More articles by Jesse Shannon
Putting Web 2.0 to Work
In addition, the comment feature creates an instant mini-forum where everyone can offer their thoughts, suggestions, praise or concerns on each step of the campaign’s ordering process. When changes do occur, it’s a simple matter of uploading the new image, replacing the old one in the set, and notifying everyone of the latest change. And best of all, Flickr provides all these solutions for free, so testing things out is a no-brainer.
Continuing the collaboration in business angle is 37 Signals’ excellent project management solution, Basecamp. Like Flickr, one of Basecamp’s greatest strengths is the simple fact that it gives things like messages, files and lists one and only one place to live. When a conversation must be conducted across more than two participants, email’s reply-all function can have serious limitations, and the potential for a member of the conversation, or a file revision, to get out of step with the group is ever present.
Especially since email has become such a ubiquitous and overused medium, its usefulness as a business tool is actually beginning to be more trouble than its worth. How much productivity is lost to people working off of old information, or having to resend that proposal because the receiver can’t seem to find it in their endlessly overflowing inbox?
Basecamp offers an escape from the noise and disorganization of our junkmail-beseiged inboxes by creating a simple, easy to use place for all the information, files, scheduling, and conversations around a particular project to go. Its very structure inspires organization, and the AJAX-powered interface is a great introduction to one of the principles of Web 2.0 websites: highly interactive site tools like drag and drop and no-refresh page updating. Familiarity and use of AJAX-enabled sites like Basecamp (and its personal productivity sibling, Backpack) are the driving force behind web users’ increasing demands for web experiences that are as intuitive and dynamic as their desktop experience.
Basecamp’s somewhat narrow focus on messaging, scheduling, file-sharing, and collaborative documents allows it to avoid the feature-glut that makes other project management solutions more unwieldy and hard to learn than their worth. This make it simple and make it work right away mentality is a hallmark of many Web 2.0 offerings.
And while Basecamp’s pricing options allow for scalability up to usefulness in considerably large organizations, the service could best be described as the project management solution for organizations that think they are too small to warrant a project management solution. Like Flickr (and most Web 2.0 services) it is free to try, but once you get a few members of your organization playing along, it won’t be long before you’ll need to upgrade to a paying plan to really put things to work.
Migrating your processes over to web services will take some getting used to, and should be done a little bit at a time. Luckily, this is exactly how these services are set up, so there are plenty of opportunities to get your feet wet with the service options before making any drastic switchovers or process changes. However, if you do take those first small steps, I warn you that it will not be long before you become the Web 2.0 evangelizer in your company or organization, imploring everyone to sign up and enjoy the productivity. Its not just that these tools make your online working life more organized and simple, it’s also that they make your work life more fun.
Once you begin to employ simple and higher quality interfaces into your everyday work life, the reduction in annoyance and stress of your day-to-day tasks will be surprising and significant. And besides the interface advantages, you will be joining a movement that is not just focused on productivity, but the boundless opportunities and advancements that come with efficient, enjoyable collaboration. In the end, it is this movement towards fun and intuitive web-enabled collaboration that is responsible for the incredible adoption of Web 2.0 and the changing face of our business. Our customers seem to get it, but more importantly, do you?
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