Imagine a future where to be a rapid commercial success, you don't need to spend time, effort or money on building and showcasing your website. And where even if you do, your target customers may have stopped looking to find you there.
According to Facebook's director of product design, John Lax (who may arguably have a not so small self interest in this vision of the future), you may not have to imagine this for much longer. In fact, if you're starting out with a business today, you might want to start applying this approach today.
Intrigued? I certainly was. Lax shared this future vision at a very recent design event where he was speaking alongside design experts from Google and Netflix in Sydney, Australia.
His position is based on the fact that once you enter the mobile accessible world (where most smart and successful businesses have a presence in some shape or form these days), there are really only 2 dominant platforms: Android and iOS.
Within these platforms, pretty much mirror image ecosystems exist. Each of these contains apps. According to Lax, most people only use a maximum of 10 apps on their smart devices - the magic number being around 7.
Although there is a degree of variation amongst those 7, there's a strong likelihood these days that one of those will be Facebook, another Instagram. We can probably reasonably anticipate Google's presence there too.
So what does mean for all those 100's of 1,000's of businesses busily building apps today? Add these to the several million apps already in existence and Lax points out that these businesses really have to ask themselves what are their prospects of being one of those magic 7?
The interesting trend that Lax shares however, is the growing recognition by many savvy businesses that what matters is to be inside the magic 7, building a presence within them, rather than outside of them.
There's a neat logic to this. For if the majority of the world is in fact interacting inside these ecosystems, doesn't it make sense that this is where you and your business should be interacting?
Might we reach a stage where today's webpage is tomorrow's Facebook page? Or it is at least a diminished host playing second fiddle to Facebook's commandeering of the current on-line URL based 'shop window' role?
With more and more businesses shifting to Facebook and Instagram as now respected and valuable platforms for business showcasing and with Twitter, LinkedIN and others like Snapchat also holding court in the networking and sign posting space, it's no longer an incredible prospect.
Indeed, though once considered to be informal, lifestyle networks only, today, pages and presences on these channels have rapidly become ever more populated, elaborate and now play host to businesses large and small, established and newbie. You could even go so far as to say they are now 'must have' for businesses serious about staying relevant and sustainable for the next decade and beyond.
To a large extent, this transformation has been driven by content, which continues to reign as the recognised 'king' when it comes to attracting new business and in demonstrating expertise and differentiation.
Many businesses have turned part publishing house, now sharing (rather than hoarding or archiving) information that draws on their expertise, observations, connections and experiences in order to gain credibility, grow engaged followers and in reasonably short time, to hopefully convert these followers to willing and loyal customers.
These most popular ecosystems and the magic number apps within them have become brilliant content publishing hosts, enabling the sharing of what is hosted via many other communications channels and becoming the influencers and bench-markers of how today's business is now communicated and transacted. Many businesses within them have taken this one step further to sell, market and trade from their hosted pages, treating them, to all intents and purposes, as mini websites.
Interestingly, Lax doesn't see these developments as an overnight revolution or a 'wipe-out' scenario for websites. But he does point out that when you look at the data, you can definitely see this phenomenon growing and he believes we should expect it to continue.
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Law for the online generation starts here.
the time may be ripe to begin lamenting the end of the website. After the dominance of URLs, we're entering the platform era where more design diversity online is not necessarily better, Jon Lax, director of product design at Facebook, suggested at the design event Semi Permanent in Sydney Friday. Increasingly, companies, news outlets and many others are providing their services by building in and on top of outside mobile platforms and operating systems that dictate how they should look. Mashable Australia sat down with Lax after the event to discuss how he sees the future of digital design in an era where Facebook and others act as ...gatekeepers.