BetterNetworker.com Launched - Social Network Joomla Conversion with 17,000 members!

jasonflenniken's picture

After about 4 months of development, we've launched http://www.betternetworker.com!

BetterNetworker is an online community for the network and internet marketing industry.

The original site was built on Joomla 1.0.13, along with community builder. The new community is now on Drupal 5.x.

Part of this build out involved converting all membership data, including friends, photo galleries, forum posts (from FireBoard), all content (6,000+ articles and videos), comments, statistical data, for over 16,000 users.

Since our site launch, we've gained over 1,000 members in a week.

Its full featured social network with features including:

  • Articles, Videos, Podcasts, Classifieds, Groups
  • Fully customized member profile layouts
  • Integration with PhpBB3 (migrated over 8,000 posts from FireBoard and Joomla)
  • Buddy system (User relationships)
  • Points and Rewards system
  • Twitter style updates (using Dodge)
  • Advertising (Using the awesome OpenX platform)
  • a whole ton of other stuff.

I'll be doing a full writeup on the experience, how it was built, very soon. A LOT of work was put into templating, design, getting the most out of the real estate, and making it a user friendly and modern experience, and making it perform well with the insane amount of data we're working to display on any given page.

There's a lot in store for this community, including real twitter integration, facebook integration, some ecommerce features, too much to list!

Feedback and questions are more than welcome!

Jason Flenniken

Comments

Re: BetterNetworker.com Launched

cwittusen's picture

Jason:
Congratulations; your site looks great; I am interested in hearing more about how you built your first page, is it by panels? Additionally, what modules are you using?

Great work, looks very nice.

Regards,
Chris W

Regards,
Chris W

thanks Chris

jasonflenniken's picture

I started out building with panels, then, after much deliberation, decided it was just adding way too much bloat, both from a module standpoint and from an html standpoint (wow look at all those extra divs)

I wanted complete control over certain layouts, so about 5 weeks into the project, I uninstalled panels, and went to work making template files for the home page, user profiles, certain content layouts, etc.

It was a ton of work, but ultimately if you want total control over output and functionality, its better to do it from scratch.

I'm going to do a full write up on it, as theres a lot to it. I'm using a boatload of modules. Unfortunately i need just about all of them! Caching is saving my butt on this one, as theres a lot going on.

I'll post the write up link when I finish it.

J

Jason Flenniken
http://www.cadenceinteractive.com

Jason Flenniken

The full list of modules

mightyworkshop-gdo's picture

Hi Jason, I can't wait for the full list of modules. It would be really helpfull if you can publish it. Regards and good luck with your project.

Another question

cwittusen's picture

Jason:
I appreciate the response; one more question then. So your first page (front page) is built by blocks then? I really like your first page and I'm looking to do something similar and I was told to use Panels and I am trying to avoid it.

Regards,
Chris W

Regards,
Chris W

Site looks great - another question

generix's picture

Yes, the site looks great. I did have a question on what Feed Module you are using to bring in your 3rd party RSS feeds?

@cwittusen - yeah its built

jasonflenniken's picture

@cwittusen - yeah its built by blocks and by hand. I'm using a different .tpl file to build it than the inside pages of course. Most of them are blocks, but I'm using blockcache to display cached versions of them. The blocks are pretty much all called directly from php code instead of using regions. That way I could lay the page out exactly like I wanted to using divs and css, then just call the (cached) block using php in the .tpl file.

A lot of what I'm doing for areas like the latest members is calling custom code/snippets/queries. I would make a custom block, include the php file from my templates folder, do whatever mojo I want there. The advantage here is that I can then use blockcache to cache my custom code. Works great for things like the new members which is an expensive query when you've got 17,000+ users and you want to get 15 random ones. I just refresh it every 5 minutes with blockcache.

I'm using magic tabs for the tabbed areas, views slideshow for the flashy-thingy, logintoboggan tweaked a bit for login area.

@generix - I'm using SimpleFeed for the aggregate stuff. I put a bit of logic in the node template for feed details so I could put a header on them to credit the blog it came from.

J

Jason Flenniken
http://www.cadenceinteractive.com

Jason Flenniken

captcha

jonl-gdo's picture

I tried several times to register at the site, but failed captcha every time. Wondering if others are having that experience? I'm pretty clear I entered the captcha correctly.

on failing captcha

Cliff's picture

Joni, I haven't had the experience of failing captcha every time, but I don't think I have ever gotten through on the first time. And for the life of me I couldn't see anything the pattern could have been other than what I entered.

I hate it. And I know that people who rely on assistive technologies hate it even more. It might screen out all the bots, but it sure isn't friendly to humans.

Based on Jason's response:

earnie's picture

Based on Jason's response: Are you sure you entered the letters exactly WiTh the SaMe case and without spaces?

Absolutely

jonl-gdo's picture

I entered very carefully: exact letters, exact cases, no spacing. I tried it several times, looking very carefully at the letters I was entering before I submitted.

I have a theory about a potential bug here. I'll post it in response to Jason.

we've had folks signing up

jasonflenniken's picture

we've had folks signing up all day, about 50 so far, and I just tried it myself. the letters are very clear (using CSS captcha) and it worked right away. Can you maybe send me a screen shot of what you're seeing?

I hate captcha too, but its a necessary evil. Its either that or require confirmation emails which is somewhat of a hindrance to simple user registration

Jason Flenniken
http://www.cadenceinteractive.com

Jason Flenniken

My hunch about the problem

jonl-gdo's picture

I don't necessarily hate captchas when they're reasonably clear, and when they work. This captcha was very clear, and I made several attempts. Misreading it wasn't the problem.

However my first attempt failed, and I think that might have been due to a typo on my part.

I've gone back, and joined successfully, this morning.

I suspect there's a bug such that, if you fail the captcha initially, it doesn't recover unless you start over from scratch. I.e. if you simply re-enter the captcha and try again, submit fails even if you've entered the captcha correctly.

interesting

jasonflenniken's picture

hadn't tried that.. I'm considering moving to mollom. I had reCaptcha up for a while, but honestly its so hard to read some of their stuff some times, but at least it had an audio option. Haven't tried mollom yet but may do that next in case there really is a bug in the CSS captcha.

thanks for the input!

Jason Flenniken
http://www.cadenceinteractive.com

Jason Flenniken

Great Job on Integrating all that Functionality

josephgut's picture

I really like your site - very clean, organized, and usable. I was wondering if you created your own theme from scratch or if you used an existing theme or started with a basic theme?

Thanks,
Joseph

How did you attract traffic?

hg2008's picture

Jason,

Its a great site - compliments on a site well done! When you started out, how did you attract traffic to your site? Can you share some ideas on that? What worked and what didn't work?

We had a pretty good user

jasonflenniken's picture

We had a pretty good user base already, but traffic is attracted various ways:

  • our mailing list
  • badges (using the referral module)
  • the invite module (with plaxo's contact list importer widget integrated into it)
  • and other methods - facebook, blogs, more of the traditional ways

the best way to really drive traffic (aside from the obvious way of having good content and a useful, usable site), is to get members motivated to spread the word. the invite module is essential here, especially with a contact list importer. We are going to run contests soon to give away prizes and free advertising to those who refer the most registered users in a given time frame (like say a month)

jason

Jason Flenniken
http://www.cadenceinteractive.com

Jason Flenniken

Hi, I'm curious what sort of

Flying Drupalist's picture

Hi, I'm curious what sort of results you've had with invite/referrals, because personally I've had not much in the way of referrals.

I don't have any hard

jasonflenniken's picture

I don't have any hard numbers, although I can tell you just from browsing the database that adding a contact list importer makes a HUGE difference. We often see runs of 30-50 invites at once from a single user.

Right now I'm using the plaxo contact list importer:

http://www.plaxo.com/api/widget

Since it was very easy to integrate. I'm planning to use one of the php libs available commercially down the road (as it adds more mail services and I can fully integrate and customize)

I would suggest considering running contests. Doesn't have to be fancy, but depending on the subject matter of your site, or run cash prizes for whomever gets the most registered referrals in a given time frame. People love free stuff, especially if its easy to invite (spam?!? ;) ) their friends to do it.

Jason Flenniken
http://www.cadenceinteractive.com

Jason Flenniken

Write up

sito99's picture

Hey just circling back, did you ever get a chance to put up that write up?

not quite yet!

jasonflenniken's picture

I've been so busy workinig on upgrades to the site, I haven't gotten there yet. I still plan on doing it soon, and I'll be able to include some of the experience since launching with drupal which should be insightful.

right now I'm doing a series of changes including implementing a new search engine, and a host of UI changes based on what we've seen so far. Stay tuned!

Jason Flenniken
http://www.cadenceinteractive.com

Jason Flenniken

list of modules

natwilson's picture

Great site Jason! Looking forward to that write-up or at least a list of modules. Best social site I've seen, very impressed!

Austin

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