Myspace is back, again – UI Critique.

Following a dramatic drop in popularity and a few embarrassing gimmicky re-brands, it looks like Myspace is back! Is there still room for this old timer of a social network? Well, I’m no expert in that but I’ll sure pick its UI design apart.

Facebook still doesn’t seem to appreciate the benefit old social networks gave – musician profiles with easily accessible content and media streaming. Sure there are installable apps and customisations made available but they never seem to work like Myspace Music did in the early to mid 00’s. Myspace have clearly picked up on this with their revised UI design and branding…

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Music

Ignoring Spotify and LastFM in order to illustrate a point: the difference between the social network market in 2008 when Facebook overtook Myspace in popularity (statistic in relation to unique visitor hits) and now is that we now have alternative sources for music streaming and artist profiles. Soundcloud and Bandcamp are now the most popular platforms for musicians but seem to split musical interests right down the middle. Electronic artists flock toward Soundcloud where bands and instrumentalists are drawn to Bandcamp. Therefore my retrospective design brief for would be for Myspace to pick up its previous USP and take it back from Soundcloud and Bandcamp by unifying the two schools of music.

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Firstly, having been bought by Specific Media LLC and Justin Timberlake they are very definitely taking the ‘music angle’ which is evidenced immediately in the design of the new home page / dashboard. A giant picture of the man him self -JT. They’ve gone for a suave, stylish negative space, monochrome design with large light typography. Which is very nicely designed and in terms of the interface, everything is recognisable and very much user intuitive while still looking unique and appropriately branded. The horizontal scrolling could throw a few technophobes off their stride, it works very nicely with the Macbook track pad but I can only imagine it poses an ugly nuisance to PC users with an old £5 bargain bucket mouse.

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But does it’s design unify musicians? Does it allow for enough customisation that a death metal band can look super evil while an angelic opera singer can look heavenly? And do this while thoroughly integrating the Myspace brand?  Well the short answer – yes, it probably can. Though it’s difficult to tell at such an early stage as only pop artists seem to have profiles. However it’s design places user uploaded imagery at the top of its hierarchy. This is an aspect that will allow artists to give their profile an overall sense of their image as opposed to a Facebook artist profile which is very much Facebook branding orientated. The interface has an overlaid navigation window which remains the same no matter the profile you’re on, this is simply designed and portrays no real message – which is great as it means the navigation is always laid out in the same way and it doesn’t distract from the profiles theme.

Justin Timberlake new single

There’s now an integrated media player which is simple to use and doesn’t get in the way like the pop up window player they had on one of the many design revisions. – The pop up player was the final straw for me with the old Myspace , I really hate it when web developers code things to do the unexpected; you’d click play and a box would pop up. Surely a play button should play music. They got that right this time. Bravo.

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Annoyances

There are some slight annoyances: some pages scroll vertically and not horizontally – consistency is important in UI design. Some elements pop up over other elements and can make the layout look really messy. The close image button is very small and not too close to the image – I’m sure most people would look at the top right hand side of the image for a close button rather than the top right hand side of the entire page… (You can play ‘Where’s Wally?’ with the close button on the image above, it’s there, honest.)

Annoyances aside, its great. I truly believe Myspace could make a comeback, this is far from a social media prediction on my my behalf, it’s now down the the marketing and promotion, but as a message to Timberlake; if it doesn’t go quite right, don’t fire the designers, they’ve done a great job.

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