Over the past year I have been working on the first serious social networking site, with heavy Facebook and Linkedin integration, and I have found the following to be true. When you first start out looking to build out a website with social networking functionality you come across the following solution “methods”:
1. Free/Opensource “Downloadable” Social Networking Solutions
These are things like BuddyPress (WordPress), Drupal Based, Joomla Based Solutions, and Others.
Pros: Sometimes easy to deploy, designs easy to find on ThemeForest.net.
At first glance this seems like a perfect solution. 4 or 5 standard functions like friending people, messaging, groups and chat. Well, it’s a perfect solution for small outfits that want a social network to be added on to something like a store or a group that has all the needs for social-like functionality.
Cons: Biggest con of them all is niche functionality. If your social networking-like site (I use “like” because this is a qualifier) is anything other than a social networking site these solutions are not really what you want. Trust me, all the developers in the world that do development will tell you they can take BuddyPress and add on all kinds of functions, make groups do this or that, but in the end, the amount of customization involved is going to be higher than the original cost of something I am going to mention later. Another big con is the overhead. You wanted a social network, but you got a big pile of code, and with this overhead and complexity. So, this is a good solution for your book club group or groupies of a band, but if anything needs to be different, like you don’t want the ability for people to friend and groups are kind of different, than stop now!
2. Hosted Social Networking Solution
Ning and others
Pros: Sounds great, right! You use Ning and they generate a site for you. Speed to market is the biggest pro and learning curve is lower because you don’t need to learn WordPress for BuddyPress so you are not having to take a class!
Cons: Well, the biggest con is you don’t control your data. You may be able to get a download, but who knows where it is and what they are going to do with it. You have to read the terms carefully. But even more so, like the con in the downloadable opensource solutions, you lose control of your app. If you want to do something or anything outside the norm, you are going to be limited to their functionality. So great for these little social networking sites, but not for prime-time or something serious.
3. Customized Solution In-sourced Social Networking Solutions
Having a customized solution built by a local programmer or programming team is plausible, but it is financially practical.
Pros: Control over the project. Able to meet with the guy in charge. Get it general close to what you want.
Cons: Cost. You are going to get burned financially. A good social networking implementation should cost, in the US about $35,000, and that is for a basic implementation of friends, connections, groups, specialized forms, contacts, and any facebook like or Linkedin like functions. It could end up over $100,000 if you choose the most expensive team or use a web agency. That is what it costs to build a site with this kind of functionality, using a typical american development firm!
4. Customized Solution Outsourced Social Networking Solution Without Team or Specialized Experience
You meet some guy on oDesk who says he can do it at $15 an hour.
Cons: If it is a sophisticated implementation, this is going to be a disaster. Let’s just start with communications. Even the best outsourced firm will get things wrong. That’s because english is often not their primary language. And they most likely will be truthful, but you will find that most of these implementation, especially one man team ones. turn out to be 10 times more costly than you thought and all the functions will be completely wrong! In fact, I have seen 3 in the past year that were disasters!
5. Customized Social Networking Solution Outsourced With Specialized Experience In Building Social Networks!
Contact us about building a customized solution!
Pros: If you are serious and there is a serious budget or opportunity to build your social network the way you want it, then do it right and control the project. This is not cheap, but it is cost effective. In the end, it is cheaper. This particular team I work with are experts at social networking functionality, so that is the key to working with them. Just choosing a random solution provider, based on price, is pretty much a mistake.
Cons: I am sure there are some, because there are few in this situation. One con that comes with all outsourcing-like projects is that the communications must be continual and work correctly. That is why the team I work with has a specific process for managing the web development from design through html, to a final website or app.
Ok, now that we have gone over all the options for building a social network, please consider building one with the team I have used. Just fill out the form below and start the process of working with us: