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Talking Point – Some things never really change. Well not that much.

One of the great things about providing websites for clients since almost the beginning of the www explosion, as Expert has been doing (being officially founded in 2000), means we can share our long memories, heaps of experience and lots of stories.

In the early days, websites were pretty rare for many small businesses and somewhat of a mystery for those charged with getting one created to meet their organisation’s needs, especially small businesses and those in the not-for-profit sector. Millennials were only just being born back then, so you couldn’t rely on kids or grandkids to help much, and reliance was placed on companies like Expert, to guide organisations through the process.

While technology has moved at a very rapid (some may say ‘scary’) pace in the last 20 years or so, interestingly the basic needs for a good website have largely stayed the same. It’s still about increasing market share, raising awareness of your existence, and communicating with clients and potential clients. For those of you who find this hard to believe, we have proof!

In a recent clean out of our archives, I came across old documents dating back to 2000 and apart from some obvious improvements in the technology tools available, such as Google Analytics, not a lot has changed. Sure, website screens are wider these days, more images are used, some graphics are streamlined and standardised, navigation is more intuitive, and more moving stuff is evident, but the basic principles are surprisingly unchanged.

Relevance was a big deal then and still is

In one old document, dated April 2003 and titled ‘Web Site Checklist’, ‘relevance’ was a big deal, along with attracting visitors to your site. Suggestions were made on how to attract visitors and what incentives you should provide to tempt them to return to your website or to sign-up to receive your e-zines. Keeping the content up to date and interesting was also highlighted as being very important, and tips were supplied on how you could generate passive revenue from your website (selling advertising slots and offering sponsorship mainly), which probably isn’t that useful these days as Google has muscled in on this lucrative concept.

Surprisingly, or maybe not, given that Expert was an early adopter and leader in this, there was also a section in the document from 2003 on the Benefits of Managing Your Own Website using a “website content management tool” to create, update and modify your own site. Those same benefits remain today, however the advances in technology have definitely helped to make it easier so that pretty much everyone can do this, regardless of technical ability.

There were also sections on ‘What You Can Do With Your Website’, ‘Site Requirements’ and ‘Designing New Web Sites’, and most of the information contained in these sections is still current and relevant today. Surprisingly.

Demise of printed material

In the intervening years since 2000, when we were all learning about the power of the web, we’ve seen some things disappear or lose their prominence. These redundant (or diminished) items include

  • Business cards
  • Printed magazines, newsletters and newspapers
  • Pre-printed stationery, such as letterheads and invoice blanks
  • Printed conference brochures
  • Printed advertising material, such as fliers and brochures
  • Printed calendars
  • Greetings cards
  • Printed invitations
  • Restaurant Menus
  • Recipe books

Websites can’t take the full credit for the demise of all of the above, however along with technology improvements for websites has come improvements for emails and most other things that can be electronically transmitted.

On the converse side, perhaps to counter the changed opportunities to get an organisation’s message in front of its customers, printed packaging has become more prominent with the advent of online shopping, and paper shopping bags have provided another means to promote retailers, but these methods are used post-purchase. There’s absolutely no doubt that websites have disrupted the usual forms of business communication from inception of the web; gradually at first but massively now.

Discretion and common sense is still important

Looking back at the documents from our archives provides a sense of déjà vu of what was to follow. The last 20 plus years have flown by and it will be interesting to see what websites of the future might morph into. They seem to be getting smaller in terms of pages/content (less detail mainly), are definitely much faster to load, and the information contained is shared amongst visitors with ease and speed. They’re our ‘go to’ sources for knowledge (via Google and similar search engines), though in some cases they’re not always an accurate way to gather data, so discretion and a bit of common sense often needs to be applied.

With the recent explosion in AI tools’ accessibility for the average person, I suspect there will be a huge leap in dependence and expectation on websites to provide even more information on demand. Of course, this also leaves us exposed to abuse by the bad guys, but it seems there’s usually a negative side to anything positive that’s created, so hopefully the good will outweigh the bad.

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Phone: +64 4 384 9833 | Email: us@expert.services
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