Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Webification with Web-ins™

Webification is the process of converting content so it can be viewed on the Web. It's a big deal to simplify a technical process or protocol by overlaying a human readable Web interface. Hotmail did it for SMTP/POP (e-mail), Blogger did it for FTP, RSS did it for XML, and then Twitter took it one step further and did it for RSS.

Google's search results for CNN.
A friend, who runs a green website, created what she calls web-ins™. What she's done, without realizing it, is webified the XML sitemap.

Sitemaps help search engines understand the hierarchical structure of websites. When I google "CNN" I see that the search engine returns more than a simple summary and link to the homepage. With the help of CNN's sitemap.xml the search engine deep links me directly to the content I'm looking for rather than me needing to first visit the CNN homepage followed by clicking through to the content.

Each web-in™ is manually created depending on the destination website. Different areas of a web-in™ link to different parts of a website:

ST - Buy Solar - Build It Solar
Sample live web-in


Web-ins™ are nothing more than HTML area and map tags. It's such a simple solution it could easily go unnoticed. But, then again, Twitter is nothing more than 140 characters of text without markup.

The next step in standardizing web-ins™ is to have webmasters create their own for third parties to display on their websites in place of simple links to home pages. Webmasters could provide web-in™in sizes that conform to IAB guidelines as either static HTML or, even better, as a Javascript that implements an iframe whose content would be maintained by the content provider instead of the third party.

There's an elegant beauty in simplicity.

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