What’s a web designer or developer to do? You want to create something new. But it’s all been played out right? Have you decided all the ‘cool new sites’ have been built? There’s only one great place to share photos right? And where else to go to auction stuff? There’s only one place where you can build a profile to share with your friends, a place to watch video files and share them, right? Actually there are handfuls of each of these. And which of these web places cater to your unique personality and desire? Which do you see using 6 years from now? 6 months from now??
MySpace, Flickr, Facebook, YouTube and the like are getting a lot of love from the media and a lot of traffic these days. And why not? They are examples of great emerging trends online. They symbolize the fact that “Community” and their legions of users creating their own spaces and ideas trumps “Content” and the static information it represents. Big dollars are being spent. Whether it be half-billion dollar acquisitions or burning a million a month in bandwidth, the net is certainly exciting these days, even if you aren’t a designer or developer. If something catches on and everyone is there, then everyone wants to be there..for now anyway. But do we all have the same needs? Away from all the big names and mass audiences, there’s something deeper growing. It’s all along the long-tail, it’s all the niches and their networks and these are growing even faster. This growth is even stronger and smarter than the massive community sites.
Consider the unique tools each niche is building. These offerings have never been more desirable or compelling or even available…
Think about runners, or simply exercise enthusists, where now your shoes talk to your iPod, which talks to a network of runners worldwide who are all running against you, or with you, all displayed on a beautiful flash interface.
Think about portable gamers, Now you are on your couch or over at McDonalds with your Nintendo DS playing the New Super Mario Bros. with someone across the planet. Who can collect the most coins, mash the most toadstools and smash the most blocks?
You can buy virtual land and sell it for profit in your SecondLife. Where do you stand in Warcraft and Xbox-LIVE rankings? What music are you and your friends and global music loving neighbors listening to right now in last.fm? How about my Dad and all those lost albums on vinyl he’s rediscovering the iTunes Music Store? Or scrapbooking stay-at-home-moms comparing their layouts? Or anyone with a cool t-shirt idea? Or families sharing journal entries and family photos? Or anyone discovering their ancestors?
As web developers, designers and entreprenuers…remember the niche. There are a billion unique things that deserve our creativity, intuition and insight and the opportunities today are limitless. What else do you see out there? Which niche are you going to build out?