Since 1996 when ICQ was launched and since 1997 when the first social network site SixDegrees was launched, we have seen many more social media to rise and fall, almost like ancient empires did.
Well, people have always wanted to find their like-minded fellows, to share their opinions, get some new knowledge, and, frankly speaking, just to chat. In addition to that, they wanted to get more or less instant response to their writings. It was quite a problem initially, before the Internet, as the only express way of communication was the telephone. It was perfect to voice-talk to someone, but it allowed no photo or other imagery sharing — say nothing of gifs or video files.
The other ways of communication were even worse — mail (yeah, that pure mail when you need to use a pen to write a letter to someone on paper and send it via a mail service like USPS, RoyalMail, DeutschePost etc.) and telegraph (we bet that 80% (it’s an optimistic scenario) of today’s youngsters have no idea what it is and for what it is used).
But everything changed when the Internet was invented (thank you ARPANET) somewhen in the 1980s. Since that time, communication becomes more and more instantaneous: if our grandparents tried to catch a postman to ask whether there is any mail for them, now we dream that nobody would write or call us in Skype, Slack, Viber etc. Times change, you know…
So, the Internet changed the way people communicate with each other. And the Internet allowed people to create fully instantaneous and interactive social networks. Now, at the end of 2018, nobody even tries to count how many social networks there are in the world. Here are just the major ones: Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter, Tumblr, Spotify, Foursquare, Flickr, VK, and Pinterest. You may find social network virtually for each interest, from social network for vintage car lovers, to social network for UFO believers, no problem.
And the tremendous penetration of smartphones or portable Internet-enabled devices makes it possible to stay connected 24/7 — no more need to use big and bulky desktop computers or laptops, as today’s smartphones, even the low-end ones, are 100% capable of making you “online”. If you visit Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Market, you’ll find hundreds or even thousands of applications for virtually all available social networks. Install what you need and voila — you’re in.
But do we really need so many social networks?
It seems that software developers are totally busy with building new social networks and creating their respective desktop and mobile clients. Some of those software solutions are flat and simple, easy-to-use and, overall, user-friendly, but some are just total disaster and trash — no design, clogged and overloaded pages and views, duplicating unneeded functions but missing the needed ones…
Surely, some of these problems are caused by the fact that those social network sites have been developed by starting software engineers or even by someone absolutely distant from software development.
Being software developers ourselves, we, though, don’t want to propagate websites and applications existing just for their existence. We believe that the best approach is to enhance the existing social network sites and applications with new features and modules. This approach will help to pay more attention to component and device compatibility, performance optimization, troubleshooting and QA in general. This will also make software products more polished in terms of technologies and design.
To sum the things up: in case you have somehow got the idea of a new social network, do not rush with bringing it to life. Firstly, make some research to make sure nobody has outrun you with that. Secondly, if this research shows that you are unique with such an idea, make a clear and detailed plan of your further steps and strictly follow that plan. Thirdly, draft the detailed specifications to make sure all, even the minor, aspects and features are given proper attention. And, finally, in case you don’t have a team of highly skilled and talented in-house developers, outsource the project to a trusted software engineering company that has a proven and successful record of similar projects. Don’t waste your time and funds for nothing.