Websites are Wild Beasts: A Wrangler's Guide

July 1, 2009

A website Beast, shown sleeping here, is dangerous when woken.

As a biology major gone web developer, I though I’d offer an organic perspective: websites are wild Beasts. Come with me on an adventure into the Web Wide World and I’ll share my knowledge on wrangling these Beasts.

Understand Your Beast

Websites are simple Beasts. They compete, evolve, and, ultimately, live out their existence in a place known as the World Wide Web. Thriving in this world doesn’t mean survival and reproduction. It means pageviews. Thousands of pageviews.

To compete for these page-views, Beasts must evolve. While Darwin’s evolution is driven by an unintelligent natural selection, website evolution is purposely driven by intelligent, web developer demi-gods and occurs at a much faster pace.

The Google (genus .com) is considered by many to be the largest, most powerful of the web beasts.

Web beasts live in an ecosystem

Web Beasts live together in specific ecosystems, such as the jungle of non-profits, the plains of political campaigns, or the steppes of social media. A Beast living on an island with no outside connections (often called “links”) dies. Conversely, the more links a web beast maintains, the more likely it is to thrive. All Beasts must occupy a useful niche in their ecosystems to thrive. Some offer unique services, humorous original content, or a convenient way for humans to communicate. Furthermore, the niche occupied by a beast is constantly threatened by competition, which brings up the next point.

The competition evolves

Ecosystems change overtime and new beasts come on to the scene better equipped to thrive. For example, search engine’s criteria have shifted, blogs have revolutionized the news ecosystem and the Twitter Beast is redefining the nature of social media ecosystems. In addition, new standards of design sweep the World Wide Web and your beast begins to look outdated. Essentially, it’s a fact of life that beasts become outdated every few years. Fortunately, I have some tips on how to better keep your beast up to speed with the pack.

  1. Ensure your Beast is born with a decent content management system. This will allow you to update content and news on each of your pages. And having fresh content attracts pageviews.
  2. Feed your Beast only the freshest content. A blog is an excellent source of powerful content.
  3. Connect your Beast to social media through such mega-Beasts as Facebook or Twitter.

But a Beast’s time does come. Therefore, I recommend having a team of experts on hand to put down your old Beast and craft a new one.

Forget the leash, grab a lasso

The Web Wide World has come a long way since multi-celled tables. Beasts are now dynamic creatures with features such as server-side scripts and database functionality. Beasts are quicker and more powerful than ever before. They have helped elect presidents and empowered revolutionary political movements. A few final words of advice: Beasts serve humans by providing useful information. Figure out what “useful” will mean tomorrow and hone your Beast accordingly.

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