The three spheres of web strategy

Jeremiah Owyang posted an interesting thought-model of three essential elements of web strategy.

The three spheres, which are influencing each other, intersecting and overlaying are Business, Community and Technology:

The business sphere requires a strategist to understand the long term objective of a website and it’s goals.

The Community: The Web Strategist must understand (by using a variety of techniques and tactics) what users want. This is commonly known as User Experience Research which will create and craft a ‘mental model’.

Lastly, a Web Strategist needs to know how each and every tool and technology work, they’ll need to know the strengths, benefits, limitations and costs. This also applies to human capital, and timelines.

His viewpoint is that of a web strategist working within a company, being, for example, in charge of the corporate website. But it can also translate to digital planners in agencies, who need a similar profile.

„Users“ as a target group are dead. Everyone „uses“ the web.

Max Kalehoff writes about „the death of the user„. The user as such is „dead“ because all people are users now. In the US it’s 80%, and even in Germany, where I am from, the majority of 62% of the population are „users“.

Let’s just call people what they are: people. The problem is that inaccurate buzzwords and overused vernacular, like users, distance us from our true intentions and interactions with customers and each other. Not just in technology, but in marketing, media, advertising and the Web — everywhere, really.

Interesting thought. If you start thinking not about users, but people who use your site, your web application, your whatever tool/marketing gadget, you’re instantly led to think about uses and different usage of things. That should help you thinking more in favour of different target groups and their needs.

One benefit that came from focusing on the person and not the user has been being able to easily see that people have different desired uses and reuses for the data, information, media, etc.

(Joe Jaffe, btw, has been saying that for a while in his podcasts.)

Do you remember? Gold rush in 1995

Sean pointed me to an old article that takes us down memory lane. It’s about the gold rush feeling some 12 years ago. The hopes and expectations were as high as today, but the numbers behind „the web“ were much smaller. Here is a couple of quotes, plus my own thoughts of what has changed in the last 12 years.

It’s that huge body of potential consumers that has businesses scrambling to get onto the Web, to which 6.64 million computers are already hooked up. There are more than 100,000 Web sites already […] The popular Yahoo guide to the Web lists more than 23,540 companies. […] Nielsen Media Research (famed for its TV-market analysis) found that 24 million people in the United States and Canada have used the Internet in the past three months–more than 18 million of whom used the Web.

Interesting by the way, the differentiation between the web and the internet. I guess most digital immigrants of today wouldn’t know that there ever was a difference. And I also think that in another 10 years time, people won’t know what we mean by „surfing the internet“ or „being online“. Simply because the net will be omnipresent. Every electronical device and every house, car, fridge, will be connected to the net. People will be online all the time, without thinking or doing anything about it.

To many, this is the dawn of a radical new commercial era in which a single medium combines elements that used to be conveyed separately: text, voice, video, graphics. Countless firms will be transformed in the process, including publishing, banking, retailing and deliverers of health care, insurance and legal services. […] Is there a market for this commercial zeal? Answer: There is a fairly small one now and probably a large one to come in the next decade. But many things must happen technologically and creatively to draw more paying customers.

While the boom up until 2001 was filled with hope in an era of still too few users and static websites, the last couple of years have changed that. This is, of course, what people refer to as web 2.0. It caused a shift, both technologically, and in the way users can interact with websites (i.e. companies). And there is around 1 billion people online by now – in many developed countries, the rate is between 40-70% of the population.

most information on the Internet is already free, as is much software. Experienced Internauts, not used to paying for things they download, may be reluctant to pay as they go. Second, as spectacular as the Web technology is, it still has a considerable way to go to become attractive to the great numbers of consumers who are used to the amenities of mall and catalog culture.

Things like Flash, AJAX, etc. have greatly improved the usability of many sites. Some sites have implemented payed content business models which actually work, based on exclusive content or functionalities. But quite a few sites that tried to offer more or less regular content for paying subcribers did not succeed an opened up their archives again. This will not change. Unfiltered, regular content will become somewhat of a commodity. Only sites offering added value through filtering, remixing, sorting or commenting existing content will make a difference. If, and only if, users can tailor these services to their needs. Relevance of content will be increasingly important during the ongoing flood and fragmentation of information.

The new requirements for advertising and marketing in this new era were already cristal clear in 1995:

Understand the medium. Conducting business on the Web, a phenomenon with no parallel in communications history, will demand new strategies in advertising and marketing. Unlike broadcasting and print, which are one-to-many entities with a passive audience, the Internet is a many-to-many medium in which everyone with a computer and modem is a potential publisher. Web surfers, for example, tend to be self-directed. They typically have little patience for „brochureware,“ advertisements that are thrown up like so many billboards.
The Web gives commerce a unique opportunity to communicate directly with employees and customers around the world. „The Web can be a powerful tool for fostering connections, building associations, delivering information and creating online communities,“ says John December, co-author of The World Wide Web Unleashed. […] The Web, says Hamilton [Federal Express], is „one of the best customer relationship tools ever.“

I wonder, why it has taken the industry so long to start offering the right kind of marketing tools? In a way, there still is a lot of companies out there that don’t respect what has been written 12 years ago!

I am very curious to see what the world will look like in another 12 years. I will be close to 50 years old, probably with kids – digital natives – and hopefully still maintain this blog. Just to make sure that I will pull this old post out again, I will send myself a reminder via email for in 12 years time, using

Google, Marissa Mayer and the future of search

The Searchnomics Conference just took plave a few days ago. Read/Write Web covers the presentation of Marissa Mayer of Google, who talked about 8 areas Google is currently working on (or has launched only recently), which will define the future of search:

Automated translation: According to Mayer, someday in the future Google could automatically search content in all languages and present all the translated results to the user on the same page, regardless of language!

Book search: they are adding metadata about books, so that Google’s algorithms can understand what the book is about, relevant references, and availability of the content.

Images and video: one of their recent changes is to include all web videos into Google search; it is no longer limited to content within Google Video

Voice search: a free phone service that you can call to perform a voice search. As the usage of this system rises, the increasing number of samples of user input will be used to improve voice-to-text technology; users are, in effect, training the system to recognize voice commands

Universal search: the blending of different types of content, such as images and news, into the main search engine

Maps and local search: There are some interesting new advances in this area – for example, Google Maps now supports traffic display, based on data licensed from third parties…

Client software: Google Gears and Gadgets: Google Gadgets enables third-party developers to create tiny applications that live on the desktop and connect to the web in the background to pull in information from the web. Google Gears provides a browser plug-in that, in Mayer’s words, takes Ajax applications and makes them better.

iGoogle: As an example, Mayer said that although she’s a big fan of Netflix, she probably would not make it her home page; with a gadget, however, Netflix could still establish a presence within her home page

One of the most interesting things for me is, however, how people get so excited about Marissa Mayer:

At the end of the session, I had the opportunity to meet her briefly [certainly one of the high points of the conference for me!]

Admittingly, she is pretty. And supposedly, she is also very smart. But the main things is positioning. She is a pretty and clever girl in a world of geeks.

Digital Attention Deficit Trait…

So this how people get alienated these days: by having too many digital connections with others. Says this article on Forbes.

Thanks to technology, people have never been more connected–or more alienated

There is a lot of Klischee stuff in that article, but yet some good quotes:

The self that grows up with multitasking and rapid response measures success by calls made, e-mails answered and messages responded to.

We live a contradiction: Insisting that our world is increasingly complex, we nevertheless have created a communications culture that has decreased the time available for us to sit and think, uninterrupted.

One thought, though, takes it a little over the top, I think:

One says, „I don’t have enough time alone with my mind“; another, „I artificially make time to think.“ Such formulations depend on an „I“ separate from the technology, a self that can put the technology aside so as to function apart from its demands. But it’s in conflict with a growing reality of lives lived in the presence of screens, whether on a laptop, palmtop, cell phone or BlackBerry. We are learning to see ourselves as cyborgs, at one with our devices. To put it most starkly: To make more time means turning off our devices, disengaging from the always-on culture. But this is not a simple proposition, since our devices have become more closely coupled to our sense of our bodies and increasingly feel like extensions of our minds.

(found on the „cult of the amateur“ blog.)