The world’s first website turned 21 this month >> encouraging us to reflect on the internet as a whole and what it has meant for the business world.
The world’s first website was created by CERN physicist Tim Berners-Lee in the Swiss Alps. The site’s original purpose was to explain just what the internet was and explained how users could create their own websites. Berners-Lee continued on to develop a number of tools necessary for the functionality of the World Wide Web and are still used today: HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) and HyperText Markup Language (HTML).
Today, the indexed web contains at least 8.09 billion indexed pages and continues to grow.
As more and more content and web pages are added and indexed by search engines every day, as internet accessibility improves and as internet users grow in size, surprisingly half of small businesses still don’t have a website >> But for those small businesses who do have a live website, it can generally be classified in one of the three following categories:
- Informational: a brochure-like website that provides information on products/services and contact information for the business.
- Interactive: dedicated to building online presence, this website may contain articles, forums, blogs, company updates and social media aspects.
- E-Commerce: designed specifically to convert website visitors to customers by allowing customers to purchase directly from the website.
Impact of Websites on Business
Twenty years ago, businesses opened a shop, put signs in the front window, advertised in the local paper and waited for the local customers to stop in and buy their goods. We’ve spent the past twenty years harnessing the power of the internet, building websites and changing the way we do business. Creating a successful website has had a positive effect on business:
- Geographic Expansion: small businesses are no longer limited to selling locally, with a website you can easily reach national or international customers
- Information Exchange: potential customers can visit your website to gain information about your location, trading hours, goods/services and contact information.
- Marketing: you can use your website to build a database of current and potential customers to interact with via email campaigns, social media, webinars, etc.
- Sales: by integrating e-commerce into your website you can effectively create a low-cost alternative sales channel
Future of Websites
In May 2012, 10% of worldwide hits/page views came from a handheld mobile device according to StatCounter >> In only a few short years, mobile browsing will outshine desktop browsing which leaves us wondering, of the 50% of small businesses who currently have a website, how many also have a mobile website?
On the 21st anniversary month of the first website ever created, we wonder if Tim Berners-Lee ever imagined that his “web” of linked pages would grow to the point of being the cornerstone for search, discovery, communication, information and business- and not only that, but be accessible in the palm of our hands at all times, each and every day?