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Now that 2007 is well under-way, the shape of the web this year mainly involves:


You’re right, this is nothing new at all and yet years after this issue began clawing at web designers to acknowledge it’s existence, the vast majority of sites large and small still fail the most basic of tests. While developers and commentators talk about this issue as if it were just another buzzword, the sites most are producing just don’t implement it.

Web 2.0

If I hear this phrase again, I’ll melt something just by looking at it. Web 2.0 – what is that? Why is it different? In many ways it’s recognising that most new sites use social elements to them, inherent in their design and that using technologies such as AJAX, enables a more application like feel to interacting with sites.

I’m sorry, have I missed something? Since the first day I used the web there have been message boards and ways of rating and review things. I understand that through social working, no matter now poorly implemented is also meant to be one of the ‘next big things’ from last year but the end result is not anything major or different.

User Generated Content

The wallets are opening again – it’s almost like it’s 1999 all over again. Anything that uses the words ‘web 2.0′, ‘social’ & ‘user generated content’ is getting bought up and ads through at it. YouTube is a great way to share videos but given that there are copyright issues over any existing material, it’s model will have to change. It has to grow to be more than just a place to share videos, after all this popularity could be down to the fact that many people now have broadband and it’s on of the few sites thast works better on a broadband connection.

Where can YouTube go? It appears that Google is now talking with TV networks and the like to work this out. With Google’s muscle behind it, YouTube could be a Internet TV channel, which carries many networks back catalogue, has post-broadcast catch-ups and could even run in tandem with with live broadcasts. This, in my eyes suggest that there could be a divide between user generated and broadcast content or some kind of hybrid in the future…

But. User generated content in itself is often only worth looking at for the novelty value. Maybe it’s funny or stupid-or maybe it is actually useful or interesteing but most is not. These sites are just places to post adverts.

Social Networking

OK, so this was really last years’ baby but it’s morphing all the time. If MySpace is the poster boy, then he now has shoddy clothes patched up with gig-flyers and a massive sticker showing crappy ads on his forehead with extra limbs made from different materials sewn on, frankenstein style. I use MySpace but it is crap. Held together by a piece of string and grafting on ‘additional services’ all the time (all of which are not innovative or interesting). The mix between Coldfusion and ASP.net code they use and the poor state of the sites’ mark-up gives it a poor platform to progress from. The only thing I can see is that the whole thing will one day move to ASP.net and slowly balance itself out. Sure, it didn’t expect to grow so fast but once it was going places and then had money invested – get the basics right!

The entire ‘social’ aspect involves a permission system to allow you to post on your friends’ page or post a bulletin they may read or comment on their crap posey photos. Who actually has 10241 friends? Does someone who has this many MySpace friends actually stay in touch with every single one? I can’t help but doubt it.

There are other things kicking off now that AJAX is better understood and that code-wise developers are experimenting with new ideas with existing code such as using JSON in the AJAX like code or JQuery for example. The basics still let sites down.

Whatever goes up on the web, just make sure your semantics of your mark-up reads how it should, the output of the markup is accessible (at least to ‘AA’ standard), label your mark-up well and use CSS for layout. Think about your database design – you might have only 10 users now but if your design is right and normalised to a realistic degree, then you have the room to expand. Ensure that your code (PHP/ASP/Python or whatever) can be read by other developers and refrain from using obscure names for variables and functions.

Like it or not, your ‘baby’ might be brought up by someone else – deal with it.

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14th March, 2007