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We've all read about Web 2.0 and the impact it will have on 21st-century businesses. Some find the principles life altering, others say it's pure hype. Whichever camp you are in, you can't ignore the fact that business is changing—especially online.

As the owner of an online marketing and design company and a former marketing director at AOL, I've watched the Web grow and change since 1994. I've had to figure out how Web 2.0 principles actually impact online businesses right now so that my customers are prepared.

For this reason, I've targeted five categories that managers need to consider now to keep in step with Web 2.0 changes.

Step 1. Strategy

Take a hard look at your online strategy

Strategy was decidedly absent from 20th-century Web sites. Businesses developed their Web site based on what they knew about online selling at the time—not much. This foundation underpins many Web sites today, both large and small. Many companies dismiss a top-down review as difficult, costly and time-consuming. It's no less costly that a Web site with flat or declining revenues. I'm not recommending tossing everything out and starting over. What I do recommend is that you look at your Web site and see whether the strategy matches what you are trying to accomplish now.

Jason Jennings, in his book Think Big; Act Small, exhorts companies to embrace the qualities that smallness provides—quick improvements, employees close to the problem, and the ability to connect with customers. Identify the problems and make steady, planned improvements.

I use a technique called Mind Maps to analyze Web site strategy. It's easy to learn and cuts through the political barriers that prevent change.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie Diamond is former marketing director for AOL and is the founder of Digital Media Works, Inc. (www.DigMediaWorks.com).