Web 2.0 – I’m so cool I’ve subscribed to myself
There is a tendency for web designers and developers to jump on bandwagons. Whether the bandwagon is technical, graphical or behavioural, we can be a pretty conformist lot.
Well, now there is a new bandwagon that incorporates all of those different aspects, and people are calling it Web 2.0. Of course, I’ve fallen into the same trap and used many of the classic Web 2.0 elements, so this page is a bit of gentle ribbing of myself for following the Web 2.0 crowd.
Web 2.0 is the name given to the current generation of web applications. These have a collection of common themes including user-control of data, open data architecture, clean interfaces, advanced GUIs and adherence to web standards. Some people like the terms, some people hate it. I quite like it as it shows there has been a progression in what the web is, but it’s still built on the same foundation as the old web. However it’s just another buzzword that can easily lose it’s meaning.
The AJAX strikes back
The recent buzz surrounding web applications such as Google Maps is all to do with a quite old (in web terms) technology that has earned the nickname AJAX. In a nutshell it means that web pages can now be updated in increments when the data changes, one little bit at a time, rather than having to be entirely reloaded to see changes. projectGenie uses this technique extensively partly to make the user interface more responsive. But mainly to prove that I’m really cool.
Maybe it was a backlash against all the so-called ‘cool’ sites with their teeny-tiny text. Whatever the reason, big text is big at the moment. Just look at the size of the title at the top of this page. If it were any bigger you would need an extension to your screen.
A universe of icons
Oh, we love those cool icons. Web 2.0 applications like icons in the same way that mice like cheese – they’ll do almost anything to get as much of it as possible. So, the more icons the better. In fact, I think it will be possible to rewrite projectGenie so that there isn’t any text on any of the screens whatsoever – just hundreds of cool icons.
OK, I admit it, projectGenie doesn’t use tagging. Yet. Tags (or, to use the posh word, folksonomy) is a way for peope to attach keywords to data. Rather thn the more restrictive method of putting everything in categories, tagging allows as many words or phrases as you like to be attached to anything. So, for example, this web page could have the tags "projectGenie, web 2.0, ‘lost the plot’" and any number of other tags associated with it. A search for any of those tags could find this page. While it’s a good idea it’s led to a bit of cliquism amongst web dudes: "I heard that Chris has a new piece of software out, looks really good" "Yeah, but he doesn’t have tagging." "No? Sheesh…"
Don’t fade away
Fade boxes, boxes that fade. Oh those lovely gradiated fills, we love them so much we want to marry them and hve lots of lovely fading babies. So subtle, yet so distinctive, they just reek of Web 2.0.
White space (althogh it doesn’t have to be white) is nother mainstay of Web 2.0 band-wagondom. Leaving lots of space around text and images gives the pge space to ‘breathe’, and stops the users eyes from becoming overloaded. It creates a calming and serene atmosphere. And apparently if you line up all your website elephants to face the exit button you’ll have a long and prosperous life.
You up for a game?
As a really cool Web 2.0 organisation, we like to have fun. So we play hockey in the car park at lunchtime. Too bad you don’t like hockey, don’t have a hockey stick and the car park is on a 20% incline, we’re going to play, dammit. That’s what you get round here at Web 2.0 Inc., a fun atmosphere. Ask me nicely and I’ll let you ride my scooter around the office.
Beta ’till we die!
It seems there are loads of places with ‘beta’ badges on their websites. Most of the time they aren’t needed, it’s just a way to head off any complaints that things aren’t quite finished yet. It also makes people think they are participating in something new, exciting and cool. There’s that word again: ‘cool’. Betas are cool, alphas are supercool and burgas are tasty.
Insert cash here
Let’s face it, there are very few geeks who are good at business. The exceptions are notable, but thin on the ground. So with the absence of a decent business plan for your Web 2.0 web application, what do you do? Why, flip the flip, of course! Flipping is selling a small company to a big company, in much the same way that Google and Yahoo have bought several Web 2.0 darlings, making some people along the way very, very rich. It’s hardly a future to rely on, though, is it?