sites were sold on the coming Microsoft world domination and the growth in IE market as the sole browser for the world. Clearly, that hasn't happened, and it may be time to rip this out and become more pluralistic in your support of other browsers. Focazio said: "In many ways, we have to go Ajax, just to reach our corporate customers, because we're seeing flat-out bans on ActiveX, a pretty substantial move away from IE, and an increasing number of Mac systems." Look for one of the newer and more open solutions for presenting dynamic content, if you plan on offering additional enhancements in those places.

"Unfortunately, in the current iteration of our product, the standard was IE 5.0 and ActiveX controls," said Focazio. "This has been a big, big problem, and we're addressing it with a total rebuild. It was a big mistake."

Other Tools And Techniques If you don't have the in-house staff and skills to deal with all this technology alphabet soup, pick your battles carefully. If you have to finger one critical component in Ajax, then start with CSS or RSS. "Learning to write HTML in more of a CSS style approach rather than straight tables will help out in the long run. Tables send more data to the client, offer less style and control when you want to place elements at different locations on your page (with Ajax), and separate the data from the structural layout," said Good. RSS also is useful in keeping people current with a fast-changing site, such as for discussion threads, tracking price changes, and other quick-moving situations.

The new-style Web site isn't just about fancy dancing icons, either. Spend some time thinking about what kinds of data you intend to have, and where it will reside.

"A bigger challenge is integrating data from different sources: security data, business data, etc.," Matsuoka said. "Most small businesses don't have access to great ways to effectively publish their business data." And some larger corporations will have problems, too, particularly integrating different data sources into a coherent single place.

Web developers have found several simple ways to spice up content and make their sites more dynamic, said Kramer: "Use polls, surveys, RSS feeds, and tag rolls. Those can be easily added using free services and will keep your site fresh, with true value being provided to customers and partners."

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