How bad design killed MySpace
August 22, 2011 2 Comments
MySpace or My _____, as it is now known, was the ultimate holy grail of social networking way back then – those born in the 80s and 90s can reminisce with me…NOT!
You were out of the space of you were not in my Space. It was the undisputed leading social network that took over the world, the social drug that circles of friends log-in secretly behind computer screens during class . However, MySpace’s early success would eventually be its own bitter medicine.
I recalled how classmates and friends competed with each other to see who has the “prettiest and coolest” profile layouts. MySpace enabled each user to customise their profile by adding and altering their own HTML/CSS codes. To facilitate such demand, there were dozens of sites providing free ready-made MySpace layout designs based on a variety of themes: celebrities, weather, party, fantasy….etc. You just copied the code and pasted it into your profile palette. The task can be daunting if your customised buttons or images did not aim well at where the default links are supposed to be underneath…those who frequently design MySpace layouts would know what I mean.
Meanwhile, everyone who opened a MySpace account would have this default friend called “Tom”, whom I thought, since its “A Place for Friends” as their slogan points out, why the heck would I want him there anywhere? It was also the place for musicians to reach out to their target audiences since it provided the convenience to attach a music player to play selected songs, as well as send out multiple invitations and establish many viral marketing schemes. Rumours has it that Lily Allen’s claim to fame through MySpace was nothing but a marketing sham in order to attract more artists and musicians to its site… sorry Lily.
On the back-end side, MySpace was not compliant with the HTML/CSS citeria set out by WS3. With little set restrictions, malformed CSS codes and poorly contructed layouts meant longer loading times, or freezing altogether. It became a hotbed for spams and spyware alike, peppered with cheap-looking emoticons and irritating gif. banners. I can go on and on about its faltering elements which Wikipedia has pretty much got it covered in detail.
Despite that, we still had fun checking out our friends’ updates daily. We seemed pretty much accustomed to live peacefully with the faults of the network, until an avalanche of a new, burgeoning social network shook our deep slumber – Facebook.
How on earth were we mortals prepared that a mere college student our age would one day topple this giant from its pedestal? I know – a good user-interface that was clean, easy-to-use with a much faster downloading time. The opportunity for big money could not be easier.
Facebook’s USPs were practically the opposite of MySpace. No more fanciful layouts, kill off those spam comments and bulletins, and of course, ultra-privacy. The layout was monotonous throughout for every individual (and we appreciate it), and the apps and little games that came along with it were fun. See, you still can make money out of the cleanest and minimalist layout. Loading time was much faster, and getting automated reminders of your friends’ updates were one huge sigh of relief. New functions included update tweets (which Twitter eventually expanded upon), tagging of photos and the “like” buttons. Ads are strewn neatly on the right while our profile information sits still in a much more readable manner with black text on a white background. Can we never stop being forever grateful to the elimination of vommit-induced, coloured texts that became unreadable on multi-fanciful layouts in MySpace!
Necessary restriction enforcement by Facebook ironically meant greater expansion of creative apps, for the network was compliant with WS3 standards and the such, calling for proper web coding and WS3 complaint apps.
MySpace has since been close to reduced to ashes due to rapidly dwindling number of users eager to migrate to Facebook. Not only has it lost millions of dollars, it had to lay-off thousands of employees as a result. Their new look now eliminates all the blasphemous atrocities, having news feeds and functions similar to Facebook, catering to music and entertainment instead. My MySpace profile has since been altered and no longer in working condition after the changes. But the changes may have come too late to win back popularity if MySpace had not sat too comfortably for years in its trophy state, resulting in its complacency and insistence of its monopolist functioning.
The moral of the story? Well, the title speaks for itself!