Web 2.0 websites are the Internet’s second generation of websites. They enable visitors to contribute, collaborate, and interact, while visitors to Web 1.0 websites, the Internet’s first generation of websites, can only read content. In the past 10 years or so, the number of Web 2.0 websites has increased dramatically. At the same time, the way in which people communicate using the Internet has been revolutionized.
Differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 Websites
Web 1.0 websites are generally static and do not invite visitors to add comments, videos or other kinds of contributions on individual pages. They may, however, have one page, such as a Guest Book, where comments on the whole website may be left. Web 1.0 websites can only be updated by people with specialist web design and development skills.
Web 2.0 websites are being constantly updated. They allow visitors to upload photographs, reviews, and other content to individual pages of the website. Visitors to Web 2.0 websites do not need any technical skills in order to be able to add content. They can contribute to Web 2.0 websites just by using a web browser.
Technological Differences between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 Websites
Although the advent of Web 2.0 was not accompanied by dramatic changes in technology, there are some differences in the technologies on which Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 websites are based.
Web 1.0 websites are based on static HTML pages while Web 2.0 websites are based on dynamic HTML. Dynamic HTML builds website pages instantly while static HTML only allows pages to be changed by the site’s developer.
History of Web 2.0 Websites
The term “Web 2.0” was first used by O’Reilly Media and MediaLive International at a conference in 2004.
However, websites with Web 2.0 characteristics had appeared before 2004. A forerunner of the Web 2.0 website was the discussion board which enabled many users to contribute their ideas and opinions to a website without having to use technical skills to update the website.
Amazon was one of the earliest adopters of interactive websites. Users of its website have been able to post reviews of books and other products since its launch in 1995.
Social Web 2.0 Websites
Social networking websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are among the most popular Web 2.0 websites. Twitter is in fact a micro-blogging site which allows users to post short updates or “tweets” consisting of up to 140 characters. Twitter fits in well with the fast pace of modern life and makes it easy for people to quickly update their status from their smartphones.
Other social Web 2.0 websites include blogging platforms, such as WordPress and Tumblr. Users of blogging platforms can publish more in-depth blog posts and other users can comment on each post.
Information-Sharing Web 2.0 Websites
Derived from the Hawaiian word for fast or quick, wikis are informative Web 2.0 websites that are written by many collaborators working together. Although the most well-known example of a wiki is the online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, numerous other wikis exist, many of them dealing with specialist subjects. For example, TaxAlmanac is a wiki that contains a wide range of tax-related information.
Other Web 2.0 websites allow users to share information in visual form. These include video sharing websites, such as YouTube, and photo sharing websites, such as Flickr and Photobucket.
Social Bookmarking Web 2.0 Websites
Social bookmarking sites, such as Pinterest and Delicious, allow users to collect and share Internet links that they find useful or interesting. Instead of saving a link as a bookmark on their own computer, users can save links on the website and share them with other users. Content on social bookmarking sites is often ranked in terms of popularity or other factors.
Other Web 2.0 Websites
Many other Web 2.0 websites exist, including:
- Websites advertising or selling items, such as Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon.
- Online communities, such as Wikia.
- Online gaming communities, such as World of Warcraft.
The Use of Web 2.0 as a Marketing Tool
Web 2.0 has revolutionized the way in which businesses and their customers communicate. Two-way communication and real-time interaction are now possible. At a basic level, an increasing number of businesses are using Web 2.0 websites as marketing tools, announcing new product launches, offering discounts and coupons, and inviting feedback from customers.
Some companies have gone further, asking website visitors for their ideas for new products and then asking them to vote for the designs that they prefer. The most popular products are then produced and sold, creating a win-win situation for both the companies and consumers.
Viral marketing is a powerful way of marketing products and services using Web 2.0 websites. Instead of advertising, companies create a buzz which is then communicated online from person to person, reaching thousands or perhaps millions of Internet users worldwide. Advertising is no longer needed for companies that succeed with viral marketing.
The Future of Web 2.0
Web 2.0 will continue to develop. As the ownership of smartphones continues to increase, it is very likely that the ability to contribute to a Web 2.0 website using a smartphone will be made quicker and easier.
At some point in the future, Web 3.0 or “the semantic Web” will emerge, according to Conrad Wolfram, a computer scientist. Web 3.0 will be characterized by computers generating information by themselves and by a greater number of Internet-connected devices exchanging information. The forerunners of Web 3.0 are websites that suggest books, music or other items that a user might like based on his or her previous selections.
Web 2.0 websites encourage communication on a global scale. They enable people from different cultures and backgrounds to communicate and share information, even if they have never met in person and will never meet. Web 2.0 websites also allow people to stay in close contact with friends and family members, even if they do not live nearby. Web 2.0 websites will continue to evolve as the Internet develops further, growing into a place where the third generation of websites will appear.
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