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Today’s article is about Beta web sites, like I promised in a previous post.

What’s this trend with Beta pages? A long time ago, while Web 1.0 was ruling the Internet, a certain company was building its website. They had only 3 pages ready, Homepage, About Us, and Contact. Services and Products were in development, just some sketches on the programmer’s team table. So, they proudly displayed an “Under Construction” sign, maybe with an animated worker beneath it. And if a visitor came by that web site, having heard about that company products and services, and saw the sign, he eventually headed somewhere else.

Web 2.0 soon arrived. New trends and new behaviours. So what if my site is just 30% completed? I’ll just bring it online and attach a “Beta” in title, something like “My Company. BETA”. Allow the visitors to see what my company does, and even if the products are just listed, with no description and pictures, 50% of the visitors will come back to see if anyting changed. Web users educated themselves into the idea that when you see a Beta badge, come back. That site will have more to offer each day, until out of Beta. Some sites are in a “perpetual Beta”. Why not allow place for changes? It’s not professional to change your web site every day, or every week, or every month. Big changes take place once a year. Sort of. But leaving the Beta badge allows you to add whatever feature you want to your website, even tonight, and no one will say: “Hey, look at that site, it keeps changing, maybe their web team just don’t know what they really want.” They say: “Ooh, Beta! I’ll come back tomorrow to see if they added any new feature, or if they removed that widget, it doesn’t belong there”.

I’ve seen sites with an Alpha badge on them. I admit 2 or 3 at the max, but they were there. Just an announced feature and a comment section. The feature was 10% functional, and visitors posted bugs. BUT, the site was online and getting visits, getting to know its future clients. Compare this Alpha website with my first “1997-ish” example.

Reading backwards the stages of a software product development, we have Final, Beta, Alpha, and In-Development (there are more stages, even intermediary ones but that’s another article). Anyway, my point is when will we see In-Development web sites? No logo, no description, nothing. Just a list of proposed features written by hand on a piece of paper, scanned and displayed on (“My Company. Now in Development.”). It might be cool! Might be a new idea, let the users create a company, let them establish services and set prices. Nah, I’m just off the subject, way off…

So, what do you say?

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