For all the buzz about blogs, wikis, widgets, and other forms of user-driven Web interactions, the question that's rarely asked is, "Is this what our customers want?"

Given the exposure of social applications in the media and in the boardroom, now's the time for Web business owners to make the case for building engaging online interactions with customers.

First, you need to recognize that customers will engage with site features they need and want. Simply put, you can design the most useful, elegant application, but if your customers don't need it - it will eventually languish on your site as another "distraction."

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