The Evolution of the Website

by Susan Murphy

I’ve been at this whole web thing a while – pretty well since the beginning actually (well at least the beginning of the popular “Web”). I remember the first time I saw the Internet – It was 1996, and my brother called to me from his computer room. “I want to show you something that will blow your mind!” he shouted. I went into the room and sat down beside him. The computer screen was displaying nothing more than a murky grey background and some black text. A few of the words were blue and underlined. “It’s an ugly page of text. So what?” I said, and got up to leave. “That ugly page of text is coming from a computer on the other side of the world.”

I sat back down.

In that instant, I knew that things were about to change in a big way. I’d been working in television for about 6 years at that point and was pretty savvy about all kinds of media. But this…this was different. I realized that if people had the ability to post information that anyone in the world could see, then this could have a significant impact on the way people communicate.

Fast-forward a few years and the Web had become mainstream. By the late 90’s and early 2000’s, there were millions and millions of web sites. Many of these sites were basically online business cards – text and images on a screen, that in large part, displayed company descriptions and contact information, and not much more. There were some nifty new languages and tools appearing on the market that let you have some amount of interactivity and animation…but they weren’t the norm yet. Video was a bit of a pipe dream, as connection speeds simply weren’t fast enough to handle it. But companies were really starting to see the value in having a web presence.

Today, the Web is ubiquitous, to the point where companies that don’t have a web presence are perceived as lacking credibility. And it’s no longer just about having an online business card. Sure, it’s vitally important to ensure that your contact information appears, and that your site tells visitors something about your company. But there’s so much more to it now.

The Web has evolved from a relatively passive viewing experience (like TV) to a dynamic, two-way conversation. Social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, and blogs have revolutionized the way that companies interact with their customers.

But perhaps one of the biggest progressions on the Web has been online video. YouTube went online for the first time in 2005, and changed the way we perceived video. Video used to be mysterious and expensive. Now, anyone with a web cam and an idea can make a video. Bring some professional video people into the mix, and you can do something truly remarkable.

There’s no question nowadays that having a solid web presence is an integral part of marketing your business or organization. Using the amazing tools we have at our disposal to craft compelling stories and create real, engaging, two-way conversations is a key step in the process. The Web is a powerful medium, and it’s within reach of anyone.

So what are you waiting for?

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