Next generation websites will be conversations

What will the future of web look like from a designer/developer's point of view? Currently, more and more corporate websites are converting to 'web 2.0'. The changes don't come as fast here the Netherlands as in the states, and many smaller firms still lack behind with an outdated, non-semantic site from the 90's which often isn't anything more than a digital business card, but nevertheless many firms begin to see the benefits of web 2.0 and the need to keep up if you want to be taken seriously.

But what's next?
One possible scenario for the future of corporate sites is described in this article on Frankwatching (Dutch). In short: in the next 5-10 years websites and applications will be merging more and more. Websites will become services and parts of these services might be at other places on the web. It's all about web 3.0 and the semantic web.

It makes sense if you think about it: A website is a marketing tool. Therefore its purpose is to achieve certain goals for specific target groups. But now, your target audience is all over the place. They might be in groups on Facebook or have their own niche-community site. You can't expect them to find your corporate site. You need to connect with them through different channels and API's.

This will pose some new challenges and opportunities. For one, it might be hard to explain and convince your client the need to work with other services - not just their own island on the web.

[caption id="attachment_586" align="alignnone" width="574" caption="'The Conversation Prism' by Brian Solis"][/caption]

Website + Feedback 3.0 = Converstation
Feedback 3.0 is actually one of the trends mentioned recently on Trendwatching.com. As a result of the increased complexity - content and references about your activities are scattered over the web - many smaller firms won't have the resources to monitor all these channels. Already we see companies who provide payed on-line services and tools to take care of your web presence. SEO will merge into complete 'public web relation' services. Some large firms already have their own webcare teams watching over their on-line presence and reputation.

Take a look at this example of great customer care: Someone writes an angry tweet about their credit card claiming he is just about to switch to another bank. The bank reads his message and calls his client on the phone to ask if they can do anything which might reconsider his decision.

I think this is a great example how future 'websites' (if you can still call them that way - it's really more about web presence) will become more and more conversations with your (potential) clients. A more common example is the company blog.

CSS, HTML, Javascript
Our tools to build are changing too. Javascript libraries have become common to achive particular user-interaction behaviour but also as a workaround for many CSS limitations. Here is a good read and discussion about this topic. Javascript is here to stay. Google already knows that. So they made a browser which is optimized to handle Javascript.
CSS 3 is nice, but even Internet Explorer 8 will not support all functions, and HTML 5 is also still years away. But these things are still only tools. There are always creative ways to get around any design challenge.

Other related links:

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