Why link when you could embed? The hyperlinked nature of the Web provides a new type of publishing paradigm, freeing us from the centuries-old rules of broadsides, newspapers, magazines and books. And the same technologies that enable hyperlinking, also enable embedding.
With the hyperlinking that we've all become accustomed to, we build navigational guideposts that lead our web site visitors along possible paths: paths that wander through our web pages—like wandering through a garden—leading to places of interest, seasonal garden spots in bloom, secret pleasures; or paths that leave our garden and lead to other fertile grounds.
But when we use these technologies to embed, rather than link, we keep our visitors in our own garden, while offering the fruits of the outside world to our guests. The offerings to the guest in this mashup become richer than the offerings of either place on its own.
Offering your visitors a cornucopia is what mashups are all about.
- Advertising is the oldest, and still the most popular, web mashup—so simple to setup and use that we often forget to properly categorize it as a mashup. It is true that advertising can easily be overdone, and can create a negative drain on your web site's message; but advertising doesn't have to be a negative thing: it can be done with subtlety and finesse—when you carefully integrate it into your overall site design.
- Maps are the quintessential web mashup: powerful, useful, engaging, free. And with good reason: as compact representations of high density information, they convey deeper meaning—with less screen real estate—than pictures or words. And with the convergence of mobile phone and GPS technology, the revolution in spatially based web apps is fully upon us!
- Search is an integral part of the Web experience. Using the API services of the major search engines, it's easy to create tailored feeds for your site visitors that display customized searches of your web site, your keywords, or your product domain. For sites that don't have full fledged internal search engines, this type of mashup is an inexpensive and effective way to help your visitors find what they're looking for.
While implementing a check-out system is a straight-forward software engineering problem, choosing a credit-card verification and processing service is an involved business decision. Research. Research. Research.
- Photos and videos are ubiquitous in today's Web, and embedding them directly into your web site is almost always the way to go, but when you want to allow your visitors to post their photos and videos, embedding a third-party web app is a cheaper and faster route to the services you need—upload, storage, thumbnails, and more—without doing the back-end hard work that would otherwise be required.
- Bookmarking services are so plentiful and so simple to hook in that everyone is getting on the bandwagon, providing one click submissions to social bookmark managers from every content page on their site. Simply pick which ones are customary and appropriate for your visitor demographics: tech-savvy, youth, industry specific, general public, etc.
- Microblogging is this year's Web mania. If you want to be part of this instant chat broadcast revolution, now's your chance to get started. And getting started is a snap. But finding something relevant to say, and saying it in 120 characters or less is perhaps more of a challenge than implementing the technology. Still, if you've got a constant stream of news pouring through your site, this may be just the revolution you've been waiting for.
- SEO Analytics are those hidden services that track visitors as they traverse your site and provide you with valuable insight into page viewing patterns, allowing you to fine tune your site's navigational structure, or choose better advertising keywords, or even re-evaluate who your audience is.