The final in this series of O’Reilly’s Web 2.0 patterns is ‘lightweight models and cost-effective scalability’. It refers to services, not packaged software, with cost-effective scalability. Scalability concerns both technical and business aspects. O’Reilly, saying if the model for Web 1.0 companies was “get big fast”, now it’s “small is the new big”, has turned things on its head.
With the development and philosophy of Web 2.0 innovations, much more can be done for less. Associated with this pattern are the buzzwords, viral marketing and viral advertising (for example, Hotmail’s email practice of appending advertising for itself in outgoing mail from its users) and an expansion on this is a viral expansion loop. The benefits include faster time to market and greater adaptability – lower cost economics allows for greater flexibility.
Digg for example launched in December 2004 with $2,000, a single hosted server ($99 monthly), free open source software, and a ‘pay-as-you-go’ outsourced developer ($10 hourly from Elance). By spring of 2006, Digg was serving more than 100 million page views a day, with 90 servers, and a staff size of only 15. Other examples of doing more with less and using viral marketing/advertising are, Google AdSense (advertising solution), Amazon.com, Flickr (photo sharing), YouTube (video sharing), MySpace (social networking), and QOOP (mash-up for photo books and posters).
Less is More – example: Craigslist
Craigslist was started by Craig Newmark in early 1995 as an email mailing list of mainly social events of interest to software and Internet developers in the San Francisco area. It soon grew to accommodate user’s needs such as new job listings and other classified advertisements. The Craigslist website began in 1996 and today the site design is still simple without any pictures. It now incorporates international cities with classified sections such as, community, housing, jobs, for sale, personals, discussion forums, services, and gigs.
“Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster told Wall Street analysts that Craigslist has little interest in maximizing profit, instead it prefers to help users find cars, apartments, jobs, and dates.” It is a popular free online classifieds site which uses the ‘lightweight models and cost-effective scalability’ competently.
In a nutshell, the philosophy behind developing for Web 2.0 is “less is more”. Its objectives are simplicity and efficiency. Software start-up companies are requiring minimal funding to design Web applications that do one thing, do it well, and are not top-heavy with ancillary features. This provides the user with a specialized application that has a very low learning curve. By designing light, adaptable applications, these companies are able to respond quickly to market needs (Kroski 2008 p.4). Success in the Web 2.0 world depends on a successful user experience.
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