Creating your very own social network is now about as easy as creating a blog. Whether you’re interested in creating a learning space for your development skills or trying to set up a launching pad for collaborative efforts for your business, anyone can easily create their very own private social network. But between premade social network solutions and more customizable options, which is the perfect fit for you?
Premade Social Network Solutions
Similar to the variety of premium templates available to whip up great looking sites in a matter of minutes, there are also a host of options for social network web design. Two of the most popular off-the-shelf solutions are Ning and Elgg. And like any standard WYSIWYG (“what-you-see-is-what-you-get”) tool, there are pros and cons to their use.
Ease of use is perhaps the best reason to use an off the shelf solution. Much like a WYSIWYG application, services such as Ning and Elgg are designed to be intuitive enough for just about anyone to use. That ease of use factor is a large part of the reason that there are more than a hundred million unique users between those two platforms alone.
Both services also offer a depth of customizability that is hard to fathom without having personally explored both services. For example, members within a network can create their own private groups, utilize internal messaging support, online chat, and even an RSS feed.
Additionally, the inadequacy of one over-the-counter alternative might be a feature or option within another. For instance, while Ning users are limited to creating 10 networks, Elgg allows you to create as many groups as you want within your own network. Similarly, while many premade network solutions allow heavily-customizable user profiles, others opt for more static profile pages like Facebook. So where do these over-the-counter solutions begin to fall short?
Limitations of Premade Solutions
While services like Ning and Elgg are designed to carefully emulate the major social networks (i.e., Facebook, Google+), that also means that the functions offered are far from innovative. You can’t expect any features that aren’t also common to the major social networks.
If you’re trying to create your very own private Facebook clone, preexisting software solutions can probably do everything you want and more. Consequently, organizations that want their own social networking platform, whether to create a community among coworkers or to organize and collaborate online, off-the-shelf solutions are a viable option.
However, if you’re creating your own network to create one that doesn’t follow the beaten path, a custom solution is necessary. For instance, suppose that you wanted your network to have native support for mobile notifications. Alternatively, imagine you wanted it to have innate support for the upcoming Google Glass? Although these might not be particularly lofty aspirations, they’re sufficiently unique to remain beyond the grasp of existing premade solutions.