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Creating useful Social Websites – What is ideal?

Tue Mar 11, 2008 12:09 pm
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Comments: 0 Views: 302
There are many places on the web to create unique websites. In the last few years there has been an enormous increase in the number of companies creating software that allow anyone to create and easily maintain a complete web presence.

Years ago there were only a few real options. Most of these offerings were centered around hiring someone to create static web pages, or if e-commerce were involved, perhaps something that was driven by a database. You would most likely get something that was difficult to change and completely involved a programmer, or you could choose services like Yahoo Stores, for a relatively small fee.

Many people even chose to use something like geocities, which was ad supported and had limited options. These offerings have since been updated to include more modern options, but are basically limited to simple web sites.

Although many people are interested in maintaining blogs today, serious bloggers usually go with Wordpress, or other downloaded programs you install on your own virtual or dedicated server. These options need a domain name, and perhaps someone to install it for you, but they have been serving their clients well.

Blogging is a unique situation; perhaps the software itself has constrained what people think a website is. Previously a website was something a company would use to advertise their products and services. Most individuals did not think of a website as something that they wanted or needed. It is likely that the millions of people with myspace or facebook accounts do not really consider themselves to even have a website. But they do have an address, and in some way they do place content on them.

Even though the software has gotten much better, and even though there are so many free options available, what really does someone need a website for?

If you want to blog, you have a lot of options. Which means you basically want to write something and make it available to anyone. If you want to find friends, you either join a social network or a dating site. But with all the millions of poorly maintained or dormant websites, the real problem is that at some point these options no longer became useful.

Here are the points I can think of that a website should be:

  • Allows Some type of Social Networking

Whatever people may believe it is a great concept to be able to connect with other people easier than just traditional email. The whole point, from what I can see is that you can learn a bit about someone from what they have up. To date though this has barley moved past simple profiles.

  • Document Storage (perhaps creation)

To be really useful for the longterm a program should contain document storage and ideally document (PDF) creation.

  • Photos

Photos are a must. Everyone on flickr and photobucket obviously agree.

  • Fully Organizable

This is not so available usually. Options to organize your content are quite limited on Wordpress and for the most part non-existent on more traditional social networks. It is true that if you made your own website you can organize it any way you like, but if its not easy to update the content or change the structure then there is no point.

  • Can have multiple topics

Multiple topics is definitely necessary for something to be useful past a few months or so, unless you never have any other ideas about what you like. Too many blogs are focused on a single topic, which is great if you have an audience, but what about something thats useful for you.
It is a great idea to post your recipes online, but you might notice that having your recipes on one site that focuses on recipes and also having accounts devoted to other subjects, can get difficult to manage.
Ultimately I want something where I can store things, talk to others, learn about others, share information (Photos or Documents) and see some new things.

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