How to Build a Social Network Website from Scratch
Did you know that almost every person on our planet is a user of at least five types of social networking sites? Facebook alone, the most popular social network website, has 2.375 billion users.
That is why the question regarding how to build a social network website from scratch often comes to the minds of entrepreneurs when they look at these astounding numbers.
The first social media network that laid the basis for modern trends was Six Degrees. Launched in 1997, it allowed users to create profiles and befriend other users. Since then, social network development has gone mainstream and social network platforms have become a constant in our lives.
In this article, you will learn:
- why it is worth investing in social network development
- the main social network ideas
- how to build a social network website from scratch
- the prerequisites for creating a social media website
Why Invest in Social Network Development
If you are considering how to build a social network website from scratch and do not know whether starting a social media business is worth it or not, this section will discuss the main reasons why you need to go for it.
Here is everything you should know before moving to the following sections that explain how to make a social media website.
The number of active users of social networks websites has already surpassed 3.499 billion. In comparison, the whole internet has 4.4 billion users, and the vast majority of them are active on social media. The average person has 8.5 social media accounts and spends 142 minutes a day engaging with them. These huge numbers showcase that social network web development is a worthy investment these days.
In case you are still hesitant about building a social network from scratch, below are some benefits of doing so. Here is what you will be able to do as a result:
- reach a larger number of users
- give users access to a network platform from their laptop or PC
- easily scale networking web site as the number of users grows
- provide an exceptional user experience and allow them to use it from the device of their choice
Now that you already know the main reasons to build a social network, it is time to move on to an explanation of how to create a social media website.
How to Build а Social Network From Scratch: Decide on the Type
Social media networks are created with different purposes in mind. While some of them are designed for user interaction, others provide useful information and unite users based on their interests. Choosing the type of content that will meet the needs of your target users will help you decide how to make a social media website that they will be interested in.
Generally, social network services are categorized into the main types that are presented below:
1. Media sharing websites
When you think about how to build a social network website from scratch, this type of social media website usually comes to mind, as it is the most popular now. These sites focus on the display and exchange of multimedia content. Platforms like this allow users to share content in the form of photos, videos, audio, etc. Instagram is a great example of this type of social media site, just like YouTube and Flickr.
When business owners start wondering how to create a social media website, they can easily find numerous examples of this type of platform.
Interested in creating an app like Instagram?
The article How to Make an App Like Instagram: Tech Stack, Features, Costs provides a detailed overview of the development process, functionality, and main cost-forming factors.
2. Business and professional sites
These are designed to help establish business connections and create a brand image. LinkedIn and Glassdoor are the most popular social network examples of this type. They provide users with the ability to communicate, create groups by professional interest, exchange professional expertise, and even find new jobs. They are also often in the spotlight with regard to the attention of those wondering how to make a social media website.
3. Informational sites
When looking for an answer to the question “how to create a social media website,” you have probably stumbled upon this type of social network. Their main task is to provide information and help people find answers to relevant questions. For example, if you want to know how to build a social network website from scratch, you can try looking up the answer on Reddit or Quora. These platforms are often created in the form of forums and review sites.
4. Educational websites
Educational platforms are designed to help students communicate with each other as well as to look up answers, get help from teaching staff, conduct research, and much more. If you are wondering how to make a social media website of this type, look to the Student Room and the Math forum for inspiration.
5. Hobby networks
This type of social media platform is quite popular these days, as users can actively search for communities that share their interests. If you are wondering how to build a social network website from scratch that will be of interest to hobbyists, examples are numerous, as sites can be dedicated to almost any hobby that is currently popular.
6. Academic websites
These social media platforms unite scientists and researchers who are willing to share knowledge, present the results of their work, and find out about the most vibrant research. ResearchGate and Academia.edu give an idea of how to build a social network website from scratch that would belong to this category.
7. Social networks
If you want to know how to make a website like Facebook, you should research this type of social network. The main idea behind this model is to allow users to communicate with each other directly, establish personal connections, and unite in groups. As you have probably guessed, Facebook and Twitter are the most remarkable examples.
8. Dating platforms
These networking websites are quite popular today, as they allow users to search for their soulmates. If you are wondering how to build a social network website from scratch in order to have a similar product, you can consult with our company, as we have experience creating these solutions.
Below, you can see a side-by-side comparison of the most popular social network websites. The table provides some insight into what features are unique to each of them, which might help you better understand how to build a social network website from scratch.
|Monthly Unique Visitors (MAUs)||2.34 B||294 M||1 B||335 M||1.9 B||641 M||5 M||330 M|
|Main idea||Network with friends and relatives||Connect with different businesses, locate and hire professionals||Share the best moments with friends||Share thoughts and opinions in short and to-the-point messages||Upload and share videos, and view, comment, and like them||Microblogging||Help find soulmates||Answer any question possible|
|280 character limit
Sharing of text, images, quotes, conversations, videos, and audio recording
|Comprehensive online dating profiles
Search by habits, marital status, gender, location, etc.
|Question and answer posting
Upvotes and downvotes
You cannot decide how to build a social network website from scratch without knowing what type of network you are going to create. Depending on the business you have or want to build, it might make sense to create a professional network, a website that will unite people by their interest, or any of the above types of social networks.
Want to develop a social network website?
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How to Make a Social Network Website Step-by-Step
How can I create a social networking site? This question does not have a simple answer, as the process is complex and consists of different stages. We have comprised an in-depth guide that shows how to build a social network website from scratch step-by-step.
1. Idea and concept
Social network development should start with an original idea that will be conveyed into a concept. It is important to think this part through, as your network should be able to win users over. The following questions will help you understand how to make a social media website that will stand out from the crowd:
- What unique features will make your network different from competitors?
- What is the main idea behind the website?
- What value can you offer to the user?
Care2, Dogster, and Untappd are examples of niche networks that offer value to users, are unique, and unite users by interests. If you create something like one of these, you have a higher chance that your social network will become popular.
2. Target audience
As you research an idea for your future product and decide how to build a social network website from scratch in the best way, you should also determine who your target audience is – who might be interested in the social network website that you are contemplating. It is not enough to know their age, locations, financial status, and hobbies; you need to think about the target audience in terms of numbers.
Just imagine that you are looking for an answer regarding how to create a social media website for collectors of water guns. How many people out there that collect them? It does not make sense to invest in something that will not return on your investment.
As soon as you start inquiring as to how to build a social network website from scratch, you should start with some initial research into your target audience. This research can be performed online where you can search for statistics, find communities, and study other data that will help you make the final decision.
The next step is to test an idea on real people. You can approach members of communities of a particular interest online or in real life. The task here is to see how the social network idea will resonate with the target audience and gain some insight into how to create a social media website that will convey your idea.
By now you probably know a thing or two about how to create a social media website of your choice, but there are a few more important points to mention.
It is time to move on to another step that is dedicated to building a business strategy for your website.
The wants and needs of the community you will be targeting should determine how to make a social media website and what features you should offer. What do your users expect from you? How do you want them to use your social network? When you know the answers to these questions, it is not difficult to determine what features to include in social network web development.
You can start from an initial smaller version of your app and later expand your network by adding new features and adopting innovative technology. If your resources allow, you may go bigger and launch a more feature-rich network or a full-fledged product all at once. The less risky strategy is to start small, but it is up to you to decide how to create a social media website.
4. Web development vendor
You cannot decide how to build a social network website from scratch and make it successful without choosing the right company providing web development services. Unless you are a developer yourself and are ready to take on the task alone, you will need someone who will be able to provide professional networking web site development services and who knows how to make a social network website with all the features you need.
Go about this task with caution, as you need to find a reliable partner who knows their way around innovative technologies and, ideally, has previous experience in creating a social network.
Don’t know how to choose the right web development company?
Take a look at the article Outsource Web Development Wisely: Useful Tips and learn everything you need to know about outsourcing web development.
5. Website project
After you have decided on the software development vendor, you can move to the first stage of social network development – the discovery stage. During this stage, business analysis is performed to determine functional specifications. The results of the business analysis are used to create the UX/UI social network design, which will later be used to build a network from scratch.
This stage is the most time consuming, as it may take upwards of a few months to develop a social network website, even if we are talking about simple forums, and years of continuous development and iterations if we are talking about complex and custom social networks. However, a company with experienced professionals will be able to provide you with a plan for how to create a social media website in the shortest time possible.
Software testing services are no less of an important task than the development itself. The first thing you should look out for is slow performance, as slow websites tend to push users away. Testing should be done before the deployment of a project so that you do not have to solve problems after you have launched the network platform. You should remember this when searching for information on how to build a social network website from scratch.
7. Marketing and promotion
Marketing activities are an important part of making a social media website, as without promotion, no one has any way of knowing about a new social network. Promotion can be done in different ways, one of which is advertising through existing social networks like Instagram, Facebook, etc. Other practices include email marketing, SEO practices, blogging, paid ads, etc.
As you can clearly see, it is not enough to decide how to build a social network website from scratch, as you also need to keep in mind post-development activities like promotion and advertising.
8. Ongoing maintenance and support
Knowing how to make a social network website is not enough. You also need to know how to organize the ongoing maintenance of your project to guarantee its effective functioning in the future. As a rule, a good web development vendor can consult you about this and provide relevant services as well.
How to Build a Social Network Website from Scratch: Tech Background
We have reviewed how to make a social network website from the point of view of organizing the process from research to deployment. This section will help you understand how to build a social network website from scratch from the technical side of things.
If you are wondering how you can create a social networking site for free, it is possible thanks to free social media website builders like WordPress. This site can be used for simple blogs, community sites, and the simplest forms of social media websites. However, this approach has a number of disadvantages that can cause technical issues in the future should you decide to grow your product.
If you want to know how to build a social network website from scratch in the best way, turn to a more reasonable approach of custom web development that consists of two parts: front-end and back-end.
Front-end development – this part includes all elements that are visible to the end-user. It utilizes such technologies as:
- Markup languages: HTML5, CSS3, Sass, Stylus
Back-end development – the server-side, where all of the main features of a website operate. The tech stack includes:
- Programming languages: Ruby, Elixir
- Frameworks: Ruby on Rails, Phoenix
- Database servers: PostgreSQL, MySQL
- Web servers: Nginx, Apache
- Cloud server platforms: Amazon Web Services (AWS, EC2, S3, etc.)
The above information gives an overall picture of the development process and should help you learn more about how to build a social network website from scratch.
Below, you can see the main functionality that should be included in social network web development. The information will also provide you with a clearer idea of how to make a social media website.
- User authorization – should be user-friendly and offer various options, i.e. authorization with social media, email, phone number, etc.
- Profile – should contain personal data, may have a set of parameters, sections and tabs
- Feed – users can see posts and other content in their timeline
- Posts – gives users the ability to share content with others in the form of posts
- Search – a full text search option that allows searching information, other users, etc.
- Activity stream – all activities are taken in the social network by users
- Status update features – the ability to set and change personal statuses
- Chat – a place where users can participate in discussions or exchange personal messages
- Files exchange – feature that allows exchanging media content like photos, videos, etc.
- Friends/connections – the most important feature that lays the foundation for all social networking websites. It allows users to find friends and set connections.
- Notifications – real-time notifications about main activities
- Analytics – can be implemented both for users, so that they could track their own activity, and for website owners to track the activity of users
- Admin panel – provides the ability to moderate the community, prevent spamming, harassing, etc.
Other important tech aspects to consider when you are thinking about how to build a social network website from scratch are as follows:
- Mobile – a must-have for all social networks. It is important to make your website mobile responsive so that users can use it on the device of their choosing. Another option to consider would be to create a social network app that will accompany your website.
Think that building a social application would be great for your business?
Read the article How to Create a Social Media App and all the ins and outs of mobile development.
Hosting – choose an operator that will provide dedicated channels that will be able to withstand heavy loads. Choose a provider who can quickly increase power if such a need arises. Consider this aspect as soon as you start contemplating how to build a social network website from scratch.
Security aspects – as social networks store personal information, messages, photos and videos for users, ensuring a high level of security is vital. This way, you will be able to guarantee that the network is protected from hacker attracts and complies with all regulations specific to the countries where it operates. You need to remember this aspect while you research how to make a social media website.
Scalability – project architecture should be set up in the early stages. It is important to make it scalable so that you will not encounter problems in the future with the growth of the social network website.
There is no doubt that social network development is a complex process that is comprised of various steps. The final decision regarding how to build a social network website from scratch depends on the type of site you want to create and what features will be included.
Wondering how to launch a project that will be successful?
The article How to Make Your App Successful. A Detailed Step-by-Step Guide will guide you through the main steps and help you choose the best strategy.
How to Create A Social Media Website: Expert Advice
Though you already know how to build a social network website from scratch, the process of its creation will be neither quick nor simple.
The following checklist will help you decide how to create a social media website and bring it to life in the shortest time period:
- Research what is important for your target audience
- Develop interaction features
- Provide features and tools that will help to create great content
- Include push notifications
- Go for mobile responsiveness or even make a social media app
The MLSDev, with its dedicated development team, has experience in creating social networks and our portfolio includes such names as Yummi, a project that allows users to share eating adventures, Trybz, a social tourism app, and GoGibbon, a dating app.
Want to create a social network?
Get in touch with our team and we will gladly help you with any of your ideas, provide an estimate for a project, and explain how to build a social network website from scratch.