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Web 2.0

Online business has moved through a major phase in its development over the last three years. The Web 2.0 paradigm that was felt as the social networking websites developed has now moved into E-commerce. Web development today means building an online business that not only connects with its customers, but that also enables its customers to participate in that business. User generated content is at the heart of the Web 2.0 movement that continues to expand across the Internet.

What is Web 2.0?
Generally the term Web 2.0 is used as an umbrella description that encompasses the interactive nature of the Internet and the movement of desktop applications such as word processing or spreadsheets to the Internet. Web 2.0 also includes user generated content on chat rooms and forums, but also describes the social networking phenomenon that includes blogs and web developments such as Facebook and MySpace.

For an online business, Web 2.0 means a closer relationship with its customers. Commerce online is no longer just a one way transaction. Your customers buy your business’s goods and services, but they can also write reviews of their experience and offer their views on how your products can be improved. This interaction is a key foundation of what Web 2.0 is all about in a commercial environment like your online business.

Web 2.0 and Business
At first glance Web 2.0 and the development of social networking on the Internet has little to do with business. However, what enterprises are realising is that with systems like Google Apps real cost savings can be made and efficiency of their business’s boosted. Also with the addition of business blogging, and social networking activity on their own website customer loyalty can be enhanced that ultimately improves profits.

The much talked about SaaS or Software as a Service is at the heart of how the trends that define Web 2.0 will impact on your online business. This moves your business applications from your desktop applications and onto your servers or the Internet itself. This breaking of the link between business applications and the computer desktop is important to understand as the future looks set to move all web development and business management applications onto the Internet.

Welcome to the Webtop
Web 2.0 also means that your online business can now be run much more efficiently by moving away from software you have installed on your computer’s desktop, to applications that only exist on the Internet. It is now possible to use business management systems entirely online with nothing more than your Internet browser. This group of applications has moved users from the desktop and onto the webtop.

Having the ability to access the application you need to effectively run your online business from any computer with an Internet connection is a powerful tool to have. Web 2.0 technologies have delivered this new form of business management. Google has many online applications you can use to run your online business from email to spreadsheet programs. The Web 2.0 applications companies like 37signals have a range of online applications you can use that embrace the webtop and offer your online business a superb set of business management tools.

Web 2.0 Checklist
The trends that characterise the Web 2.0 paradigm should be your guide to the web development of your online business, but should also guide your business to ensure it is ideally placed to take advantage of these new trends and reap the financial rewards. Use the checklist below to ensure your online business is Web 2.0 ready:

Software as a Service
The online applications are maturing at a rapid rate. Now is the time to evaluate these programs and see if they can be integrated into the management of your web development and online business.

Social Interaction
How do you communicate with the customers that buy from your online business? Look closely at how Web 2.0 technologies such as forums could enhance that interaction. Consumers want to make a close connection with the businesses they trade with. If you can facilitate that connection your online business will gain loyal customers.

User Created Content
Early in the development of E-commerce online business realised that they could enhance their sales by offering their customers the ability to review and comment on the goods and services they sold. How does your business cultivate that content? One major Web 2.0 trend is more user created content.

Embrace Blogging and RSS
For the customers of your online business Web 2.0 means developing a network of news, businesses, entertainment and connection with friends and colleagues to enable them to create a web of information and resources that is of interest to them. Using RSS news feeds and maintaining a blog associated with your online business places your enterprise at the centre of this network. The more connections you make with existing and potential customers ultimately means sustained sales.