If you’re confused about what exactly Web 2.0 is, you’re in good company. This often-repeated buzzword has many Web site owners — not just catalogers — scratching their heads and wondering what the heck Web 2.0 is and whether their sites need it.
Fear not. Web 2.0 actually is a broad term, closer to a concept encompassing a whole cluster of new tools and techniques used on Web sites. You didn’t see them three to five years ago. It’s not a software package you can buy from Microsoft or build yourself, but rather a catchphrase that denotes your Web site is keeping current with the trends in marketing and design that online visitors (mainly the young) find on other Web sites.
In short, the customer shopping experience is smoother with these tools; Flash can be used to show rotating products on a home-page (see www.mariefox.com for a good example) or AJAX to put more shopping functions on a single page and streamline the process (www.gap.com is a great example).
▲ Video. The use of broadcast media is another excellent example of the first type of Web 2.0 (technical tools) in action. With the vast increase of people using broadband to get online, Web site designers have added streaming media (both video and audio) to enhance customers’ visits.
Chinaberry (www.chinaberry.com) lets visitors sample its audio books online. A Touch of Class (www.touchofclasscatalog.com) has a short movie displaying its Zen Gardens Bamboo Water Fountain. Back when most people accessed the Web via a dial-up connection, such features could never be offered.