Web 2.0 and User Experience

There’s been a lot of interesting discussion over the last year regarding the much vaunted “Web 2.0” that’s being bandied about by marketing enthusiasts and internet officionados. What’s interesting about it though, is the widespread contention about it’s validity. Some purport that it’s no more than marketing buzz and false hype designed by marketing schmucks, others say it’s accurate in the spirit and qualitative undertones. Regardless of the semantics, I can’t help but feeling that industry watchdogs are right – there is a tangible difference in today’s web.

Many people are posting that one of the underlying, fundamental differences is in the way information is being created, shared, distributed and connected. I’m not one of those people. There’s a constant flux in the connections that make up the web – that’s the nature of it. Some of these connections are mundane hyperlinks, others are more dynamic feeds and web services, either way it’s the nature of the web to have content created, connected, altered and manipulated in an ever-changing form.

Think of the dynamic of usenet groups – essentially all user-created, a shared morass of information that seem now to be an eeirie foreshadowing of the dynamic feel of today’s blogosphere. Then think of the shift to corporate, business-driven and hobby websites, then discussion forums, then search-engine driven content, and news syndication and now blogs. This flux is something we’ve become accustomed to.

What’s truly changing though, is the richness of the user experience. With current technologies it’s become more and more true that users have control over where and when they access content and how that content is structured. Technologies like Ajax are moving experiences traditionally reserved for desktop applications into a more web-friendly environment. Technologies like moblogging and computers on a stick are moving the computing experience to a more portable environment?- it’s interesting, exciting and a little bit frightening. It’s with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation that I see augmented reality becoming more and more plausible. That’s what makes Web 2.0 different – the fact that it’s truly becoming a pervasive interet that people can experience from more ways than just reading published articles and comments.

So kudos to those people focusing on UI and experience-driven design. I think you have the right idea and are going to make waves.

Joseph

VP HCM Products at NetSuite and Founder of TribeHR and Lewis Media. Waterloo Region Enthusiast and active volunteer.

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