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June 4, 2013
Web 6.0 Imperatives
In the beginning there were web pages. Brands staked their claims on the newly invented World Wide Web. Web 1.0 met consumer expectations that every brand would have an 800 number and a web page as points of contact.

Web 2.0 was about finding, developing, and embracing interactive technologies to engage customers, prospects, and other constituencies. It was about Flash, bells, whistles, and keeping up with the Joneses. Having a cool website mattered.

Web 3.0 was about business results. It was a phase of encyclopedic websites. Governance was split between marketing and IT. The Holy Grail was a fully realized multi-dimensional interactive relationship between a brand and its customer base nurtured by using the latest and greatest tools to achieve predictable business results. Metrics, rather than showbiz, began to be important.

In the Web 4.0 era, brands broke out of the corporate mold and sidestepped corporate rules to create countless mini-sites. Experimenting with one-off efforts to slip away from IT and corporate design and functionality restrictions, it was a re-run of 2.0 with more internal conflict and a much broader experimentation with designs, content, and functionality. Video, photo carousels, animation, and games were deployed. Social sharing was introduced. Brands began to orchestrate messaging, traffic, and content between branded sites and Facebook.

Today’s Web 5.0 is about the surgical use of sites to achieve specific marketing objectives in an era of near total mobility. Sites are no longer all things to all consumers. They are built to specifically and immediately achieve discrete business goals. They assume that context and mobility married to established best design, SEO, and functionality practices will achieve results effectively and efficiently.

And while everyone thinks they know how to create a 5.0 website, it is hardly the case. That’s why Gabe Shaoolian, founder of Blue Fountain Media, is emerging as a Web 5.0 guru based on the sheer volume of sites he’s built and his UX-driven insights. 

Here are his six Web 5.0 imperatives.

Start at the End. Determine what you want to the site to do. Then use user experience design techniques to direct visitors to make the desired action. Be rigorous. Eliminate anything that will distract or impede users. Put the most important stuff up front. Avoid too much scrolling. Pre-plan the page pathways. Then map them to business objectives.

Use Responsive Design. The Internet has gone mobile. Build sites that automatically stretch to fit the screens they’re viewed on. Given the high rate of smartphone turnover and tablet adoption, responsive design is much easier and efficient than creating separate versions for each operating system and its variants. It will take a bit longer and cost a bit more. But the payoff, in terms of user experience and SEO, will be well worth it.

Write for Scanners. Strive for clear concise messaging. Forget about intro pages. Anticipate FAQs. Proactively answer them. Avoid dense copy blocks and use lots of white space. Viewers, especially mobile users, scan. They don’t read. Design headlines and subheads to call out key messages. Use bullets and numbered lists to highlight content. And place big colored buttons to focus attention on your call to action.

Forget Flash. The days of dazzle are over. Use video, animation, and gaming techniques to engage visitors and sustain attention and page views. Don’t use music. Be careful when using copyrighted images, video, music, or memes. Be wary of image carousels because rarely does a single viewer see all the images.

Accelerate Sharing. Put social media buttons and sharing tools across the site. Create content with search and sharing in mind. Make it as easy as possible for visitors to help you earn added impressions. This is especially important for images, videos, and games, which lend themselves to sharing.

Make Navigation Simple. Put navigation across the top of the site so users have a clear line of sight. Left navigation bars, especially on interior or sub pages, are distracting and give visitors too many choices. Give users navigational control by using forward and backward breadcrumbs or numbers. The goal is to offer clear sign posts and reduce any friction or confusion.

Web 5.0 promises to be the most productive era so far. Implementing these ideas will yield a site that improves your chances for customer engagement, commerce, and loyalty. 

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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