Actions Speak Louder Than Words

There are so many conferences about the future of the web that they are now having conferences about the conferences about the future of the web.

I think it is nice that people, who often mostly communicate online, gets to meet each other in person. For me, a conference is a social event, not an action event.

A lot of smart people are talking about things that they know a lot about. Sometimes, they don’t. But it seems that after more than 10 years of conferencing the web pretty much looks the same.

It’s the same business model: ad banners, ad words, maybe pop ups and pop unders (if you are really unlucky). It’s the same design: ads first, usability second (if you are so lucky that anyone paid attention to this matter at all). It’s the same focus on meaningless numbers: how many users, how much traffic. Rarely do we hear about great editors, great content, great ideas.

I wish that some of these people would stop talking and just start building.

Recently, one of the many conferences condensed the challenges of the attendees down to three basic questions:

  • How do we make the best products for digital platforms?
  • How do we make money on them?
  • How do we reach as many users as possible?

To me, there are simple answers to these questions. You don’t need any more conferencing. You need to take action.

First, how do we make the best products?

New applications and approaches to software are reducing time to market and overall costs substantially. Forget everything you know. Look at the market today. Look at frameworks like Ruby, solutions like Podio and concepts like ZenDesk. Kill everything that is old. Make new products using existing applications and tools. Make it cheap. Make it fast. Make sure the design and usability is top notch both on the front end and the back end (this is very important!). This is hardly rocket science (well, now it is, apparently, pun intended). However, very few follow these very simple steps. Also, conduct a maximum of three meetings on a project.

Second, how do we make money on them?

This is always considered the million dollar question. However, in my opinion, it is the easiest to answer. Today, billions of dollars are spent on advertising worldwide on old media, that no one cares about and try to avoid at all cost. Make a swift change of marketing dollars from print and television to new media. Also, if you like the idea of socialism, make the Telcos pay for media traffic. Finally, make some cool products that are so good that users actually want to pay for them. You can add crowdfunding, donations, affiliate programs, micropayments and several other channels for business revenue. It’s not that difficult. You just have to move the marketing dollars. The sooner, the better.

Third, how do we reach as many users as possible?

Listen. You don’t need a big number of inactive or non-paying costumers. What you need is to attract the right people for the right purposes. You want as many “real fans” as possible. They can be your brand ambassadors and save you a lot of money on media. Also, you want people who actually want to buy, read or support your projects. Focus on them, not the big numbers. Once you implement this strategy as your starting point and follow the basic rules listed above the users will begin to show. AND in big numbers. Trust me.

Now, you can skip the conference and head straight to the bar.

But remember: you have to get up early monday morning and start building those web sites.

In silence.

PS. Personally, I do not attend conferences. I am afraid something like this will happen.

Would you like to follow me on Twitter? In English here and in Danish here. Additional Twitter channels in English here and in Danish here.

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