Web Experience Design for Socialists

Social media impacts nearly every facet of the digital experience - from the methods used for customer acquisition, to how response is measured (social analytics), and of course, in design. Consumers' expectations are obviously shifting and the more social you make your website, the deeper the user engagement will becomes with your brand. But how do you actually do that? Become a socialist designer. 


A new jQuery plugin captured my virtual fancy a few days ago and I believe it to be something that warrants (if not demands) greater exposure. It's called Socialist and if you've been actively looking for a way to easily aggregate all of your social media channel activity into a singularly social location on your website (and in the now popular Pinterest style layout to boot), you have to check it out. 

Socialist combines multiple social media feeds including those from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+, and Craigslist among others. The best part, however, is that Socialist also handles any RSS feed. With a little custom programming, the opportunities to use the jQuery plugin are mind-boggingly broad.

If that weren't enough to spark your interest, know that there are numerous customization options too. Socialist, of course, comes with its own CSS file that can be modified, but it also gives designers and developers control over the length of headers and text, the number of results, and the size of items as well. Just enough in our testing to make it a serious contender for inclusion on sites I work on and with.

Integration is rather simple. The Socialist .js plugin and the CSS file need to be placed in the section of your HTML document along with a link to the most recent version of jQuery (the minified version is optimal). From there, you'll simply need to include the social network information that you'd like to showcase. Check out the source code in the snippet below or at the demo example at Javascript Problems - a domain I own that I decided to us exclusively for testing Socialist (it is not affiliated with Website Magazine)

Most of the supported networks are rather straightforward but both Craigslist and Flickr require a bit extra - an API key in the case of Flickr and an area designation in the case of Craigslist.


Socialist is dependent on two plugins to provide the responsive layout (Isotope) and the cross-domain ajax features.


Here's a screenshot of how it looks - took me a total of ten minutes to get it up and running. 


Javascript Problems