How much Web 2.0 are you using?

If you’re trying to build a successful web service, it’s important that you understand that you aren’t just competing for users and attention, but also for the time it takes for a user to get interested enough in your product to return frequently. The truth is, for all the services and applications out there, even the most voracious computer user isn’t likely to rely on more then half a dozen different applications (at the most) on a regular basis.
For example, I am on a computer no fewer the eight hours a day. Rarely does a notable company launch a product without me being aware via the constant stream of news that I have at my disposal. I consume more e-dust in a day then most computer users do in a month. But when it comes to defining how many services I use regularly, and how much I am wedded to them, the list is small. Very small. Here is a list of online applications in the Web 2.0 space that I interact with….

Daily

  • GMail – Mail client
  • Netvibes – RSS management
  • PBWiki – Wiki for managing the staff I work with. I also maintain a couple pages as an online notepad for myself.
  • 30 Boxes – Calendar for managing the staff I work with.
  • WordPress – not necessarily Web 2.0, but it’s an online-only app I use for both work and fun.
  • Live365 – For listening to the radio at work.
  • Joost – I have a beta account and am looking forward to seeing how they unfold, so the grade is “incomplete” here.

Weekly

  • YouTube – Perhaps twice a week I’ll end up watching a video from YouTube that was posted in a blog or received via email. I do not have a username and account.
  • Woot – When I have a second, I’ll scoot over to Woot to see what’s for sale. I keep meaning to add their feed to my Netvibes page. No username and account here either.
  • Google Search – Perhaps half a dozen times a week I’ll use Google to locate information. That said, I do not rely on it nearly as heavily as many folks and try to sign out of Gmail whenever I perform a search; the less iBigBrother knows, the better.
  • Wikipedia – I bypass Google all together and go to Wikipedia when I need facts or core information.

That’s about it. Aside from MyBlogLog, which I am always logged in to but passively use, I wouldn’t consider myself a person devoted to any service or application. The list is LONG of sites that I have signed up for, played around with, and never re-visited (Ning, Shopify, MySpace, LinkedIn, Remember the Milk, Sitekreator, etc). I was on the payroll of a somewhat popular local-review site / social network for a few months last year, but rarely return to visit. I’m a paid moderator of a sports-based message board, but I don’t really consider that as being a Web 2.0 application (even though it is based on user-generated content). And I visit Digg pretty regularly, although I have no desire to ever have an account and participate in the community.

After compiling the list above, I realize that no matter how much I stay aware of available products in the web-o-sphere, and no matter how much many of those products would help me in a practical way, the fact remains that I rely on very few of them. The applications I use daily are for (respectively) communicating, getting news, making announcements in the workplace, managing timelines in the workplace, blogging, and listening to music.

When I look at the list of logins and passwords I have to others sites, I see a common theme emerge: the sites I signed up for but do not use simply do not fill a daily need. While that sounds simple, it hits at the crux of what separates essential applications from interesting applications. Web based services and products that succeed and ultimately profit fill specific needs – the need to find information, the need to communicate and interact with others, the need to store information, etc. Applications that don’t fill a specific need won’t be around for long.

Is the lesson a bit redundant? Perhaps. But when you are dialing in the goal of your own projects, it is essential to your survival that you not only address a need, but that there be someone – a LOT of someones – on the other end of the pipe for whom that need is addressed.

The pool of potential users is virtually unlimited.  But their time, attention, and focus is extremely narrow.  If you have dreams of long term success and viability, it is essential that you make your product indispensable in their lives.

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One Response

  1. Good stuff, and a good tip for the aspiring web application developer.

    I’ve posted a similar list of my fav web applications here: http://blog.lootmaar.com/?p=25

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