Guide For Newbies

A couple of years back Bill Gates introduce the idea of Convergence to the public. It was a fresh idea that later became a catchphrase for the Internet Industry. However, that promised marriage between the TV and the PC/Internet did not fully come into being.

As a result Microsoft lost millions in their MSN TV initiative. But that is all in the past. Today, the tide had finally turned. Although most people are still not quite use to the idea of surfing the Internet on their TV screens, they seem to be ready for their PC screens to be turned into televisions.

Sure, technically you could watch TV shows on any computer with a built in TV/Tuner card. But what is now driving the rapid acceptance of the TV and computer coming together is what they call Web 2.0 or the second version of the World Wide Web.

The term Web 2.0 is somewhat of a misnomer. Since The web and the Internet as a whole, is not released in such stages like in softwares. Rather, it evolves erratically as time pass on. The Internet is full of trends in technology. What is popular today may die out the next day. Or in some cases, it might evolve into something better.

So in reality Web 2.0 is not really an upgrade. Instead it refers to the current state of trends in the web. So if someone wants a Web 2.0 website, they may be referring to a website that has a popular style of design, a social component, or uses a specific technology or some combination of those three.

Take a look at how to design a site that uses Web 2.0 design conventions. First stop the page background. The background of a page is generally either very light (more common) or very dark (less common). This simply follows a good trend of making text on a page contrast highly with the background for easier reading.

A background may have stripes or something similar, but the most common aspect is a slope at the top, fading down to some other color that continues throughout the background of the rest of the page.

When it comes to logos, they tend to be very simple. Usually they contain nothing more than the name of the site. Words may be spaced closely together, along with alternating colors different words. There are only two or maybe three bright colors in the logo. The most commonly used combination is orange and blue, although green and red are not too far behind. There’s usually a small reflection of the logo right below it.

Next stop is the page elements. Web 2.0 design normally displays rounded corners. If the background does not have a gradient at the top, some round-cornered area of the site will. This are set in bright colors. If there are only two or three colors in the logo, those colors are all that is used in the other elements of the page. Simple and clean, that Web 2.0’s trademark!

As for the social aspect of the websites, this might come as a surprise but there’s nothing has truly changed here. Once again its guest books, discussion forums and so on. The only difference is that instead of giving general feedback on the site as a whole, your site visitors can now comment on specific articles and updates. Another cool change is that your visitors can now rank individual pictures instead of just telling how much they like them.

The advances in technology make it possible for such feedback to often result in instant changes in the site. But that does not mean this was not possible before. It only meant that the current technology makes it easier to isolate and extract those people who are spamming with comments or artificially trying to raise the rank of some item. Simply put, Web 2.0 provides option for social interaction and that can go a long way towards giving visitors a sense of involvement in the site.

As for the technology associated with Web 2.0 sites it is Ajax, which stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. Here is another way to look at it. Before, you would load a web page up in your browser, possibly even fill out a form, then click on a submit button. At that point, that page would disappear, and a new page would load with information based on what you had filled out and/or clicked on the previous page.

With Ajax, Javascript is used to update the page you are on without the need to load up a new page. Let’s say you are on a forum board and found at the bottom of a series of messages is the reply field. You put in your reply and hit the submit button. Instead of loading up a new page with your reply on it, your reply is immediately added to the bottom of the list.

Ajax can make a website run much more spontaneously, if used properly that is. However, like everything else on the web it can be abused. So think twice before doing anything else. Also, make sure that everyone can access your website equally. You will need to include non-Ajax options for using your site as well; otherwise the traditional pages will reload.

Although most web-surfers will have no problem using Ajax, still consider that your target audience may not be a typical cross-section of web surfers. Your audience may be primarily older people that don’t update their computers as often. Or maybe your audience is full of people that are likely to turn Javascript off. Just make sure you carefully evaluate whether using Ajax is worth it for your site.

So what else could we expect for the web in the distant future? A possible Web 3.0? Well, only time can tell. What’s important is that you keep a close eye on the current online trends, remember these changes daily. Since a lot of users will judge your business based at least partially on how current your website appears. So give it some thought…