The advent of Web 2.0 gave publishing capabilities to those Internet users who could previously only consume. Because little or no coding or web design skills were required in order to actually put something on the Internet, putting things online was no longer just for nerds.
If you want to publish articles, sign up at Medium.com. If you want to sell, go to eBay or uDemy or Kajabi, or – I’m going to show my age – ClickBank.
So there seems to be a growing school of thought, particularly among under 25s, that having your own website is old-school and unnecessary.
I don’t think so. You may think that as a web designer, I would say that, but that’s not really true. I am a purveyor of tech solutions. And if it’s not websites it will be something else and I’d better start learning that. But the truth is, I don’t think the website will ever really stop being a useful thing.
When smartphones first became a thing, the App Store and Google Play were big for a while. And they still have their place. The tech media were asking the question of whether apps would replace websites. They didn’t.
Besides from which (nerdy insider information) a lot of apps just access the website that they are the app of via an API feed, so the app cannot exist without the original website anyway.
Apps have their place and there are equally very good reasons why many businesses might want apps. But think about it – when you want to find out about something, do you really want to go to the trouble of downloading an app in order just to learn about the thing? I’d rather not. What does everybody do? They Google it. And google search results are full of web pages.
So what then, about web 2.0 properties that you can publish on but don’t actually belong to you?
I’d say they’re a great starting point for the non-tech savvy, if they don’t want to spend money on a website. In the proof of concept stage of a venture, it makes sense to do everything as cheaply as possible.
But as you progress, there is major value in having the central HQ of your brand or business on a web property that you, as the entrepreneur, fully control. And having your own website is the only way you can guarantee that.
All of the Web 2.0 properties from social networks to blogging platforms to eCommerce platforms, have rules. There are things they allow their user bases to do and things those users have no control over. Additionally, changes and new rules come into force regularly.
I wouldn’t want my business to be completely at the mercy of a billion dollar company whose best interests will not always align with mine. Sure, there may be a period of time when I get more business from Instagram or Clubhouse than from my website for a while, but these relationships tend to last for as long as that’s the case. If it ever stops being the case, I’m going to want my website to still be there to fall back on.
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