Hitting The Mark

Websites, Weblogs and Wikis, oh my! A refresher….

Understanding the differences between today’s online tools can be helpful to new businesses starting up who want to figure out how to creatively build their online presence, and get the most bang for their buck.  The jargon surrounding the tools is diverse and often confusing, but should not hamper your ability to ignite your site development project.

A static website, which is what most businesses built back when the Internet was new and is still widely used today, contains content that is “static” in nature and is rarely updated.  The important information about the business doesn’t change very much over time, such as the company’s mission, its location and store hours, for example.  Changes to service capabilities, staff and/or product offerings are updated infrequently, and the visual layout of the site remains the same over long periods of time. Today many of these sites incorporate widgets which provide real time updates from select sources, such as Twitter, Facebook, the stock market or commodity exchanges, to name a few.

A blog has content that is updated frequently.  Visually, the lines have been blurred in recognizing a blog site versus a static one and many people can no longer recognize the differences in layout and functionality. The content, often presented in the form of “news,” is consistently and regularly posted to position the blog as offering fresh information that is timely and sharable. Blogs tend to thrive on the consistency and regularity of new postings, which their audiences learn to expect.  All posted blog content is dated and typically published in reverse chronological order.  Blogs also differ from static sites in that they offer their audience space to comment and engage in conversation with the business.  This can be a useful or dangerous customer service tool, and thus must be closely monitored by the business.

Blog style sites and their timely postings have become increasingly important in the online universe as the search engine algorithms index the new content almost immediately and static site content may not be indexed for days or even weeks.  This attention by the search engines has contributed to the proliferation of blog-style sites in the last couple of years

According to Wikipedia, a wiki is “a website that allows users to add content, as on an Internet forum, but also allows anyone to edit the content.”  In other words, instead of a page being built by a single person or team, the public is welcome to contribute, thereby creating community built content. One of the most popular today is Medium.com, which we love because of the way it celebrates the written word in this collaborative style.

The launch of Google’s Hummingbird search algorithm in September 2013 is enabling search to rise to an entirely new level focusing on user intent.  It is more precise than ever and can pay attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the entire sentence, conversation or meaning is taken into account, rather than particular words. This kind of ever increasing sophistication in search is destined to continue to shape the structure, format and functionality of the websites we desire and build as the Internet continues to evolve.