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Building Social Web Applications [Paperback]

by Gavin Bell
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 1, 2009 0596518757 978-0596518752 1

Building a web application that attracts and retains regular visitors is tricky enough, but creating a social application that encourages visitors to interact with one another requires careful planning. This book provides practical solutions to the tough questions you'll face when building an effective community site -- one that makes visitors feel like they've found a new home on the Web.

If your company is ready to take part in the social web, this book will help you get started. Whether you're creating a new site from scratch or reworking an existing site, Building Social Web Applications helps you choose the tools appropriate for your audience so you can build an infrastructure that will promote interaction and help the community coalesce. You'll also learn about business models for various social web applications, with examples of member-driven, customer-service-driven, and contributor-driven sites.

  • Determine who will be drawn to your site, why they'll stay, and who they'll interact with
  • Create visual design that clearly communicates how your site works
  • Build the software you need versus plugging in one-size-fits-all, off-the-shelf apps
  • Manage the identities of your visitors and determine how to support their interaction
  • Monitor demand from the community to guide your choice of new functions
  • Plan the launch of your site and get the message out


Frequently Bought Together

Building Social Web Applications + Building Web Reputation Systems + Designing Social Interfaces: Principles, Patterns, and Practices for Improving the User Experience (Animal Guide)
Price for all three: $94.36

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Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Establishing Community at the Heart of Your Site

About the Author

Gavin Bell designs social web applications for the Nature Publishing Group. He is an interaction designer, community advocate and product manager. Since the early 90s, he has been writing and designing for the web. Large scale web applications covering identity, on-demand media, geolocation and social software have been the main focus of his work at NPG and previously at the BBC. He has worked in academia, advertising, publishing and developed multimedia software. He lives in London with his wife and two sons. Find out more on his personal site gavinbell.com and his blog take one onion.

Photo © James Duncan Davidson


Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596518757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596518752
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #751,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gavin Bell has been playing around with the Web since 1993. He has worked in academia,
designed multimedia CD-ROM applications, and worked in advertising. After
a few years at the BBC advising on how to create web applications and creating systems
to represent TV and radio programs on the Web, he is now at the Nature Publishing
Group, designing social software for scientists and speaking at conferences on the social
web and how to create it.
Gavin lives in London with his wife, Lucy, his sons, Oscar and Max, and their two cats.
He is looking forward to regaining family weekends, seeing friends, and writing code
to make social apps, rather than writing about them.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
If you are looking for and how-to guide, with code listings and practical examples you better pick another book. Gavin Bell covers the topic from an architect/designer point of view, he also tends keep in mind the business side of things, something I appreciated. This means the content will be valuable for a long time, since languages, tools and frameworks come and go, while the advice you can get from this book is platform agnostic. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a book with just dry theory, it's based on solid experience both from first-hand experience by the author and the way some major social applications have been build and evolved
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential guide to fostering online community February 15, 2010
Format:Paperback
Gavin Bell draws on his extensive experience to offer a well structured guide to adding community elements to a website or application. His book will help any professional planning a social strategy, designing a set of social features, determining the types of relationships to foster among users, and even determining how best to manage change in an existing site or online structure.

Bell covers a wide gamut of issues that a site planner will need to consider, from developing the data schema for people, relationships, and objects; to how best to expose APIs to third-party developers; to the process of rolling out a new product or feature. Anyone developing a social website or app should keep this book handy throughout the process.

Bell and I share a publisher and our titles cover some similar issues. When I first picked up Bell's finished book I gritted my teeth with envy. As I quickly devoured the book, though, I was relieved (or, at least I convinced myself) that our books are complementary and are each useful in their own way.

If you're looking for one book to guide you through the entire process, from conception to launch and into the life of a social web application, then this is the book for you.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars great ideas but very repetitive March 15, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is rich in important ideas and is definitely a must read for those interested in the social web. Unfortunately I suspect that it was either written in haste or (perhaps more likely) the author was still working out his ideas as he wrote it, because it is extremely repetitive. This constant reiteration does make the reading experience rather more hard work than it should be because the underlying material is strong and valuable. I am entirely confident that in the next addition he can easily take out 100 pages and the book will be the stronger for it. This is Gavin's first book and I don't think he was well served by his publisher. A competent editor could and should have pointed out the large areas of duplication. Nonetheless, and to repeat myself :), it is a must read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technological How-To Served with Social Context January 28, 2010
Format:Paperback
Gavin Bell's experience in technology and social networking software applications is wonderfully presented and organized. The book is targeted to the system designer rather than the coder - offering practical advice with a healthy dose of theory to explain why some interactions work and others don't. It is so rich in content, the reader will wear out his or her highligher in no time. The writing is clear and well organized with examples at every step. The author includes good graphics, references to interesting websites, chapter summaries and other tools to make the subject approachable to the reader. Anyone contemplating starting or adding a social web application will benefit from this excellent book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the other end of the telescope... February 14, 2011
By now4dw
Format:Paperback
My background is marketing, not programming. I'm IT literate but struggle with anything above simple HTML. None-the-less, I found extraordinary value in this book. Yes, it's technical. But not in a way that leaves non-programmers behind. I found it full of insights that will help ANYONE involved in ANY aspect of building a social site. Specifically, it has enabled me to much more clearly define the 'objects' of my social site and keep my developers focussed on those objects.

In answer to two of the earlier reviewers' comments that the author is repetitive, I can only state that after 40 years of leadership experience, I subscribe wholeheartedly to the 'Tell them what you are going to tell them; Tell them; Tell them you told them' school of thought. Gavin Bell does not go to that extreme but does often reinforce/enhance/distill an earlier concept. I found that a strong positive in helping me digest the weath of knowledge being shared.

If you want to understand why some social sites thrive while others fail, this book is a 'must read'!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Book for Social Web July 11, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have well over a decade developing, managing, and improving social computing and social web applications and this is the first book I have found that addresses many of the little things that make big differences. Gavin Bell provides not only depth and but breadth of understanding in this book across from development, design, and social implications that much be understood as one cohesive whole. This would be the first book I would recommend who are thinking about building or maintaining a social web application or service out on the web, inside the firewall on an intranet, or through a firewall to business partners or customers.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Gavin Bell's "Building Social Web Applications: Establishing Community at the Heart of Your Site" is an absolutely vital guide for anyone involved in the development of a social or collaborative web site--whether they are a UX planner, Information Architect, Software Developer or if they are involved involved in the Business Implementation of the Site. It successfully provides guidance in making the external behavior, appearance, application design, and community building efforts congruent with the Social and Collaborative goals of the site's users and implementation team. Like the best sort of User Experience guide, it does not offer a cookie-cutter by-the-numbers approach to all sites' development. Rather, it provides tools and a from the Goals and Audience definition-based approach to defining the appearance, programmatic behavior and recruitment activities necessary to make a site which meets and exceeds the expectations of user's and that will fully support their desired activities. It is a conceptual book which requires the designer/analysts thoughtful participation but all of the tools necessary to planning a Breakthrough Social/Collaborative Web Site are here.

My only quip with this outstanding handbook is that the title and publisher publicity do not (in my opinion) do an adequate job of explaining the intent, approach and richness of this volume. I would have titled it something more like, "A Complete and Thoughtful Handbook to Make A Social Web Application that is Exactly Suited to Your Target Audience and Their Activities"

--Ira Laefsky
IT/HCI Researcher and Consultant
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A good fundamentals book but a really long read
The books talks about Social Objects, URL design, Building Social Community, Releasing Features, Testing, Approach towards which features to build (verbs on nouns = activities on... Read more
Published 9 months ago by VM
5.0 out of 5 stars Exhaustive coverage of end-to-end application development
This book takes you from idea, to planning, to implementation, and to delivery of a web application. What I enjoyed most was the journey along the way. Read more
Published on December 28, 2011 by Nate Klaiber
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitely get it if planning to work on a social web application
The best thing about this book is that it'll definitely make you think about things you wouldn't have had otherwise. And important ones, I mean. Read more
Published on December 8, 2011 by Maraspin Stefano
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete guide on building Social Network
Original review written by Ognjen Palija, JUG Lugano, [...]

Internet today is full of different kind of social web applications, so building the new one is not an easy... Read more
Published on November 25, 2010 by JUG Lugano
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Advice on Social Website Development Practices
Gavin knows what he's talking about when it comes to Social Web standards while ensuring privacy is controlled by the end-user. Read more
Published on September 28, 2010 by Carlos Munoz
4.0 out of 5 stars Very useful requirements phase guide
This book is great for figuring out feature sets and functionality for sites where people can post, comment, or post content. Good practical discussion, but a little rambling.
Published on September 5, 2010 by Reynaldo Bo
1.0 out of 5 stars Not a good design book
I don't write reviews but felt compelled to commit on this book. This book is poorly organized; ideas are stated or briefly explained then referenced to in later chapters or pages... Read more
Published on April 22, 2010 by J. Bownes
5.0 out of 5 stars A pick for any programming collection
BUILDING SOCIAL WEB APPLICATIONS offers a different approach to social web marketing and teaches web developers how to build a web application based on different concepts of social... Read more
Published on February 20, 2010 by Midwest Book Review
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