Social media has emerged as the most common way people connect to each other, whether it is in the form of content creators delivering content for their audiences using a platform like YouTube or a brand advertising its products and services to gain better reach and promote higher sales.
As social media platforms turn into an increasingly competitive spaces, it is important to understand what fuels this competition and how different social media platforms solve carious problems that exists in the internet realm.
Why are social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are so popular?
When it comes to any product or service, it should solve a problem that exists in the market. Fortunately, in the case of social media platform, they serve a useful purpose of connecting people and facilitating communication. There are other highlighting features of these social media platforms make them addictive for some and a mere necessity for others.
- Easy and uninterrupted communication over geographical boundaries: Social media platforms make it easy to get access to content and people across international boundaries. This makes it easier for brands to promote themselves as they get better access to their target audiences
- Pooling of resources: Any platform facilitating effective flow of communication allows for people to come together and combine their knowledge databases to enable growth. Facebook groups and pages made up of professional website designers are an example of this as they can constantly stay connected and combine their knowledge to speed up the completion of their projects
- Building an online identity: Various social platforms allow businesses and brands to build an identity using pictures, videos, communication and advertisements. This helps them in expanding their reach and aids in exposing more people to their promotional efforts when compared to traditional forms of advertising.
- More than communication: With the increase in the number and types of social media platforms, it is not just about communication anymore as social media platforms can also facilitate purchases of products and services.
- Fueling educational endeavors: The ability of school to teach online using digital resources has all been made possible by social media platforms like Zoom, Skype, etc. These platforms essentially eliminate the limitations imposed by traditional methods of imparting education.
Types of social media platforms:
Social media websites for academic purposes: These types of websites host digital resources like documents, have built in video players for streaming video content and incorporate an element of communication through text or video chat feature. Websites like Meritnation are an example of this.
Social media websites for communication: The primary purpose of these websites is to establish communication between brands and people. While these platforms eventually add features like video streaming, advanced account profile management, etc., their main goal is to facilitate transmission of information between entities.
Social media websites for content consumption: PlatformsYouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video are all examples of websites where the primary goal for a visitor is to consume content that can be streamed on demand.
Social media websites for Dating: These websites are built for people to find potential matches around their location. These are fairly simple websites that only need chat systems, detailed profile management tools, location tracking, and mobile friendly user interface.
Social media websites for professional networking: LinkedInemerges as the prime example for thistype of website as it is used to build and manage professional profiles and identities that can then be used to apply for jobs.
Social media websites for informational purposes: As the internet became a place for more and more information being circulated through websites like Wikipedia, social media platforms added to the convenience with the introduction of websites like Quora. The main goal here is to gather and provide information.
Websites for internal business use: Only a certain people are given access to these websites and are protected with passwords. These websites cannot be accessed by the general public since they are built for a specific purpose and is made to operated by the employees of an organization. Zimbra is an example of a website like this, it is an e-mail service that is only allowed to be used by business and their employees.
Workflow and process sequencing needed for social media website designing:
1. Researching and getting acquainted with your target audience: Getting to know the audience a business is going to serve since it can allow the business to understand the type of social media to build to facilitate their audiences. Researching about competitors can aid the business in understanding the market trends and how they can tune the website design to get a competitive advantage.
2. Prototyping UI/UX designs: After the preliminary research, various User Interface (UI) designs are created from which, the designs that are in line with the type of website being created can be shortlisted and selected.
3. Developing tools and software: This step is one of the more complicated ones since it involves developing all the software needed to run the social media website like chat engines, software for content streaming like video players, graphical elements and animation, app frameworks, etc.
4. Testing and bug fixing: After thewebsite design and software has been developed. The developers get a functional website running. This website then needs to be tested for bugs. Since developing a website is a complex process, it leaves a lot of room for error and optimization. Testing is a way of assuring quality in the final website by getting feedback and constantly making improvements to it.
5. Publishing and promotions: The website and the app can then be published on the internet. The publishing is usually followed by promotional efforts to drive more traffic towards the website and popularize it. Publishing can further let the developers know about any bugs that were not detected in the tested phase as there are significantly more people using the website now which consequently increases the chances of bug detection.
Here are few examples of social media websites with clever designs and functionality that is unmatched by other platforms.
Quora has become the standard when it comes to getting queries addressed. Quora has made a name for itself given the increased popularity in the past few years and the fact that it hosts an active community.
A breakdown of the design elements here can help us understand the website better
- The panel on the left contains ‘Spaces’ or the different categories of interests that further take the visitor to the question and answer section in the particular category, this is an efficient way to find what the website user is looking for and saves time.
- Different sections of the website like ‘Discover Spaces’ and ‘Complete your profile’ are integrated right into the front page with drop-down menus to achieve a clean look while still eliminating the need for the user to visit multiple web pages.
- Since Quora positions itself as a social media platform, it features a chat engine that allows users to chat with each other and can be seen at the bottom right corner.
- A search bar is also present at the top that can be used to search for questions and navigate to the answers directly.
One of the most commonly used social media platforms and at one time, the most popular, Facebook is a website that incorporates every feature that is provided by platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. Some of the key features that can be seen in the overall design are:
- The left panel hosts a variety of services offered by Facebook such as the video streaming service called Facebook Watch, Facebook’s e-commerce service called ‘Facebook Marketplace’
- The top left part of the website header contains the search bar which allows profiles, hashtags, posts, and much more to be searched. It is important to know that the search bar cuts down the time needed to navigate a social media platform significantly.
- The website has seen continuous improvements in its design as it has been optimized to use the screen real estate better than before. The elements that were arranged in a somewhat crowded manner before have also been arranged in a clean manner.
- The header also features a tabbed interface where different tabs suggest different services by Facebook like gaming, watch, and marketplace.
- The center area features the latest posts that are part of your ‘Daily feed’. It is meant to keep users updated with the latest developments on the pages and user accounts that they follow.
Known as a social media platform for professionals and individuals, LinkedIn has inked its name as one of the most popular social media platforms serving a niche. With the given popularity of the platform, LinkedIn has expanded its services to offer job searches near a person’s location or all around the country based on the skills an individual has.
Key takeaways from LinkedIn’s website design are:
- Live search included in the header that can be used to search for jobs, other user accounts, posts, etc.
- Since LinkedIn is a platform based on building a profile that will then be showcased to employers to attract potential job opportunities, LinkedIn prioritizes profile building by displaying stats related to the number of people who viewed your profile and the number of connections you have with your profile picture on the left.
- A chatbox can also be seen at the bottom right corner featuring the ability to message your connections
- Posts from your connection and the option to post yourself have been provided in the main panel situated in the middle. This is a common design element as many platforms utilize the space in the center for posts.