I write this at a time where Facebook has decided to enter the stock market. Of course it would seem like a good idea to invest in it given it’s sheer popularity, but that is until something overtakes it, the same way Facebook has overtaken MySpace in recent years. Now what site is exactly going to overtake Facebook, well that is currently unknown. But as a prediction, here is what I think the “next Facebook” will/should be able to do.
Obviously it will have many similar aspects of Facebook such as sharing pictures, videos, profile pages, etc. However, if you are going to beat Facebook, you need to improve upon it. Customization is key for any future competitor of Facebook. There really aren’t many aesthetic customizations users can make to their profiles, and this should be capitalized on by any potential Facebook successor. More customizable privacy options as well as filtering options would also be minor, but welcome improvements.
So you can’t bring down the social network giant with simply some improvements to a previous template. There needs to be new offerings not available to Facebook users. If a site is truly going beat Facebook it needs to consolidate our lives on the Internet. The social aspect has already been covered, but what about things like having an email through the site to use for work as well as having a built in search engine for research to be done. These would allow our social and work lives to be seamlessly connected and with less open tabs.
Entertainment online is almost as vital as the social life online. People want to play games, watch funny or entertaining videos, or just have access to a topic they find interesting. For this I would think of something similar to Digg or Stumbleupon being built into the site and tailored to a users preference of topic.
Also social gaming is currently booming and if a site really wanted to take it to Facebook, it would need to be a serious game platform that can handle things a little more complex than Farmville as people are going to want better games as social gaming evolves. Also the next Facebook would absolutely need to have some sort of points system or rewards program. The best example of this is Peoplestring which pays users some of their ad revenue for actively participating in the site, playing games, referring friends, and partaking in surveys. If a future site had a similar points sytem and offered rewards such as money or even discounts on things the user is interested in, then there would be greater incentive for people to join that site as Facebook currently offers nothing of the sort.
Finally, from a structural standpoint the site would need to just slightly one-up Facebook in a few key areas. One of these is user privacy as well as safety. Secondly it needs to have a smooth interface that can link all of these parts together as well as a smart use of space so the screen isn’t cluttered. For example, when I can cover that right column on Facebook with duct tape and have virtually the same experience, it says something about pointless ad placement. Pages should be organized, easy to navigate, interactive, and most importantly have a nice aesthetic feel to it.
Maybe Facebook will be overtaken by something completely different, or it may implement some of these ideas itself in the near future. In essence the next big website is going to be a smartphone online. Smartphones consolidate our social lives, work, and entertainment in one device. By the same token, a Facebook competitior is going to need to do the same and maybe a little bit extra if it expects to topple the digital giant of the decade.
This post was written by Kayvon who is a student and writer. For more web design related posts check out his website at http://www.siteunleashed.com/