Web consultancies have become complacent with what they know and what they do, and it will take them some time to adapt to the new things. Some will not make the transition in time, and there is an opportunity for newcomers to fill the space. But what is it that is changing, and how is the consulting business impacted?
- The way people search and find information is changing. Bloggers use services such as Technorati or Del.iciou.us to create networks of mutually linked sites and elevate the importance of traditional web sites by linking to them. Technorati.com, for instance, is indexing already over 20 Million blogs and displays a daily list of the most popular news releases, movies, and books, based on appearences in new blog posts. Folksonomies such as Flickr and Del.icio.us are becoming pervasive because they are being linked with other services to form mashups. The author calls Del.icio.us a social bookmark manager. In case you have not read about it, Yahoo! acquired both Flickr and Del.icio.us last December. Some people seem to believe in the reality of these changes.
No longer does Google control the ranking of content on the Web – the people do. This is very exciting, but it also going on largely unnoticed by your favorite web consultant (or Search Engine Optimizer, for that matter). New strategies need to be developed for how content has to be be placed and referenced on the web so that your site gets the needed hits. Check out the washingtonpost.com for an effective integration with Technorati. Check out this interesting page on programmableweb.com for an inventory of available mashups.
- Interaction with the web is no longer a sequence of page views. Ajax has opened the user experience portfolio to techniques that were previously unheard of. Things are popping up, moving around, appearing dynamically. Users click and drag and drop, all without new page loads. Clients and consultants alike are used to look at site maps, page comps, wireframe diagrams or schematics, and use HTML mock-ups or Powerpoint slide shows to create clickable page demos. This will not work much longer. Demos that provide the full rich user experience will require serious programming and, since many Ajax frameworks are server-based, will require serious server programming. Consultancies can no longer hire HTML coders to produce credible demos, and the hand-off of static HTML code to the engineering group may not be such an important milestone in a development project anymore, because less and less of the overall user experience will be defined by the HTML as more and more functionality is delivered through script code.
It does not take much to become part of the Web 2.0 craze – embrace the chance. [to be continued]