The Evolution of Web Sites

Over the past 15 years, as the Web has evolved, the web sites have gone through these generations. What’s likely to be next in the future of what the Web will be? This article describes the Web so far and what form it will likely assume.

  • 1993-1997: Generation 1.0
    • These web sites can essentially be considered digital versions of printed newspapers, magazines and books.
    • Like with the printed products, the consumer is primarily a reader and interactivity is generally limited to filling out and submitting forms.
    • Content and design are the most important part.
    • Product = Content + Design
    • Examples: Most news and other content sites in the 1990s.
  • 1997-2004: Generation 1.5
    • These web sites are similar to what interactive CD-ROM based software used to be in the 1990s.
    • The consumer is a user (as in user of software). There can be significant interactivity between the web site and the user. Interactivity between users is generally limited to discussion boards and marketplace activities.
    • Product = Technology + Content + Design
    • Examples: Online multimedia sites, online gaming sites.
  • 2004-present: Generation 2.0
    • The concept of user-submitted-content grows stronger. Users in the virtual community of the site publish, share and view photos, videos and text.
    • The consumer is a community participant.
    • Product = People (User Community) + Technology + Content + Design
    • Examples: YouTube, del.icio.us, Wikipedia
  • 2006-future: Generation 3.0 (prediction)
    • Concept of user-submitted-interactivity / user-submitted-programming arises. The users create, own, sell, share, alter and use interactive objects in the virtual environment.
    • Consumers are co-developers.
    • Product = Community Developed Interactivity + People (User Community) + Technology + Content + Design
    • Examples: Virtual environments and ecosystems like Second Life and Kaneva.

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