What The Democratisation Of Web Technology Means For Business

Written by David B. Ascot on October 26th, 2009
by David B. Ascot

A few days ago, I was speaking to a colleague about website design. She told me that back around 1995, there was a government agency which wanted a website built. Not having any idea what the cost involved was, they budgeted $400,000 for the task.

About five years later, a company made the decision that it was time to get online. They did some research and found a web designer who told the company that they could do the job for $40,000!

Fast forward to 2003 – the Internet had started to mature and become a viable revenue-generator for most ‘offline’ product and service businesses. A wide range of web design companies and specialist firms had sprung up in addition to clearing houses such as Elance and Guru.com.

But essentially, what companies were paying for was for geeks to manipulate impenetrable technology to achieve a desired result. It’s been compared to the early days of motoring, when well-to-do families who could afford an automobile would also retain a mechanic to make the thing work and deal with frequent breakdowns.

We have been seeing an increasing trend towards a democratisation of web technology over the last few years, however – and midrange web design firms are being forced into a lower price range (or out of business altogether). It is becoming simpler to design and manage websites with every passing year.

The in-demand, ‘top 20%’ skills that companies will pay for are now shifting toward marketing and analytical skills rather than technical skills.

Here are some of the emerging technologies that are democratising the web

Site Design:

There are tools that allow an absolute novice to put together a reasonable looking webpage in under an hour. There are also countless other platforms connected to simple content management systems that allow you to design your own site without touching any code. These tend to lack advanced functionality, but if it’s a simple brochure site you want they can certainly do the job.

Web Analytics:

Only a few years ago, you needed a specialist in order to pull any useful statistics from your site other than page views. However, there are now a wide variety of cheap or free tools which can give you all of the data you could possibly want.

Optimising the Site:

The analysis of landing page content has also come a long way. The core of conversion optimisation is testing different versions of landing pages; something which used to require specialised tracking software to do.

As someone who provides these kinds of services, I think that a lot of companies feel like what they are paying for is the technical aspects (method) more so than for the marketing aspect (results).

Testing functionality is in the process of becoming freely available via new services. (While they don’t provide particularly advanced functionality, they’re adequate for most uses and are certainly easy to use).

Anyone who offers conversion optimisation is going to need to be sure that the added value of their marketing techniques is sufficient to attract clients as the technical aspects become demystified.

Especially for those on the lower end, analytical and marketing skills are eclipsing technical ones as the services which are the most marketable to their clientele.

While there will always be a place for those who are highly skilled in web technologies, I expect to see a growing number of simpler technical duties being offshored.

The real growth in demand will be for people who can show companies how to profit from the web. Many companies can often tap into greater leverage opportunities by understanding and optimising their online marketing rather than investing in ‘capital works’ projects.

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