I was asked to review a Web site recently for a friend. He had written the copy for it himselfÂ and hired a graphic designer to follow a crude sketch he’d drawn. It wasn’t good. To be fair, it wasn’t awful either. It was just aspiring to mediocrity.
The Web is still evolving and changing at a rapid rate. I liken it to what television went through during the 1950s and 1960s. There was a time, after all, that people thought Milton Berle and Lucy Arnez were actually funny. Production values were poor, the writing was worse and the medium was not used to its fullest potential. With all the Big Brothers and Temptation Islands we have to endure today, one has to wonder if television will ever get there. At least we still have Frontline,Â Extras and Rome… but I digress.
As they did withÂ television 50 years ago, people are only just beginning to understand just how powerful the Web can be. The first comment (among many) I gave to my friend was that his site looked like it may have been created in (gasp)Â 2001. It wasÂ an online brochure; static in nearly every way.Â There was noÂ room to expand it, to add new information, to stay fresh. There was noÂ interactivityÂ planned with his customers and no method toÂ ensureÂ they could get new information about his products.Â I told him that if he went with it as it was, it would be posted and forgotten; left to shrivel up, unseen, on the 33rd page of a Google search.
And he’d wonder why his site wasn’t drawing any feedback or getting any orders for his products. Many people in his position would blame the medium. They may say, “my Web site was a waste of money.” In his case, I’d agree because he was only posting when he should have been publishing.
The Web has become the first place people look for information on just about everything – from financial services to real estate and new computers to public relations agencies. Search engines are the tools they use to find that information and, like consumers, they search enginesÂ crave new, fresh content on the Web.
Whether you’re building your Web site in Winnipeg or Toronto or New York or Paris, the rules are the same. If you consider yourself a publisher, you’ll be that much further ahead of your competitors.