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How to do Almost Anything: The Rise of the ‘DIY’ Website

Pooling knowledge to benefit us all, the Internet has revolutionised the way we consume and share information. Combine that with the advent of social media, and we’ve reached a point where the answer to almost any question imaginable is only a couple of clicks away.

As a business or a company, providing expertise and sought after information is a fantastic way to both bring in traffic, and paint a good image of your company. It goes back to the oldest examples of content marketing.

The best at this are the ‘Do-it-yourself’ and ‘How-to’ websites, which have become a free, go-to source on subjects ranging from household cleaning dilemmas to building your own robot, empowering consumers in the process. We did a little research into the rise of the ‘how-to’ website to find out how they have become such an indispensable part of our browsing habits – as well as picking a couple of our favourites.

Wiki or CMS?

DIY websites can be divided into two categories: Wiki (think Wikipedia) and CMS (content management systems). The aptly named Wikihow is an ‘open’ source of information, created, written and edited by a community of users with the idea that content will be refined to an ever higher standard over time. Conversely, expert knowledge bases like Cleanipedia provide a high-quality, comprehensive resource, with detailed content written by industry professionals.

Wiki platforms are therefore typically associated with more eclectic how-to guides (‘How to Stop a Wedding’ went viral earlier on this year), while a closed CMS is the natural choice for more specialised content.

The Decline of Traditional Media

The rise of the online ‘How-to’ platform is intrinsically tied to the gradual decline of print media. Traditional magazines such as Good Housekeeping and Real Simple have had to establish an online presence to try and take advantage of the unparalleled convenience of the internet.

Still, they’ve got some work to do to catch up with some of the How-to websites out there. Here are a couple that are leading the way:

  • Cleanipedia

Instead of frantically searching through magazines looking for a red wine removing solution, you can head to Cleanipedia for uncluttered, indispensable guides on cleaning everything in the home (including seemingly un-cleanable items). Tips include recommendations for the best cleaning products out there, as well as homespun methods using common household ingredients to make housework easy.

  • eHow

With almost as many bizarre guides as Wikihow, this DIY behemoth has grown exponentially from 17,000 articles in 2006 to several million in just a few years. Content includes step-by-step guides, instructional videos and expert advice on a variety of topics such as money saving tips, health, fashion, beauty and cooking. The sheer breadth of the information on offer coupled with the fact that articles are written by aficionados in each field has made eHow an invaluable resource.

Share and Share alike

Part of the continual growth of ‘how-to’ websites can surely be attributed to the share-ability of the content on offer. Websites have developed increasingly innovative ways to integrate high-quality content with social media, allowing ease of access in a single feed. For example, Howto.tv recently unveiled its proprietary ‘LinkTo’ player, integrating high quality instructional videos with Facebook Timeline – showing that there’s still room for innovation in the world of DIY sites.

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