Are websites done?

13 Oct

Is the20081028_RomeBurning all-powerful Website about to collapse in the unforgiving flames of progress? There are some pretty convincing stats around about the decline of website traffic amongst major brands. Check out these charts. This is happening at a time when Social Media sites are exploding.

What’s the relationship between the two?

Evidently people want to pass the time in more friendly environments. Oh websites can be beautiful and fun, but they’re desperately lonely places, bereft of companionship, empathy and jocularity.

A few months ago I wrote about the need to have a blog on your website in order to gain search engine traction. It seems increasingly that corporate websites will have to do more than simply offer a blog: they will need to be places where social buzz can take root.

It doesn’t seem imminent that websites will disappear altogether, what with all the information they can communicate about the products and services they sell. But they’ll surely need to reinvent themselves to pull people off the social media sites, where they are increasingly hanging out and connecting and getting opinions about the very products the websites are pushing.

I go to Twitter when I’m looking for travel info before I go to destination websites. If I want to know about the new Adidas, I’ll ask my buds online first.

They don’t call it Social Media for nothing.


13 Responses to “Are websites done?”

  1. Trevor Wingert October 13, 2009 at 4:17 pm #

    Interesting thought. I think it’s the result of the transformation of the web from “being” to “doing”, of which social media is a facet. I do not visit websites at all these days – almost all of my content consumption time is spent with Google Reader, so content consumption is way higher and more efficient while site visits are non-existent. I use more tools online, too.

    Perhaps the sites cited for the traffic study were old school “being” sites? And maybe people are settling into accomplishing (“doing”) things online rather than testing, exploring, and consuming, and using intermediation again in the form of social media (in all it’s incarnations), after years of disintermediation?

    This requires more consideration and research into online behavior on my part, but I believe you’ve come pretty close to nailing it…

  2. October 13, 2009 at 4:29 pm #

    Really? The graphs look like they document traffic at Disney, Dell, Brand Whatever vs. Twitter, Facebook, Hulu etc. That’s like Company vs. Media. Hmmmm…

  3. dougbrowncreative October 13, 2009 at 4:36 pm #

    It’s only a guess Amy, but the correlation seems pretty strong. People are online more then ever, but less on websites. How has your personal time evolved online? I know I spend less time on sites and more time in “spaces”.

  4. dougbrowncreative October 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm #

    Trevor I found this insight about “being” vs. “doing” sites very interesting. Can you let us know where your examination of online behaviour takes you?

  5. October 13, 2009 at 5:05 pm #

    OK. I’m going to take the other side for a moment. I was really surprised to see the core argument posed as it was…

    “For each brand you should find that visitors between 2007 and 2009 are trending down, or flat at best.”

    Really? Do the years 2007 to 2009 ring a bell for any other reason? Is it really evidence of the end of destination web or merely a symptom of everything else going on in and after The Great Recession?

    I’m not denying that people, perhaps even myself, spend more time elsewhere on the web. But come on, can you compare com to Twitter? It’s not even apples to oranges. It’s apples to orangutans. I wish, instead, that the writer had shown evidence that’s germane to his/her argument.

    I also took the writer up on their invitation to visit the Google trends list and admittedly only looked up one of my clients. Their traffic is fine. So I won’t be advising clients to abandon ship anytime soon.

  6. dougbrowncreative October 13, 2009 at 5:15 pm #

    You make some good points Amy, but the Recession kicked in during the fall of 2008, which leaves one and a half years unaccounted for in your reasoning…

    But I think what Trevor was getting at, as I tried to suggest too, was that people are more inclined to engage in online activities that provide more than vested information.

    As you admitted, you’re spending more elsewhere. In conversation on blogs for example…

  7. October 13, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    Not in the US. It kicked off in 2007.

  8. October 13, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    I’ve spent time on blogs for many years now and the occasional forum. But taking me out of it, it’s undeniable that F-Book, Twitter et al are where many people spend part of their time online, that and with apps.

    But… do you guys really foresee your clients selling, branding, winning new customers over with social media? Not that I was a big proponent of “being” websites either. Most websites are like brochures that just sit out in a ginormous netherworld. But what has social media done for you (and your clients) lately?

  9. Rod Phillips October 14, 2009 at 8:42 am #

    I am new (within the last 3 months) to Social Media and have traditionally done very little ‘surfing’. Having said that I believe that Social Media and websites don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
    Consider that most of the sites on the chart were built at a time when only early adopters were accessing social media, and to your point, Amy are gigantic brochures.
    In my opinion the nature of Social Media is the two-way conversation. This projects a companies or persons personality. I believe that the a website that embodies the ‘personality’ and allows for the two way conversation will be visted at a greater rate than will ‘single’ use websites.
    Note that I say all this in the absence of the ‘recession’ debate. I think that blaming the recession is too easy. What is coming out of the recession is a basic truth that has always held power, just in varying degrees; people will buy (ideas, products, services) from people they trust far more often than they will buy from companies. If website can develop conversations, express a real persona, and offer expert advice, then it will not just be visited more often, they will be constantly engaged, and that will be the difference maker down the road.

  10. October 14, 2009 at 9:10 am #


    You bring up some good points. And are on something that really puzzles me. So if the younger generation (for lack of a better phrase) who surf the web and engage with social media are somewhat suspicious of “companies” or corporations. What are we doing as advertisers telling our clients to follow their customers into that space?

  11. Rod Phillips October 14, 2009 at 10:30 am #

    I don’t have answer to the terms with which you posed your question. However I would say this, ‘companies’ will have to become less like ‘companies’ and more like community members for any strategy to engage the Neo & younger generation.
    Companies that want to continue to act like a company and have a one-way interface will be rejected by the ‘Neo’ generation.
    People make up companies and culture. If this is true then why can’t companies change like people and cultures do?
    A traditional strategy will have dimishing returns. This much is true. Any and all companies that plan to exist for multi-generations will have to plan a strategy that has increasing returns. As far as advertising goes, this will mean looking less like a company and looking like Jim or Jane who happen to work at the company.

  12. Brad Felt September 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm #

    Wired magazine recently did a big article on this topic. The graphs explain things a bit better as to where people are spending their time.

  13. dougbrowncreative September 29, 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    I hate being so far ahead of Wired again.

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