Web buzzwords you should know for 2011

Buzzwords

As a new year starts, we look at the buzzwords that we think you’ll need to know in 2011. You’ll probably know some of the buzzwords listed below as they’ve been around for a while, but we think they’ll become increasingly important in 2011. There are also a few new ones as the shape of the internet changes and we start to focus even more on things like social media and portable mobile devices.

Social media marketing

You don’t need us to tell you that social networks are extremely popular these days. In 2010 Facebook announced it had over 500 million users. Social media marketing is all about using those social networks like Twitter and Facebook to find a wider audience for your product, event or idea, and enabling people to interact and really engage with your company. And social media marketing is going to get bigger still in 2011. Usually it involves gaining an audience of people who will be interested in what you’re offering to them, so that they’re welcome that you’ve brought them this information.

Social media marketing is about sharing relevant and useful information with the right people, to improve brand loyalty and grow your customer base.

Social proof

We’re all influenced by the opinions of our friends or peers. You might go and see a movie if a friend recommends it to you. And if several friends recommend you go and see the same movie, you’re a lot more likely to do it . Social proof works like that, and it’s something Facebook is great at. If you look at the fan page for your favourite TV show (for example Big Bang Theory) you’ll see how many of your friends like this too.

79 friends like this

Seeing that 78 of your friends like it, makes you feel that it must be ok if you like it too. In fact it makes you feel like you’re missing out if you don’t like it! This is social proof. It’s based on some proven aspects of human nature: that we feel happier if we’re part of a group (most of us anyway) and that we’re more likely to do something if we know other people have. It’s why marketers love customer testimonials and stats.

HTML5

HTML is the language that all websites are built in, and version 5 is the latest incarnation that a lot of web developers are getting excited about because it can do a lot of cool stuff. Before you get too excited though, we should say that most of the features HTML5 brings you’ll have seen before using javascript. But now we can create them as standard using HTML rather than turning to third party code and plugins (e.g. Flash and Javascript).

Some of the advantages of HTML5 are:

  • Improved semantics – Common elements used to code webpages will be standardised.
  • Improved accessibility – Better support for people browsing websites on mobile devices like iPhones and Blackberries, or assistive technologies that allow disabled users to use websites.
  • Geolocation – Websites will be able to find out the user’s location, which is useful to many web applications on mobile devices.
  • Smarter forms – Improvements to input fields allowing users more control, and better controls for validating data without needing to use Javascript.

Much of HTML5 is still brand new and the specification is still in development. Many browsers don’t support it yet, so any HTML5 additions have to fall back to previous technologies or they just won’t work for people with unsupported browsers. This has caused many developers to ignore it for the time being, but we’re seeing a steady rise in websites being built using the new technology, and browsers gradually supporting it.

CSS3

Like HTML5, CSS3 is a new technology that isn’t quite supported in all browsers yet. CSS3 allows you more control over styling your HTML structured content, and includes new things such as:

  • adding images as borders
  • giving rounded corners to objects
  • creating gradients
  • animating objects.

CSS3 isn’t supported in all browsers yet, but you can start using it now as long as you supply a fallback for people using browsers that won’t display the CSS3.

App

An app is just a shortened word for ‘Application’, which is any program on your computer that does something. You will have heard this word used when talking about iPhones and Android phones – apps can be downloaded onto the phone to perform some new functionality.

You might have also heard it used in the term ‘web app’, which is a way to describe a website which is more than just the usual set of static HTML pages. A web application is a much more complicated website that performs some useful functionality.

Cloud computing

This is a term you might have heard recently to describe the direction that computer infrastructure is going. Cloud computing is internet-based computing, where vast shared servers housed in massive datacentres will do the complicated processing so that your computer accessing the web doesn’t need to. This is really useful for devices such as mobile phones, where processing power is limited.

AJAX

AJAX stands for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. It is typically used for creating web applications. Some people incorrectly refer to AJAX as a programming language.It’s just a way of sending and retrieving data without having to submit a form and wait for the page to reload. By using AJAX you can make your web application behave more like a desktop application.

Microblogging

Blogging is a great way to provide free, well-written and interesting content to your audience and attract visitors to your website. But it takes a long time to create a long article. Microblogging is a way to broadcast information more frequently in much smaller chunks of text. The most popular microblogging service is Twitter, which limits users to only 140 characters per article.

Geolocation

In terms of websites, Geolocation means the ability for websites to find out the user’s location, which is useful to many web applications on mobile devices. Many mobile phones allow websites to pinpoint their location, and use that to display information about the surrounding area, show maps, points of interest, or find their closest friends. Geolocation is built in as a standard into HTML5, making it easier for websites to use the current user’s location.

Viral

You find a funny video on YouTube and show it to your friend, and they show it to their friends, who show it to their friends, and so on. This means it has gone viral.

It’s the goal of many publishers to get their content to go viral: to be seen by as many people as possible through word of mouth.

Crowdsourcing

If you have a task or project that’s time consuming or difficult to achieve on your own you might want to open it up to a much larger group of people or a community.

A typical example would be to get feedback from a large number of people, and gather suggestions. A more creative example of crowdsourcing might be to get many people across the country to write about the weather in their area – something one person wouldn’t have the time or resources to do – and collate that information into a website showing the country’s weather. An example of crowdsourcing you will be familiar with is Wikipedia, which relies on a large number of people to contribute to the articles.

Tablet

With the release of Apple’s iPad in 2010 other companies have started releasing their own tablet devices to compete. We’ll hear the word tablet being used more in 2011 as they become increasingly popular and websites have to be optimised to work well with tablets. Because tablets have touchscreens, people won’t be navigating websites with a mouse. This means websites will have to rethink any hover-over functionality.

Social Media Optimisation

As we said above, using social networks can be a great way to get people to visit your website. Social media optimisation is all about making sure your website can be easily found by social media sites and the content on it can be easily shared by your audience. Social media optimisation could mean adding sharing buttons to your content, allowing more social activities on your site like polling and commenting, as well as projecting some of the content off site using RSS feeds, blogging, commenting on other blogs, and posting content on social media websites.

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