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Adopting a Web 2.0 Mindset: Walk Before You Wiki

by Val Fox  |  
September 30, 2008

Since Tim O'Reilly coined the phrase "Web 2.0" back in 2004 at a new media conference, companies have been scrambling to figure out how to deploy Web. 2.0 applications... but for all the wrong reasons.

I've observed CEOs pointing to competitors' sites, insisting, "They've got user-generated content so we need to do it," or, "A blog will help with our PR efforts during this downturn."

But where is the customer in the equation?

For all the buzz about blogs, wikis, widgets, and other forms of user-driven Web interactions, the question that's rarely asked is, "Is this what our customers want?"

Recently, when I helped a client pose that question to its Web site users, only 1 out of 10 users asked for social applications. The majority wanted the company to improve its site's core navigation and search functionality.

Essentially, they were asking my client to "walk before you wiki" by enhancing core functionality they use every time they visit the site.

Given the exposure of social applications in the media and in the boardroom, now's the time for Web business owners to make the case for building engaging online interactions with customers.

First, you need to recognize that customers will engage with site features they need and want. Simply put, you can design the most useful, elegant application, but if your customers don't need it—it will eventually languish on your site as another "distraction."

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Val Fox is the founder of Red Valise ( and the author of the DIY Site Renovations e-newsletter, helping small businesses improve their online experiences.

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  • by S Tue Sep 30, 2008 via web

    Hi Val, this is good to know, I am actually working on updating our website with 2.0 technology (blogs, forums) and I find that the CEO of our company is focusing too much on whta the competitors websites are doing so we can do it too.. The trick is we are in a very specific targeted industry and I've found very little research to investigate. Therefore I end up going to our competitors websites...

  • by Aaron Kahlow Sun Oct 5, 2008 via web

    great post Val! totally agree with the sentiment of getting the "foundation" of a good website nailed first then layering on Web 2.0 apps and UCG... so many folks have such bad user experiences that there is no Social Media app that will make that site more engaging... much like painting over the rusted building... that rust will show thru at every point....

    Would love to talk to you about speaking at the Online Marketing Summit in Feb if interested... check out and feel free to find me on facebook or linkedin

  • by Val Fox Mon Oct 6, 2008 via web

    S, thanks for your note and do what you can to steer your CEO away from simply copycatting competitors' sites! Once your site meets users' primary goals, venture into Web 2.0 but define your goals first so you can match the appropriate technologies. For example, it doesn't make sense to launch a one-sided corporate blog if your goal is to get generate awareness & buzz. Good luck!

  • by Val Fox Mon Oct 6, 2008 via web

    Hi Aaron - thanks for the comment and your invitation. Will connect via Facebook or LinkedIn!

  • by Kh.Mohsin Tue Nov 25, 2008 via web

    very nice article,a must read for all business managers

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