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Über dieses Buch

Following the introduction of Myspace, Linkedin and Facebook, social networks have become part of people’s everyday life. New online social networks appear almost daily developed to attract the attention of Internet users. However, design and implementation standards and guidelines are often sacrificed for innovation resulting in unusable social networking platforms destined to be doomed. Within this context, the present book recommends a design and implementation methodology which will allow future social networking platform designers and developers to work in a scientifically systematic and sound manner to reach their goal.

The journey begins with the identification of the pursued objective of the social network and the potential participants. The presentation of various methods and techniques to collect the requirements of the intended user group of the social networking platform follows. Best practices, guidelines and standards that will facilitate the conceptual and physical design of the platform are portrayed. An analysis of advantages and limitations for existing implementation platforms and potential implementation techniques is subsequently offered to facilitate the selection of the most appropriate tool for the implementation of the online social networking website. Various representative visualization techniques are examined in order to enhance the visual representation of the social network participants. Various usability evaluation techniques are then presented to aid in the assessment of usability and improvement of the actual user experience. Finally, future trends in the design and use of social networks are presented.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Introduction

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Social Networks and Virtual Communities

Abstract
From prehistoric years, before even the formation of language, human beings tended to form communities in order to have more chances to survive in the primitive and hostile environment. Progressively the communities were expanded and developed by acquiring a more concrete structure with disperse roles and duties and were held together by family or kinship ties. At the same time the communication tools such as gesture, oral and later written language as well as different attitudes, customs and habits were further evolved to the contemporary mosaic of cultures and languages. With the advancement of sciences and especially sociology, scientists started studying the human need for belonging and living for a specific purpose.
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Designing Phase

Frontmatter

Chapter 2. Identifying Users and Their Tasks

Abstract
The first step towards the introduction of a new social network is the definition of its scope and the identification of the added value of the proposed network. What is the gap in the market that the proposed social network will cover? What social and communication needs does this network address? Why will people use this social network instead an existing one? What are the differentiation attributes that will be valued by the potential users? What is the main social object that the network will focus on? What will be the activities derived from the identified social object? Answering these questions at a primary stage will help the designer to focus the design on the appropriate mechanisms and components in the network facilitating future users and social interaction.
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Chapter 3. Requirement Identification and Analysis Techniques

Abstract
In the literature there are several requirements engineering methods that can be used in order to elicit as many requirements as possible for a new information system. These methods can be categorized in terms of different factors. One such classification depends on how the method is applied e.g., directly to the actual users of the system or the developers or experts [55].
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Chapter 4. Design Principles and Guidelines

Abstract
Chapter 3 discussed the planning of UCD in the development of the social network including the specification of the context of use, the identification of potential user groups and the analysis of their characteristics as well as potential tasks, and finally, the user requirements analysis using different methods.
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Implementation Phase

Frontmatter

Chapter 5. Implementation Techniques

Abstract
The acceptance of the system prototype by tentative users indicates the completeness of the conceptual design and the beginning of the implementation phase. Before the implementation there are, nonetheless, several issues that must be taken into consideration in order to proceed with the development of a usable and stable online system. These issues mainly concern the initial user requirements derived from the requirement analysis, the results stemming from the conceptual design evaluation, and practical issues inherent in the development process, such as the adopted methodology, the software platform and the tools to be used, the tentative software system architecture, etc.
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Chapter 6. Existing Development Platforms

Abstract
The development of a social network platform requires laborious effort not only in the implementation process but also during the deployment and maintenance phase. In previous chapter all the implementation considerations were presented ranging from infrastructure options to privacy and security issues. In the most available social networking development platforms a number of the aforementioned considerations may have been already addressed which makes them an alternative possibility especially in cases that people who are not so familiar with programming want to easily setup a social network. In this chapter, currently available social network platforms will be presented with their corresponding advantages and limitations.
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Chapter 7. Visualizations of a Social Network

Abstract
Information visualization has its roots into the early cartography and visual representation. The first evidence of visualization ages back to the second century bc in which the ancient astronomers tried to depict the orbits of the known planetary objects. Later on with the advancements in the mathematical and statistical sciences, different visualizations appeared and were used in various other disciplines such as medicine and social sciences [54]. Some well-known examples of how information visualization was used before the advancement of computers is the map of Napoleon’s march to Moscow and its corresponding retreat designed by Minard, Florence Nightingale’s death rate reduction diagram in hospitals after the implementations of the suggested changes and the Soho cholera epidemic in London in 1854 by Dr. John Show in which it was possible to identify the source of the contagion [155].
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Evaluation Phase

Frontmatter

Chapter 8. Usability Evaluation Methodology

Abstract
The last phase in the designing and developing an online social network platform is the evaluation cycle. It is essential to evaluate the design of the system from the initial stages in order to ensure its compliance with the requirements of the targeted users. For that purpose users’ participation and continuous evaluation in every stage of the design process is of paramount importance. Hence, in the design and implementation of the system, several evaluation iterations either with users’ or experts’ participation should be conducted employing different evaluation methods depending on the stage of the development life-cycle. The principal objective of the evaluation iterations is to determine, at every stage, the degree of usability of the system.
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The Future

Frontmatter

Chapter 9. Conclusions and Open Issues

Abstract
The main objective of this book has been the presentation of a series of design and development techniques to create a successful online social network. The presented methodology aims at the application of several best practices and well-established techniques from various scientific domains towards the designing and development of a social network platform that will be user-friendly and usable for the targeted group of people.
Panagiotis Karampelas

Backmatter

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