“No! There’s Iconistan. (Have you seen it?)
It’s the busiest new land that we know,
From the big, well know icons that populate it;
To the obscure, unknown icons below.”
“There’s a land where the reader experience is nameless,
And the links all run who knows where;
There are icons that are erring and aimless,
And icons that just hang by a hair.”
“Some say Webmasters were tired when they made it;
Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
For no land on the web — and I’m one.”
At Web 2.0 and Om Malik’s and Niall Kennedy’s Widgets Live Conference, there was a lot of discussion and strategizing around widgets. Many of these widgets are activated when web readers click on the little icons they find at the bottom of article pages – a space we’ve started calling Iconistan. As an example. please take a look at Gigaom (http://gigaom.com/2006/11/27/wifi-phones/) – You’ll notice several icons at the bottom of each article: Digg, Stumble Upon, De.lic.ious, RSS and more — what’s interesting is the increasing number of places these icons are showing up and how little they do (most ask the reader to sign in, fill out forms, etc.) and, if anything at all, to add to the reader experience. Most often, readers don’t even understand what these funny little words mean. Yet, they show up – you already find them on mainstream sites, and in 2007, you’ll find them everywhere. The battle for inclusion next to articles/ blog posts is going to really heat up next year – it’s already started. To win inclusion, we believe you have to do two things: enhance the reader experience and drive additional page-views that can be monetized.
You’ll also notice the Sphere It! icon displayed with the above list – in contrast, it connects the reader to contextually relevant articles, blog posts and blogs. The ability to join the conversation is seamlessly integrated with Sphere never losing a reader to the dreaded sign in box or a constant labyrinth of links…We developed the Sphere Contextual Widget to achieve the above user experience and business model goals better than anyone. Sphere drives additional page-views (when readers click on the Sphere It! icon, that counts as a page-view; secondly, Sphere offers links to related posts from the journalist/ bloggers content repository, resulting in additional page-views for their site as well as enhanced navigation). Most importantly, Sphere adds to the reader experience, enabling readers to connect to additional content that adds to the discussion.
To date Sphere has partnered with Dow Jones Online Market Watch and Dow Jones Market Watch Blogs along with 50 of the top tech micro-publishers such as Techcrunch, GigaOm, ZDNet Blogs, Techdirt, O’reilly Radar, Battelle Searchblog and Infectious Greed. We’re trying to make Iconistan* a great place to visit.
*Iconistan (the title of this post was given to me by Kourosh Karimkhany at Conde Nast – thanks Kourosh!).