Final Proposal

Project Summary

The main goal of my project is to produce all of the main elements required to build a small community based website. While my initial idea was to build a similar website/application to Last.FM, after researching PHP, and frequently using the website, I have decided that Last.FM is probably the leader in online music communities and would be extremely difficult to rival.

The website will hopefully be a prototype of an online music community. I would like to be able to give users the chance to sign up to my website and from their individual user areas, upload and share files, and discuss music. I have done a lot of research into online communities and how they function. The PHP is the focus of the site, and will take the most time to develop; whereas the actual HTML part of the website will take much less time to develop and I can put together the website in a short period of time. I would like to focus most of my attention on the development of solid PHP.This will also be beneficial to me in my final year project which will also be mostly based on functions which are made in PHP.

Target Audience/Users

The target audience of my website will preferably be music fans, possibly the same sort of audience of PitchforkMedia.com, or DrownedinSound.com. These websites are focused on music which is not generally in the charts, and have a very specific fan base. These users might be interested in such a website because Pitchfork and Drowned in Sound are mostly news websites, and do not provide much interactivity. This is where my website will differ, as it will give the users more freedom.

PHP Research

In order to understand PHP and how PHP websites are used, I joined many interactive web 2.0 websites. These include Myspace.com and Facebook.com, which are the two prominent current online communities. While these websites are two of the most popular web 2.0 sites (and possibly amongst the most popular websites online in general), they are by no means the only online communities.

A personal favourite is the music based website Last.FM. I have been a member of this website for over a year now and frequently use it to find new music and share my interests with other like-minded people. I think that this is a big factor concerning online communities; the fact that they can find a website specific to their needs despite what their interests may be. There are always like minded people, no matter how niche the subject.Popular functions of online communities tend to be the following:

·        The ability to add a picture or avatar

·        The chance to edit your own profile somehow

·        Being able to add other members 

Although this is just three functions, they appear to be the things that users expect when they join an online community. However, adjustments could be made for the fact that my site will be about music, as it will not necessarily be a social networking website.

Because I have spent a lot of time on Last.FM, I have a good understanding of the habits of the community. Music communities are different to the other social networking websites such as Myspace and Facebook, because activities are not as focused on chatting and meeting new people. Users are more interested in seeing each others musical tastes, comparing and sharing new music, and generally discovering music they would not have known about.  

Personal Goals 

This will be my first venture with PHP, and therefore I will gain all my experience with the programming language merely during this project. Due to this one of my main goals will be to create a working prototype of the website within the time limit. As previously stated, this project will help me greatly during my final year production project, which will run in the same vein. 

The first section of the PHP programming that I will focus on will be the Login section. Despite the fact that the tutorials for this are quite straight-forward, it is still a large part of the project, and testing this section will be very important. Another of my goals is to get the login PHP as close to perfect as possible so that I can reuse it again if necessary.  

A Gap in the Market? 

Although there are several different social networking websites on the internet, there are not many focused around online music. The website Last.FM is the leader in combining music and social networking, but as previously mentioned, it is very different from other social networking websites. I plan to make my site more like Pitchfork media in terms of the information it provides, but with a social networking feel to it, providing interactive content as well as letting the users have some control over their own user areas. I think that this could be popular because of the merging of two popular types of websites.  

Conclusion 

To conclude, I think that this project will be extremely useful to me in terms of learning new technical skills which are required to advance in the industry. I hope to greatly improve my knowledge of PHP, and become efficient in creating many of the elements used in online community websites. The final product should at the very least, be a partly working prototype of my community website, but I am hopeful that I will be able to take the website live onto the Internet and maintain it after the module is over.

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