From Gary LaBranche at Association Forum: 100 Million Served
There were less than 20,000 Web sites in the world in 1995, all with limited usability [Gary probably means functionality here. -dg]. In the spring of that year, I served on a team charged with developing a Web site for an association, and recall the debate about including a membership application. Half of the team argued that it was a waste of time and no one would ever apply for membership online. The other half argued, “What the heck, it can’t hurt.”
The joke was on us. Just five years later, online applications were the leading source of new members.
Everything looks pretty obvious in retrospect, doesn’t it? What bothers me today is not that people don’t recognize the potential of the Web (they do to a large extent) but that poor knowledge of usability and design impedes their ability to really take advantage of it. Given that it is feasible for almost any group to enable online payment for transactions, the competitive differentiator online now often comes down to how easy it is to complete the transaction (assuming roughly equal value of product, of course).