I have been very fortunate to be able to work steadily as the web and the internet changed the way we do…well, just about everything. While I don’t feel that every change endured was a necessarily good one, there has been a steady move toward a different way of life. It rides on the undercurrent of constant change that has been soft-boiling in the modern world, especially strong since transistors replaced tubes to power all our machines.
The main market shifts in which I have been both witness and participant, are based in large part by the rise of the personal computer and then the convenience of cellphones. Both things changed the world and the way we operate within it – and it has been a fun, and always interesting ride when seen from the inside.
The Old Days
When I started online, Google was still an infant, and cellphones were not to be invented for a few more years. I had a beeper in my pocket, and my first flip phone was still being designed somewhere. Search engines were rudimentary at best – pretty easy to figure out if you had enough sites to monitor in competitive spots, and could isolate the factors affecting ranking. I wouldn’t go as far as saying you could win with simple keyword saturation, but it wasn’t too far removed from that.
Links were not hard to get, and the potential everywhere online was enormous. We all felt it for sure.
I remember in the winter of 2004-05, it was one of the last times I went to Danny Sullivan’s Search Engine Strategies, a big conference back then, and one that is still going on annually. But the sweaty topic then, was the rise of the cellphone, and the impact it might have on search, websites, and the way we were all doing business. We had no idea really, what was to come. We all knew it was going to be huge, but no one had any true idea.
Evolution happens in real time – it is not something you can see. It is typically only in retrospect that we can see the wide arc and the true impact of change. In this particular case, change happened so rapidly, that remembering a time without a cellphone in my pocket gets a little harder now every year.
A great illustration of this change, to me, is seen in the collection of personal pictures. Cellphones now allow us to take them all the time, and we do – collecting dozens of moments every day. They are increasingly better images every year too, as technology improves and phones get smarter. Yet how many pictures do we print and therefore, extend an actual life to? How many of them are truly just fleeting and pushed off to a folder, and will simply die as we upgrade storage and clean out old files? It’s something to ponder, perhaps.
In the 70s, we’d take fewer pictures and videos, but then have them in drawers for decades. We could reach out and touch a part of the past, but the moments saved were much more rare. It is simply a different kind of world today, and computers and cellphones are at the core of it all, for sure.
Professionally, I think it was and remains an incredible time to be coming of age, and I am pretty grateful for all I have seen, and been able to do so far…and I ain’t done yet!
Roll With It
There have been countless lessons along the weird and winding path I have chosen. Change is the only constant, for real. Yet I consider myself incredibly lucky to be involved as I am, in helping businesses realize more web success. I keep learning, and the world keeps changing – it is a beautiful thing.
As the economy has taken different turns and hit snags and bumps along the way, being a freelance writer and web developer has never slowed down. There is a lot to understand about the online universe, and it continues to evolve, but some core elements (quality, engagement, sharing) never really change.
We shifted (are still shifting?) from desktops to cellphones, and though the change is still rather slow, the effect is profound. At SES in 2004, we saw it coming for sure…but no one predicted what would happen in a specific way. It is now 16 years later, and we are still guessing at it. We simply roll with it, and adapt.
Adapting Increases Success
Success online is typically measured the same way today as it was in the early days: through increased levels of user engagement, a wider net being cast to find new users, and of course, in the claiming of some big fat profit margins. What is different now, might be the way you approach harvesting these fruits; the how has changed, while the why stays the same.
So in the past you may have sent out mailers or cold-called and relied on building new address lists for attracting potential customers. You’d build a landing page that was catering to a desktop layout for mobile was not really much of a concern, but achieving a fluid cross-browser compatibility was a daily chore. Apple and Mac didn’t play nice for years, and IE was often all on its own in terms of display. CSS was emerging as a solid answer to tie it together, yet wasn’t a common solution. Setting it all up might take a few days or even a week or longer, for sure.
To reach the same type of success today you might do a simple social media campaign with email sign-up prompts…and while the result could be the same, how you get there online is dependent on a completely different set of insights, skills and costs. To me, it makes a nice way to see progress in the rearview…while we spent many hours ironing out the technical end of things as the web was growing, it now comes as easy as a couple smart clicks, and choosing the right service provider. Instead of days spent ironing out display inconsistencies, you spend days finding better and deeper ways to connect with an ever more shrewd and discerning public.
In a nutshell, you roll with it.
Come – Join Us
I still look forward to what is happening next. Technology, cellphones and the web are STILL shifting the way we can receive, share and create information – and it is fun to feel like I remain smack dab in the middle of it. Still crazy after all these years, as Paul Simon would say.
I invite you to reach out, and choose to do something better with your website. Maybe you want to revise your web content or email/direct mail campaign materials. You might need some basic company paperwork to be converted to an online form. There is likely some SEO copywriting we can do for you. Maybe it’s time to take control of your social media efforts.
The possibilities are limitless. The potential is enormous.
Align and unify your corporate voice across all media, in every situation. Set up some lead gen that works. Take control and earn more with every step forward.
Articulayers and I have been through a lot together since we got started out here back in 2001. I invite you to join us now, and put that experience to work fortifying your best business plans. Just complete the simple form below, and tell me a little about what you are thinking about. Together, we’ll figure out your best next step.