About a week ago I was attending the Web 2.0 Expo Europe in Berlin, a
conference discussing the current and the future web from four major
perspectives: "Development", "design and user experience", "strategy and
business" and "marketing and community". Being a freelance web developer
and co-founder of a web start-up, I found myself taking seat in all
tracks but "marketing and community" quite balanced, trying to get
interdisciplinary recommendations and the lessons from successful
players. Cross-posting in Hannes' start.up blog, here's what I found
was the essence for his target audience, me:
First off, recapitulate if your idea is innovative and not a clone of
sth. already existing. Check your competition. If yours is close to a
competitor's idea, make sure you're able to explain what makes the
difference. If there's no difference, don't waste you're time. Or don't
waste your life, some of the speakers tended to speak more emotional.
Think about your team. Are you a team? "Business plans and conditions
change, people don't change that fast", to quote an investor. Be able to
take feedback and listen. "Why does anybody care? Why will real people
use it, not only your coder friends?", Reshma Sohoni (Seedcamp). Be
focussed. Be enthusiastic and passioned, and be able to share it. Be
globally visible. Think about other markets than North America and other
languages than english. In terms of internet users, Asia almost doubles
North America, followed by Europe. Build network effects.
Make sure your data can be distributed. Expose data using RESTful Web
Service. Offer different content representations, at least JSON or XML.
Offer syndication formats like RSS or ATOM whereever you can. "The most
successful apps are fundamentally powered by data.", Dion Hinchcliffe.
He mentioned later on, that distributing data doesn't need to be a
freebie - You can meter API usage and charge for usage. Or add ads to
the API results. With a good API you might be able to care about the
data only and crowdsource the user interfaces. Yes, interfaces. Plural.
Mobile web is emerging! User experience matters. Let the experience be
excellent. Think about the ease of sharing experience in the social web,
both the good and the bad. And favorize simplicity. As Albert Einstein,
who was unfortunately not attending the expo, said: "Make everything as
simple as possible, but not simpler.".
Use open standards. OpenID for user authentication, OAuth for API
authorization. Microformats describe your content semantically. Use
OpenSocial if you're running a social network site. Apache Shindig helps
Technology: Be agile. Use what works well for you. But I still think you
really have to know the tools out there, I'm not a big fan of the "It's
a problem when it's a problem"-approach. Beside relational databases,
the document based expando databases emerge with Apache's CouchDB,
Amazon's SimpleDB and Google's BigTable, build to scale. You have to at
least think of scaling and fundamental design decisions early. Build
you're architecture message driven and use servers like Amazon EC2
instances to react on altering needs and to stay cost-effective. Pay as
you go. Have a look at Google's App Engine, which cuts off system
administration and lets you deploy in the google cloud. And have a look
at its restrictions.