When you look up propagation in the dictionary (ok, ok, I mean Google and then Webster) you get a couple different options for the definition. For the purposes of this discussion we are going to skip option A, and go with option B: the spreading of something (as a belief) abroad or into new regions. When talking about propagation in websites, we are typically talking about the propagation of a site to the servers throughout the world. The internet utilizes servers all around the world and depending on your location you may be getting data from a different server than your neighbor. In addition, this server might update every hour while your neighbor’s updates every 24. If you add in different service providers it expands the issue even more and explains why new websites can take time to propagate around the web. This process can take up to 72 hours and is typically the explanation to why one person in Texas can see your site while another person in California, at the same URL, cannot see the site. It can be a pain, but since I started working in web, the process has improved and does not seem to take as long.
Good ideas are usually copied in on the web. Often it can be seen as a compliment when someone copies what you do. It is interesting to me to watch the ideas propagate through the web industry. Ecommerce and social media sites are a common origination source for trends we can see today. Strangely enough, there is another industry where many web trends are tested, but it is not one that can be mentioned on a family friendly blog :)
Taking a quick look through the web, it is quite easy to see some of the more “popular” ideas, templates, or layouts that are being used. All it takes is for one high profile company to do something cool and then you can watch it propagate throughout the industry. Sometimes it is not even a layout, but just a style of presenting content. Take Instagram for instance, which was launched in 2010, and while it did not take off immediately, the visual style of presenting content has significantly altered the way websites present content. It forced people to bring more and higher quality visuals into their content on websites. Another good example is financial services websites. Take a look at the website for Chase, Wells Fargo, or Bank of America. Then go look at smaller banks or even credit unions. Chances are you will notice quite a few similarities. There is so much data available for website strategists and developers that they can test what leads to more content consumption and what drives people away. This is not always a good thing and it is not always a bad thing, but it all depends on the execution of the idea.
At Covenant, we base our websites on the needs and goals of our clients, but we are always willing to see what others are doing and execute them in a way that we think will be most successful for our clients. We always aim to deliver something unique for our clients, but there is value in using some of the trends on the web.