The end of the website as we know it... and I feel fine

I'm not going to declare that the web is dead - that's old news. I am, however, going to take a stab at the website.

I'm not going to declare that the web is dead – that's old news. I am, however, going to take a stab at the website.

Watching the website evolve since the days of Netscape has been much like watching a child grow and mature. In the early years, companies were rushing to get a website online without much forethought into what it should do, how it could help meet business objectives, and who the end consumer was.

These nascent forms of websites were like a newborn – they had untapped potential, but limited motor skills. And as they grew and entered their “tweens,” they became slightly obnoxious. Remember the days of music-enabled websites and Flash animation? Enough said.

Websites are now teenagers who have discovered that they're no longer the most popular kids in school – the Homecoming King and Queen are now social media and mobile.

With brands leveraging Facebook as a microsite, LinkedIn as a brochure, and Twitter as a direct mail and customer service channel, the argument can be made that brands do not need a website. After all, why invest in a website that requires ongoing marketing efforts (and dollars) to drive traffic to a static experience when brands can set up shop on Facebook with the potential to immediately tap into 600 million people? And social media has removed the gatekeepers from the equation, allowing brands to speak directly with their audiences.

And if social media made the website uninteresting… mobile is making it irrelevant. Why create a website with volumes of content, bells and whistles when people are increasingly viewing your information on the small screens of a smartphone or tablet? And memorable and enjoyable branded mobile experiences occur not within mobile websites, but through apps.

A large part of me wants to root for the website because I watched it grow up over the last 16 years and would like to see it graduate from college, get married, and have kids. And I know the website will always be around in some form – we'll just have to see what that form will be.

Nada Arnot is SVP and chief digital officer at RF Binder.

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