According to Alexa, which tracks usage statistics for websites, as of Nov 2010 the top 10 visited websites in the US are:
What is fascinating about this list is that out of these top 10 sites (and we are talking billions of visitors) 6 of them do NOT CREATE ANY CONTENT. They are "Web 2.0" sites, or sites that provided users tools to create and publish content for others to view.
Google, MySpace, Live, Ebay, YouTube, and Blogger all rely on users creating content--whether it is uploading video, selling an auction item, creating a blog or a personal page, the most visited sites are those which engage users to "share" their experiences and content.
THE OLD MODEL
The web used to about experts. Lets say that you were an "expert" on your arts organization--you know The Boston Ballet better then everybody else. So you would create a website touting your knowledge. At BostonBallet.com people could read a history, see photos, order tickets, see the upcoming performance calendar etc.
But there was very little interactivity between the user and the website--perhaps I could fill out a form to send a comment to the organization or request a brochure, but as far as me affecting the site in someway, I was just another visitor.
THE NEW MODEL
Today's web-savvy generation wants the web to be an interactive experience. They want you to know that they have been to your site, and more importantly, many want to contribute to your content. In addition, people are more likely to believe what "others" have written about your organization then what you say about your organization.
Ponder on this for a moment, you decide you may want to see a show by a local arts organization, you visit the organization's website to read about the show--which of course gives you a marketing blurb about it being "an exciting night of theatre."
A friend tells you they saw the same show and thought it was excellent, and that you should definitely go see it.
Which would influence you more?
New Web 2.0 sites use the following features: