Smile like you mean it: developing for the commercial web 2.0 world

I’m off to Brighton next month to attend a web development symposium with a large software company famous for producing a popular operating system beginning with W.'This is good news as far as I am concerned.

I’m off to Brighton next month to attend a web development symposium with a large software company famous for producing a popular operating system beginning with W.

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This is good news as far as I am concerned. Having recently worked on some projects with a pal of mine who edits a magazine for web designers, I am currently trying to analyse the connection points between developers and designers in this space as they are brought together to use common toolsets.

Version control and/or change management is a case in point; vendors in this space, it seems to me, are keen to extol the virtues of a system of code control when it comes to web development – especially when sites themselves are becoming as complex as offline applications in some cases.

So as web design and web code development increasingly coalesce, will a new undercurrent be felt in terms of web-facing customer relationship management (CRM)?

What I mean is, will sites not just look more slick and attractive and exhibit all forms of ‘stickiness’ – but will that customer awareness and CRM cognisance be reflected in the code that drives the site? When the home page smiles at you, will it really mean it?

Clearly we’re talking way beyond remembering passwords and cookies – we’re talking about CRM that affects the way sites perform depending on your behaviour. Perhaps not quite artificial intelligence for the web, but at least a new level of fine tuning akin to switching your car into a sports gearbox ratio, or indeed back to economy drive.

Next month’s event has a session I plan to attend entitled, “Becoming human; smiling like you mean it, and learning to say hello
,” to be presented by Denise Wilton, creative director of Moo.com – and quite apart from loving their business cards, I am intrigued.

“The Internet is changing the way smart companies sell to their customers. The traditional tones of corporate ad-speak sound lofty and unapproachable online – especially when the rest of the residents are talking with human hearts and voices,” says her promotional blurb with a suggestion to me that there are new construction parameters afoot to be discussed as we now have an oh-so very different Internet.

If the world of web 2.0 if going to continue to change the way the web is designed and built in the way it already has, then perhaps a more subtle infrastructural refresh could be on the cards. Maybe we’ll move from bricks and mortar web constructs to, in some cases, more disposable pre-fab builds for short term housing needs. Perhaps we’ll be sinking deeper foundations in some cases.

Smile like you mean it then. The web is going to have to do this I feel. We’ve become too web-savvy and too jaded by promotional pop-up windows to fall for anything but a new paradigm in site behaviour and this can surely only be achieved by new build methods for site development.

“I think up to now web 2.0 has been more about understanding new technologies and tools for spreading an online message”, says Web Designer editor Mark Billen. “If we’re now asking bigger questions about the language we use to communicate with audiences via these channels then that can only be a good thing – it’s only natural that people grow cynical of the old methods.”

As for a long-term prediction - I use a DVD service called RedBox which has a great online presence that emulates the kiosk interfaces you have to visit to physically pick up your movies. Researching your movie online is just like being stood at the kiosk – a bit better actually as you can watch trailers and other cool stuff. So as we get more and more used to great online experiences, perhaps shops will have to emulate our web shopping world. I’m sure someone will tell me that this is already happening – so what’s the score?

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