The death of the destination site

Over on Snipperoo Ivan is pushing the idea that the destination site is on it’s way out. The idea follows on nicely, of course, from his obsession with widgets, but as usual I think he might be on to something.

Ivan’s main point is that many, many people use search engines to get to sites, even if they know the URL – ie they type the name of the company or the URL into Google instead of into the address bar, and, therefore, if they are using search to find you, you need to be where they end up. In Ivan’s words:

My take on it is the ‘everything everywhere’ version – i.e. if people are using search to find you, you need to be where they end up. And while this might seem to mean simply ‘hold the No. 1 slot in Google’, what it actually means is that you need to distribute your presence rather than consolidate it in one place. The, wherever they seek, you are there. Whatever they search, you are there. This gives control to the ‘user’ (as in UGC) to construct their own view of online, rather than expecting them to come and find you where you choose to hang out.

That means doing things like having a presence in Facebook and Myspace and weaving your brand into conversations in all the places your customers hang out. As an aside I think that brand marketing will increasingly be viewed in this way, and that direct marketing will go the VRM route.

So far I have argued from a search perspective that URLs and hence destination sites are becoming less important. I think the same is also true from a surfing perspective – at least it is for me.

There are two sites which I go to everyday, this blog and Facebook. As much as possible I like to use services that operate within those environments, particularly Facebook – there are two reasons for that – firstly the apps are improved by being socially aware and secondly (and probably more importantly) I use them more often because I am already on Facebook. As examples I use Blogfriends as a feedreader instead of Netvibes, and Visual Bookshelf to record the books I read instead of the functionally superior LibraryThing.

The extent to which the web is getting recast as network of fragments (to borrow a phrase from Ivan) really came home to me the other day when I wanted to put a widget on my blog which shows which books I’m reading. Unfortunately Visual Bookshelf doesn’t offer that functionality, so I went back to check out LibraryThing to see if they could help. What I wanted from LibraryThing (which they didn’t have) was a Facebook app and a blog widget that enabled me to use the site and show people what I’m reading without having to go back to LibraryThing. I don’t want to go to the destination site because I only want to use the fragments.

This is related to a couple of larger memes that have been bubbling for a while. Firstly the atomisation of content – which is all about personalisation enabled by web technologies that facilitate the microchunking and syndication of content, and secondly the re-organisation of the internet around people.

I’m into all of this stuff because it is having, and will continue to have a profound impact on the way we build and consume content from music through to games through to movies and from UGC to professionally produced content.