SMASHLAB

MakeFive Online Community

MakeFive Community

We love sharing our favorite movies, music, restaurants, and almost anything else, with lists. Combined with our ability to build web apps, the idea of MakeFive was born. Built on the notion of creating "top 5" lists for everything, users would be able to connect over shared interests, extending their network beyond friends. We'd be lying if we said that we knew how much work would be involved, however, with building our own social network.more

How Much Time These Things Take…

We'd built substantial web applications before, but never to this extent. Following weeks of research, planning, and UX design, our initial prototype went live (within six months). From there, we continued to rapidly reiterate for many months, as we observed how people used the system.

It became a fully-featured social network, using custom algorithms for everything, whether it was ranking items in a list, or calculating points for user engagement.

Now How Do We Get Them to Use It?

To "seed" the site online, we developed a Facebook application, created widgets, and integrated with Twitter. Occasionally, we received a huge surge of traffic after appearing on a popular site like Digg. The first time this happened, we had to quickly adapt the site to handle literally hundreds of visits per second. We also explored enticing users through contests, giveaways, and earned community rankings. Lately, the site sees around 12,000 visits a day, which puts it on track to achieve over four million visits this year. Visit makefive.com to create your list.

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MakeFive is a content community based on lists. In it, members can create their “top five” (or ten, or thousand for that matter) on any topic, and then share these lists with others. Interesting and popular lists are featured prominently on the homepage.

MakeFive categories
MakeFive list

The community is shaped by a few key categories, ranging from Sports to Technology and Entertainment. Topics can be of pretty much any nature, with particularly popular ones being on subjects such as television, movies, and music.

MakeFive profile page
MakeFive community page
MakeFive contest page

Members can connect with friends, collect points, and interact with others in the community. They can also organize their selections for future reference and see how they rank against other MakeFive users.

The most active MakeFive citizens win weekly prizes, ranging from t-shirts to iPods and cash, for their efforts. The garments may be the most agreeable of the selection, however, given the bragging rights associated with them.

Collateral and identity documents, and the website, all employ the same MakeFive pink to represent the youthful spirit that users bring to the site. As strange as it may sound, making lists is fun, and that’s part of the visual story being told here.

MakeFive system message
MakeFive ad
MakeFive staff portrait
MakeFive top scores

Part of the MakeFive experience comes down to play, and a good sense of humor. This sensibility finds itself manifested in system messages, blog posts, advertisements, and a (perhaps disproportionate) amount of pixel-art themed imagery.

MakeFive blog
MakeFive winners post

The MakeFive development blog is a light-hearted bulletin board. On it, stories about the project, users, and recent updates, are all shared in a highly informal fashion. (Sometimes this results in cats causing apocalypse-like conditions.)

Scope

  • Project concept and business model development
  • Iterative research and development process
  • Exhaustive user interface design and testing process
  • Social-media focused marketing/publicity efforts
  • Extensive performance evaluation and tuning

Key Benefits

  • Affords users a social networking alternative
  • A repository of community feedback for any topic
  • Opportunity for targeted advertising placement
  • AJAX tools afford a very responsive user experience
  • Optimized for high server loads and scalability

Technology

  • Extensive use of AJAX and DHTML
  • Fully object oriented design, using PHP 5 and ORM
  • Subversion source control and versioning
  • Custom Facebook application
  • Integration with numerous third-party APIs

Feedback

"The concept is simple: you make a list of anything you want—the worst typefaces of all time, the best tech sites, or things to do after the economy collapses—and vote up the items you think should make it to the top five. The site is well-designed and fun."