Do you remember your first email address? In the early days, receiving an email was the most exciting thing in the world. I set mine up via the Skybox on my TV in the late 1990s. I had to use the remote control to log in and it took an absolute age! There’s no way I would tolerate those lengthy loading speeds these days.
Tuesday 1 August is World Wide Web day – a celebration of all that’s wonderful about the web and the information that you can find within. To celebrate on my own tiny bit of the web, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what life was like before technology took over and the ways it’s changed how I do my job.
Life before the web
Kids born over the last two decades won’t be able to remember what life was like Bwww. When I came across a word or subject I didn’t understand, my mum told me to “look it up in the dictionary or encyclopaedia”.
I received handwritten letters from school penfriends, and had hour-long phone calls with my best friend after school, even though we’d only been apart for 4 hours! Visits to the bank and the shops every Saturday were the norm. Nowadays we're still just as sociable but email, social media, ecommerce sites and Google have replaced all of this.
Going cold turkey
I’ve read blogs by people who’ve decided to go a few days or longer without their smartphone or laptop. It seems like a really liberating thing to do and I’ve been tempted to try it myself. But when it comes down to it, I’m not sure I could.
There isn’t a day go by when I don’t have to Google something, use an online app, or verify some information on a client’s website. The web is intrinsic to my business. On those rare occasions when the Internet goes down, I suffer from mild panic before rushing out to the nearest coffee shop with free Wi-Fi!
I couldn’t do my job without the web. Could you?
A quick look at my most frequently used websites tells an interesting story. Top of the list are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Hootsuite. Social media is an essential part of my job; for managing client’s profiles, sharing my own updates and keeping on top of content marketing trends. Hootsuite is a brilliant time saving tool for scheduling posts and reviewing my various feeds.
I dread to think how much time I spend on social media. Probably the same amount of time I used to spend chatting on the phone to my best friend in my teens!
The main social media feeds are closely followed by MailChimp, which I use to manage my mailing lists and send my monthly newsletter – Talking Sense. It’s so easy to use I don’t know why anyone would choose a paid-for option.
Readability is so important in creating engaging content, particularly on websites and blogs where are attention span is very short. That’s why I use a readability checker for all my work. It points out where sentences are too long (shorter is better on the web). It also highlights adverbs and use of the passive voice. Overuse of either of these can make your content less engaging to the reader.
Further down the list come three of my regular clients’ websites. A good copywriter always checks their facts before producing content!
Making up my list of frequently used sites are Amazon, my online banking site and my favourite football team’s website. You can tell two of my hobbies are spending money and watching football! Before the World Wide Web arrived, I subscribed to magazines and bought a match day programme to keep up to date with all the team news. My parents have an attic stacked high with them because I have a theory they’ll be worth something one day. Perhaps in years to come I’ll sell them on a popular online auction site!
Share your top sites
Happy World Wide Web day! What are your top websites and how do they make your life or your work easier? Do they match my list? I’d be really interested to hear.