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How to build a social network? Helpful advice

Social networks have become an integral part of our daily lives. Statistics say that we spend more than two and a half hours daily on social networks, and the networks themselves have involved more than 60% of the world's population. We use social platforms to inform, entertain, communicate with new people, find new business partners and join communities that arouse our interest. The power of social networks is incredible, so it is not surprising that people are interested in creating their social network and repeating the success of Facebook. What is a social network? A modern social network is a digital tool that allows users to quickly create and share content such as videos, blog links, event announcements, photos, and live broadcasts on the Internet on mobile devices and laptops. More broadly, a social network is a website where any interaction of people takes place. We also witness the emergence of a new indirect interaction through AR/VR devices (such as glasses, helmets, su

Social media builder. How to choose?

Usually, we highlight three large classes of social media builders. Let’s formulate the main features of these classes and then determine where they can be used.

Drag-and-drop services.

To date, this largest class of platforms is represented by very popular Wix, Weebly, Jimbo, etc. They attract many users with their simplicity and ease to create a website based on ready-made templates and functions that the user chooses and configures on the website provider using a graphical interface.

As a rule, the service is provided by subscription. The low price is possible because the cost of developing the platform and its support is divided into all subscribers. At the same time, it is also a risk. In case the provider cannot attract the minimum required number of subscribers to its platform, it will be forced to reduce the allocation of resources for existing users. In the worst case, the service will stop working and users will lose access to their services. For many subscribers, this will be the loss of their users, whom they have been collecting around their project for so long.

Such platforms are closed systems, so subscribers do not have the opportunity to run users’ scripts to add unique functions. This increases the security of the entire platform, but severely limits the creativity of subscribers.

The same applies to the website design on the platform. It is simply impossible to offer the opportunity to make a unique design to hundreds of subscribers at the same time. Therefore, you may use only proven and well-functioning design templates. It will not be possible to step aside from the plan of the platform owner and add something original.

Any project grows gradually, gaining reputation and gathering more and more users. Most platforms offer flexible subscription plans, given this growth. Higher payment involves allocating more storage and computing resources. But what if the project has outgrown all tariff options? How can a subscriber transfer his creation from the platform to his infrastructure? No way. He will have to create an entirely new social media with the inevitable loss of some users, or risk losing them altogether. It is also necessary to remember the difficulties if the company-provider decides to change prices or terms of use. 

Pros. Low price, ease of project launch, many useful features, good security, technical support included in the subscription.

Cons. Low individualization, poor performance and scalability, complete dependence of the project on the service provider. 

“Out-of-Box” solutions.

Other builders offer basic preset functions that can be expanded with third-party modules and plugins. Among the most famous are the popular WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. They all require the purchase of hosting services and initial setup but are irrespective of any service provider. The website owner installs and configures the script, updates the components, and changes the settings.

Undoubtedly, thanks to the hard work of developers’ communities, these web engines have come a long way from niche platforms for simple websites to versatile solutions. Versatility allows you to recreate almost any type of website or social media, or at least make it similar to the leading websites in appearance.

Huge design customization capabilities and openness of the platforms allow developing and running almost any function. Such improvements can be expensive, but in the end, they will distinguish such a project from competitors. As for the appearance of such a website, there is a wide range of paid templates. It will not be a problem to find a web studio that will make you an individual template according to your requirements.

At first glance, “Out-of-Box” solutions may overcome almost all the shortcomings of Drag-and-drop services, albeit by adding some costs. Unfortunately, not everything is so good. And the most important issue is security. Since these products are Open Source, errors and vulnerabilities often become known before the release of new web engines and their updates on web servers. Attackers actively use these gaps by injecting exploits. The goals they pursue may vary, but most importantly, they steal resources. This can be the use of your site to send spam, the substitution of content and a redirect to fishing sites, theft of personal data, etc. When using such platforms, you can never feel completely safe.

This solution leaves the customer with independence from the platform provider but involves many shortcomings. Firstly, it will be necessary to involve professional developers to implement the project, which ultimately increases the cost of website development. Secondly, the versatility causes the impossibility of creating a highly specialized competitive project. 

In general, the use of ready-made design templates allows users to create websites with a limited budget. However, the overall availability and low cost of such templates lead to the loss of the unique appearance. Therefore, in most cases, you will need to hire a designer to change the finished theme template.

«Out-of-Box» solutions have more opportunities, but this will again require an experienced developer and valuable time. And it is still unknown whether you will be satisfied with the result. Payments for modifying a universal product may eventually be an unbearable burden for success.

Pros. Basic functions are completely free, long-term community support, independence from the provider.

Cons. Low performance and scalability, high vulnerability, high cost of improvements.

Custom website.

Sometimes, development implies abandoning ready-made mass solutions described earlier. This approach is needed only if the website is a long-term project involving high scalability, load capacity, uniqueness. In this case, you have to create your platform from scratch or use a specially designed platform. Creating the platform is an expensive but also a long process. Team hiring, developing, and testing require a deep immersion in the process of product development and implementation. However, investments of several million US dollars and experienced specialists from different fields can reduce the development period to one or two years. 

As to a specially developed platform such as QSNE from Qwerty Networks, you do not have to limit yourself in your choice or take risks when developing extensions for a ready-made solution. All the functionality inherent in large projects of social networks, web portals and marketplaces has already been implemented. The user only needs to select the elements he needs, and the company independently implements them, considering the wishes of the customer. This is the best way to create a complex website because it has many advantages:

·      High scalability and load capacity. The high-load testing report promises trouble-free service in all circumstances—an increased flow of requests from site users or a DDoS attack.

·   High responsiveness. Access time to the QSNE platform is a record time on the Internet. According to statistics, 40% of users leave the site if it does not load within 3 seconds.

·      Choosing to use the company's ready-made infrastructure, or deploying a project on the customer's infrastructure

·      Fast error correction and introduction of new technologies, as artificial intelligence and trained chatbots.

·      Unique design based on your requirements

·      No restrictions on the choice of functionality

·      Ability to integrate with existing business processes

·      Project support by an experienced team

Pros. Highest security, complete personalization, unlimited scalability and performance, the ability to create unique features.

Cons. Relatively high cost and duration of development.

What social media builder to choose?

First, you need to determine the type of social media being created. The following categories can be distinguished:

1. Personal websites and blogs are for well-known personalities and media persons who have reasons not to participate in social networking or prefer to distribute unique content on their own. Looking ahead, it should be said that maintaining such a site can be costly. However, if you have your promotional team, such costs can be justified.

2. Landing pages (landing sites) usually have a short life and disappear after achieving marketing goals. Such sites typically have a spectacular appearance and a minimum set of functions limited to calling for action (purchase, subscription, survey, etc.). 

3. The corporate portal represents a specific business and is used to describe the services or goods offered on the Internet. 

4. Marketplaces are used to sell products and receive payments. It can be a small website of one seller, or a marketplace where many sellers sell their products online. Rental services also match this concept. 

5. Educational portals of institutions that offer online courses.

6. Information portals unite many web resources and offer forums, multimedia players, search engines, etc. Portals are often used as an internal tool in universities and companies to store all important information in one place.

7. The community creation website is designed to unite users by interests, for example, to maintain social connections, career, or dating. Such websites offer not goods but paid services. 

Then you have to plan the number of users of your project in the future:

1. Small audience — up to 1000 users.

2. Average audience — up to 10,000 users.

3. Large audience — more than 10,000 users. 

Based on your plans, you may decide on a social media builder.

Seriously, Drag-and-drop services are good if you are not experienced enough and short of money to hire third-party developers. It looks interesting to use such builders to create a small community, a club of interest, a landing page, or even a small online store. You won't get much for this money, but you don't risk it. Gaining initial experience with websites can be the first step towards the top skill. And maybe inspire you to create your Drag-and-drop platform.

If you already have experience with websites and Drag-and-drop services that seem too binding, try out “Out-of-Box” solutions. Dozens of template CMS are distributed completely free of charge. It should be said that most Internet sites use free WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and similar scripts. But most of them don’t raise money. Monetizing such sites is quite difficult because they have a similar structure and set of functions. Worse, they contain similar errors and vulnerabilities that attackers successfully exploit. Scalability is not initially their strong point because it is impossible to develop the only good software solution for a variety of platforms. The performance of such sites cannot be increased even with the use of powerful servers because of used technology stacks limitations. It is allowed to use such platforms for sites where loss or compromise of data will not lead to financial losses, and lost content is not unique protected property. But for serious businesses, such solutions are highly discouraged. Does this mean that these are trash solutions? Of course not. They are suitable for small companies or individuals who want more independence and freedom than Drag-and-drop services can offer.

For medium and large businesses, compromises are unacceptable, as they can have serious consequences. Some keywords should make you think about choosing a specialized platform — “unique content”, “personal data”, “business process”, “high load”, “artificial intelligence”, “international”, “social network”. If there is at least one coincidence with your idea of the future project, even concerning the average size of the planned audience, abandon ready-made solutions. You can be sure that large investments in “Out-of-Box” solutions can make them comparable to special platforms like QSNE only for development cost, but not for functionality and security. Any project based on QSNE can run either on the reliable infrastructure of the developer Qwerty Networks or the customer's infrastructure.

Modern technologies provide a wide range of builders for creating a quality social media website. And the main task is to select among them exactly the one that suits you. The considerable success of website builders is due to the large number of users who have a limited budget, are looking for a simple solution, intend to independently develop and maintain their site.

But the builders are unusable if you're seeking a platform for a high-performance complex project built on an advanced technology stack. And then the issue of the cost of developing an individual solution fades into the background since such a project is an investment in business development.

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