We love sensationalism and every now and then, someone tries to feed this love with something mind-jaring. Listening to some people, you would think that websites, blogs and online stores are dying and will become irrelevant. Don’t believe that lie.
Rob LoCascio is CEO of LivePerson, a company that deploys online messaging and chatbots for businesses. In a TechCrunch piece, he argues that the sudden death of the website is imminent. I carefully read through his submission. The opening of his third paragraph is perhaps the most insightful statement in the article, and it invalidates his own very submission that the website is about to give way to chat systems and die off.
Here is that all-powerful insight from his third paragraph:
When we started building websites in the mid-’90s, we had great dreams for e-commerce. We fundamentally thought all brick-and-mortar stores would disappear and everything dot-com would dominate.
Do you see how this statement shoots him in the foot?
Beaches right now in 2018, he and a handful of others who are building today’s stuff think that websites, blogs and online stores will disappear and everything chat/bot/AI will dominate. 23 years of experience with dot-com has not taught him anything.
Everything That Was Supposed To Die
Let me help you with a quick run through of everything that was supposed to be dead and gone by now.
Printed stuff. 20 years ago, website evangelists predicted the quick death of print media. Websites would make printed stuff irrelevant. Bla-bla.
Radio. Despite the onslaught of streaming websites and then apps, radio has refused to die. Instead, radio has adapted to use websites and apps as complementary services. Norway was the first country to make a move to shut down FM radio, but they aren’t replacing it with audio streaming but with Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB), a digital radio standard for broadcasting digital audio.
And then, we have television. Today more than ever before, as online video-on-demand becomes a thing, digital evangelists are singing about the death of TV. By now, you shouldn’t even believe half the hype. As I type this, new digital TV technologies are being developed and policies backing them are being passed into law globally. There is an ongoing switch from analogue TV systems to digital TV systems. It sure does not look like TV is dying anytime soon.
Text. Have you been hearing digital evangelists sing about the death of text online? Video is the in-thing and is the future. Text-based websites are in trouble. Duh. Wikipedia is not going anywhere. Neither are text-based blogs. Video is exciting, but nowhere near as effective as text in communicating minute details.
Physical stores should have been dead ages ago, if all the noise about their demise was anything to go by. But as we speak, even the biggest online store, Amazon, is opening brick-and-mortar stores. Jumia and Konga will do well to learn a bit from that too.
Websites, Blogs And Online Stores Are Not Dying
The pattern is that every time something new and fancy shows up, we humans start raving about how it is going to kill everything before it. Perhaps we have learnt nothing from experience. That is not how it works.
The older technologies often just evolve to adopt the new as part of their strategy and just keep right on going, refusing to die.
Instead of dying, printed books are being sold on websites and in apps. Rather than give up and die, radio stations now offer online streaming of their broadcasts and use of social media for audience interaction.
Rather than disappear, brick-and-mortar stores leverage the benefits of e-commerce stores to sell more and provide better customer service.
So, here is what will happen. Websites, blogs and online stores will not give way to chat systems and bots. Instead, they will leverage on them and use them to drive traffic and engagement. Death is a long way off.
Eventually, Everything Will Die
Indeed, eventually, everything will die. The old will give way to the new. The cycle of death just isn’t as swift as some are screaming.
Rob is going to be disappointed; his prediction that “we will see the first major brand shut down its website” in 2018 will fall flat on its face. Either he hasn’t learnt much from the last twenty-something years of the web or his article is a lame attempt at content marketing.