Many a pundit has proclaimed the death of the website, not unlike those who proclaimed the death of “traditional” media back in the early 90s. Well, on the eve of a presentation I’m about to give where I expound on the benefits of a website, I feel compelled to give you my top reasons why websites aren’t dead or even on the verge of dying…
1. It’s The Hub– clearly social media has changed the way we interact online (just as websites did in the mid-90’s.) But given the breadth of conversations and interactions that take place in social media, consider your website as the centerpiece. Use it as the place where the meat is, content that can be alluded to in social media but where time and space may not be as available to digest it. Then use it as the place to continue the conversation and ultimately, to generate leads and close deals. Case in point, Twitter with it’s 140 characters is used extensively for linking people to content – why wouldn’t you post that kind of content on your website?
2. It Cuts Across Demographics – this study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project says it better than I can. When you look at the activities internet users of ALL ages engages in, you’ll see that many of them take place on websites – including those that are being undertaken by the youngest demographic tracked – Millennials. The activities that are consistently on the rise across all demographic groups include
- Search engine use
- Seeking health information
- Getting news
- Buying products
- Making travel reservations or purchases
- Doing online banking
- Looking for religious information
- Rating products, services, or people
- Making online charitable donations
- Downloading podcasts
Do these groups care WHERE they perform the activities? Not in terms of the form of digital media. They just want what they want from what they consider the most reliable source which, more often than not, is currently going to be a website.
3. It’s Where The “Action” Is – I’m using action loosely here, but what I mean is that the online population with the most disposable income grew up digitally with websites and still uses them more so than social media. This group extends to Gen X, which is as young as 35. So even as more GenXers and Boomers use social and other forms of digital media, perhaps to detriment of websites, it will likely be a decade or so before one can say that the website is dead (or close to it.)
4. History Speaks – the pundits love us to think that social media for example is SO DIFFERENT than every other form of digital media ever that there are totally new rules. Really? Wasn’t VCRS going to kill the movies? Weren’t Websites going to put newspapers out of business? Indeed, many years later, we are seeing evidence of the predictions, and the same is likely to hold true for websites, but I would suggest it will be close to a decade before the website as we know it is laid to rest.
5. Some Industries Just Say No – believe what you may about retailers moving e-commerce to Facebook, but can you see a Bank allowing their customers to access account information via Facebook? Perhaps Facebook can be a gateway to that information, but I can almost guarantee you that the information itself will be housed on a bank website NOT Facebook, it can’t possibly meet government regulators requirements and it likely won’t be a good business proposition for them to ever do so.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe the website will change, dramatically, over the coming years. It will become an activity and information hub, it will be a content syndicator, it will become an enabler of brand colloquy and therefore influence. Above all, it will become more of a dynamic and fluid entity than even the social networks it is now “competing” with for its customers hearts and minds.
The timeframe? I’m suggesting a decade but since I’m the one who proclaimed that AOL would die a horrible death back in 1996, you may want to get that insight from elsewhere 🙂
So what do you think?