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Party with monsters

01 Mar 2012

Party with Monsters is New Zealand’s fastest growing social networking website. I built it in about a month while staying at a friend’s apartment on Parliament Street in Auckland. I wanted to combine my favourite elements of Twitter and Facebook and add a creative flair, inspired by the distinct New Zealand flavour seen in media and advertising campaigns – for example, the ‘Don’t Drink and Fry’ campaign, the ‘Stay in Mantrol’ advert and the 2degrees ads with Rhys Darby.My name is David Apple and I’m a British web developer. I’ve always been very fortunate in my career and it has afforded me the opportunity to explore the world. While studying music technology at university in England, I started an online music website called House of Tracks. It was through this that I began to appreciate the benefits of social networking sites and, at the time, everyone was on MySpace. My friends and I would spend hours adding new friends on MySpace, knowing that it would rapidly increase the amount of traffic to the House of Tracks website, as well as increase brand awareness and give PR companies the confidence to let us interview the major indie bands of the time.As the indie bands of the mid noughties died, so did MySpace and so did my music website. The bands were replaced with the likes of Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and dubstep and the new promotional vehicles became Twitter and Facebook.I settled into Auckland at the start of 2010 and landed a job working for Rip It Up magazine’s website. A big part of my job was to grow the company’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, and I quickly realised how much Kiwis embrace social networking. From a music perspective, when compared to the UK and Australia, there is a notable lack of big gigs in New Zealand. However, there is a thriving underground of house parties and smaller gigs, and it’s through the internet that people find out about these events – sometimes only a few hours before they happen.When I saw the movie ‘The Social Network’, which tells the story of the origins of Facebook, I felt inspired to start a new social network for Kiwis.I personally find Facebook really distracting and time consuming. I think people visit Facebook with the best intentions (to find out about local events, tell their friends some important information or invite people to their party) but end up wasting time, getting distracted by watching viral Youtube videos, getting involved in arguments with their friends (because someone’s update has been taken out of context) and playing Farmville.I find Twitter less distracting and more concise, but it’s almost a step too far in the other direction. Each tweet is treated like an isolated event making it difficult to follow conversations happening with lots of people and imposing a limit of 140 characters.My final grumble is in regards to design. Both Facebook and Twitter sport a sterile pale blue colouring, making the user feel like they are walking the cold dead corridors of a city hospital. For a form of media that is supposed to be about having fun with your friends, the design is really reserved. I wanted my social networking site to feel more like a party, hence the name.I launched Party with Monsters just before Christmas to try to tackle these issues. I built the website using Wordpress and heavily adapting the Buddypress plugin. I created a buzz around the website on a handful of New Zealand competition sites and it’s really gathering momentum. I plan to roll out new features such as user awards, invites and the ability for users to design their own monsters over the next few months.If you want to join the party, go tohttp://partywithmonsters.co.nz