Let's face it, the user login/logout process in Joomla! is problematic. It's not problematic in the sense that it doesn't work. It's problematic for a "user experience" aspect. These user forms are the ones that always require the most "inventiveness" from the web designer. You can have a website that spans across 1000 or more pixels and yet your user login page, a page which should give incentives or explain a couple of things to your potentials users on why they should join your eshop or forum or whatever community is just 2 input fields and a submit button in the middle of the page.
We believe this can be improved in 4 ways: a) Allow the site administrator to display brief notes on why someone should join their site and what benefits they get (if any), b) provide clear options to login or sign-up, c) allow a visitor to use their favorite social network to instantly login and become a member of your site without the need to remember one more set of login credentials and d) give your user a dashboard, a starting point for your site's activities or services.
These may seem trivial to some, but various UI/UX studies and reports have shown that many websites lose members/customers on "hello". By combining common sense with a clear/minimal and easy to adapt on any template user login/logout/dashboard layout, we hit 4 birds with 1 stone. And to make it even easier for web designers, we already provide 3 different layouts for your login page and 2 for your user module. These layouts are built to be generic so in 95% of websites, you probably won't even have to adapt the CSS overrides of the extension.
In version 1.0.0 of SocialConnect we also integrated social login for the top networks worldwide: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google (and therefore Google+) and Ning. If you haven't heard of Ning, that because it's a "white-label" Facebook. You can't tell a community runs on Ning unless you view the community's HTML source code. But Ning currently powers hundreds of thousands of communities worldwide and it's provided as a cheap hosted service for what it offers. If you never opted for a self-hosted solution for your community or forum for various reasons (from spam to server performance and so on), Ning is a great platform to build your community on. And with SocialConnect you can easily authenticate your Ning community's users to your site.
In order to integrate these social capabilities to your Joomla! site via SocialConnect, all you need to do is create an "app" on each social network that is actually your site. That way you get the required authentication keys which you then enter into SocialConnect's component parameters. You don't need to activate all social login options. But the more you provide, the more you open your site to potential users from these social networks. For details on setting up each network, just download the PDF document we prepared for SocialConnect on our documentation section.
Any Joomla! site that uses SocialConnect can now allow its users to log in using some of these popular social networks. Wouldn't it be great to also see who's logging in and from which social network? This is where the SocialConnect backend module comes in. It not only provides you with detailed login details per network (and Joomla!) but it also provides true "working" counters on the maximun number of people browsing your site at the time. So you not only get to see who's logged in and from where, but you also get a complete view of how busy your site is at a given moment.
So what's next?The initial response was very overwhelming. In fact we sold a lot more licenses than we initially anticipated. Which is a good starting point :)
Our plans for the coming updates of SocialConnect expand to more than just a better user engagement. Of course we want to add more social login options (Yahoo!, Github and possibly Wordpress.com) and more 3rd party integrations (one-way login from SMF or phpBB forums - yes, you can forget about weird bridges between your forum software and Joomla!). But we also want to provide the integration of various important social widgets, e.g. Disqus & Facebook comments for K2, Joomla! articles and other extensions. Twitter feeds which you can actually blend with your design - now that Twitter is killing its public API and moving to closed "app" like widgets only. Or "auto post" features for K2, Joomla! articles and other extensions, so you can share on your social networks a blog post or product when it's created in the Joomla! backend (no more RSS to social sharing services). And actual "user pages" (much like what K2 does now) but integrated with other Joomla! extensions. E.g. a user page with their latest K2 items and Kunena forum posts (we love Kunena as you might have guessed!)...
We've already had requests for passing some of the social details we retrieve to other extensions like Kunena (it's already on our to-do list), JomSocial (still evaluating due to recent ownership changes), Community Builder or even e-commerce extensions like Virtuemart and redShop. Or ways to migrate from JFBConnect to SocialConnect. We're evaluating all these requests and we'll keep our users posted as we release new updates for SocialConnect.
Our goal is to make SocialConnect the integration hub for "everything social". So you don't waste time setting up various online services here and there just to maximize your site's "social reach". Just bring everything inside Joomla!.