Pretty ambiguous title isn’t it? That’s entirely intentional, because the topic of this particular article is something that a lot of web designers seem to hate talking about.
But, now that I’ve got you here hopefully you’ll stick around, so I’ll let the cat out of the bag (so to speak). In this article we’re going to be talking about Web 2.0.
Wait! Don’t run away! This isn’t the sort of article that’s going to round up eight bazillion awesome examples of Web 2.0 designs, or a tutorial that’s going to try to teach you how to replicate some overused and increasingly outdated design element. No, I’m going to tackle the issue head on and in a way that I hope will actual be useful for you. Why? Because we can’t simply ignore Web 2.0 (as much as we may want to).
The term is out there, and has permeated far beyond the borders of the design community and into the mind of the larger public.
it has also permeated into the minds of your clients and potential clients.
That means it has also permeated into the minds of your clients and potential clients.
Here’s a case in point. The other day I was communicating with a new prospect about possibly designing a website and all the things that it would entail. We had exchanged a few emails already when that dreaded question that so many web designers hate to hear came up: will the site design be in 2.0? As a designer/developer, this kind of thing generally and predictably draws a plaintive groan from my lips. Images of strong gradients, big bold stripes, glossy buttons and overused reflections dance like tiny, trendy goblins in my mind.
Later, when I offered my initial proposal for the website, I indicated that I would code it all in XHTML 1.0 and CSS3. I didn’t really expect the client to understand exactly what that meant, but it’s just one of my standard practices to include those kind of technical details, just to make sure that I’ve covered all the bases.
As you can imagine, the client came back and asked: Will the site be done in XHTML 2.0? Based on the previous version-based question, I was reasonably certain that the client was not referring to the W3C’s now defunct concept for XHTML 2 (parts of which have survived in HTML5 – see Jeremy Keith’s wonderfully succinct “A Brief History of Markup” for more details).
No, what the client was actually talking about was his notion of having a website designed to “work” with version 2.0 of the web.
No New Internet
Of course, there is no “new” version of the internet. We’ve introduced some new technologies into the mix, and allowed others to grow and evolve. Our browsers can do a heck of a lot more in terms of rendering sites than they could a decade ago, and the evolution of frameworks like jQuery have allowed for the much broader development of application-like functionality within a document.
But, at its core a website is still very much the kind of thing that I talk about in my recent article “HTML (and CSS) do Not a Website Make” – the unified sum of the various technologies that drive it.
It’s also important to note that there has been no significant change to the underlying structure that drives the internet. To quote Wikipedia on this subject:
Critics of the term claim that “Web 2.0″ does not represent a new version of the World Wide Web at all, but merely continues to use so-called “Web 1.0″ technologies and concepts. First, techniques such as AJAX do not replace underlying protocols like HTTP, but add an additional layer of abstraction on top of them.
As web designers and developers, this probably isn’t anything all that new or revolutionary for us and we understand that the internet that we are using today is precisely the same internet that we were using back in 1995.
Instead of being replaced with a new version, it has simply grown and matured, much the same way my daughter has transformed from a helpless newborn to the energetic two and half year old who is currently pushing my MacBook closed and asking me to come play with her…