If the Information Age has underlined one thing for businesses, it’s this: You want your bottom line to grow steadily, and not suffer at every whim of the market. Such whims have been frequent in recent years, as mobile, the cloud, social media and data analytics have gained traction. Now another shift is about to happen, and its name is the experience web.
The experience web makes users the center of the online universe, delivering a customized feed of news and suggested links and purchases. Today you can get weather, showtimes and flight information right from a Google (News - Alert) search screen. Tomorrow, you’ll be able to get the same information from your smartwatch and beamed at you from a near-field communication beacon. Products and services will come find you, instead of the other way around.
Is your business ready?
The Change is Already Happening
Experience-ready sites are already getting more attention from the most popular search engines and social media and their links are being delivered to content hungry users. Whether your company develops apps, products, or stages events, Google, Facebook (News - Alert) and others are going to borrow your data and funnel it into the array of devices that make up the experience web. Making it easier for them will increase both your web presence and your bottom line.
The next step for businesses is to be experience-ready. Desktop-sized websites will fall to the wayside as the Amazons and Apples of the world continue to centralize data delivery. If you want to keep up, you will have to contextualize your content so that the big players can easily borrow and display it, whichever form it happens to take.
How to Take Advantage of the Experience Web
The experience web takes the assembled, re-usable elements that have come to define the internet and re-uses them across the web. Graphics, copy and forms will be borrowed to advertise your products and events to users who show interest in similar things. In other words, the content that big data is personalizing might come from your businesses.
This could be something of an advertising boon for your company, and you should take advantage. The only requirement for entry is providing context for your data. Use semantic markup standards so web crawlers will understand exactly what your data is and know how to display it in other contexts. While chunks of copy will still exist, the pieces that matter—product names, prices, addresses and the like—need to be marked as such.
Facebook and other sites recognize these elements and fit them into their sidebars and suggested links. The context your site provides allows your content to be displayed in different formats.
As the experience web grows, new channels for content will pop up all the time. Creating original content is essential, but look for ways to integrate with other apps and services. Whether it's calendar information, the exploding market for health information from wearables, or an online wallet, the experience web will make it easier to proliferate the content that you provide. This is the experience niche for your business. Now is the time to create it.
Context for the Masses
Because it centralizes and redistributes global data from everywhere, the experience web will make the world a smaller place. For companies, that means that new international markets will quickly open up. It won't be enough to simply have content to display if the end user can't read it in their native language. Plan to globalize from the very beginning of your project, so that you don’t have to re-develop your online presence for every new language a customer speaks.
Remember, the experience web relies on contextualization. It can mold content into any format. Choose a platform that allows for easy, hands-off language translation of all your content, regardless of type. Drupal 8, for instance, now has built-in translation capabilities. So even if you're not marketing in Rome or Shanghai today, having the option to turn on automated translation with a couple of clicks in your current CMS will allow you to test new markets painlessly.
Content, Content Everywhere
In coming years, you want to be able to proliferate your brand and message on every device. Preparing for the experience web now puts you ahead of the curve as new devices like the Apple (News - Alert) Watch hit the market. After all, you never know anymore where and when your content will appear. Whether it appears on the screen in the backseat of a taxi in Las Vegas or in a meeting in Tokyo, you want to be ready.
About the Author: Calvin is a dedicated executive with over 18 years of experience managing products, sales, marketing, operations, and personnel. His experience ranges from work with a Fortune 500 company to small start-ups.