Myspace, the site that once dominated online social media but has since floundered, has changed hands and invested millions into making a comeback. The new Myspace features a slick new design and splashy advertising campaign. Even big name recording artists like Lady Gaga and prominent online business like Instant Checkmate have established a presence on it.
It has since had some time to grow (the site currently has a little over 32 million users), so I thought it would be a good time to see what the new Myspace offers social media users.
When I first created my account and starting clicking through the site, I immediately forgot the tacky interface that Myspace featured in its peak years. In its place is a more minimalistic design, with a white and gray navigation bar with stories and posts presented in neat squares. The only color you see is from images of artists and other Myspace users.
I when I moved my scroll wheel, it caused the interface to scroll from right to left, rather than top to bottom. Playlists, blog posts, and pictures moved horizontally across the screen. This was disorienting at first, but it quickly felt more intuitive. It feels closer to browsing through an interactive picture book than browsing through a traditional web page. After getting used to the modern experience, browsing through posts on Facebook felt downright primitive.
Since the site is branding itself as a place where people can integrate their social media experience with music, it will live or die on the success of its musical features. One of the flagship features is “mixes” where users can choose from Myspace’s large database of available tracks to create and share a playlist. But how extensive is their track selection, really? I tried it out with what I thought was a challenging category: early ‘90s hip hop.
When I created the playlist, I was pleasantly surprised that they had most of the tracks I sought out, including “Livin’ Like Hustlers” by Above the Law, “Can I Kick It” by A Tribe Called Quest, and “Front Back and Side To Side” by UGK. The new owners of Myspace apparently have worked very closely with recording companies to give users a lot of music to choose from.
Playing it was easy too, thanks to the music player interface which stays on the bottom of the screen no matter where you go on the site, I could click around while still hearing some of my favorite tracks of the era.
The new Myspace has a very peculiar search system. I noticed right away that there isn’t a search bar, like there is with virtually every other social network in existence. Instead, if you want to search for something, you start typing something while you’re on the site. The page you’re on disappears and is replaced by whatever you typed followed by a giant, blinking cursor, and the ominous command “Start Typing.” The results of your search appear below it.
It’s a jarring way to search. There’s a reason why the search bar is a UX staple – it’s simple, it’s intuitive, and it works. Clearing away your entire web screen the moment you hit a button on your keyboard is confusing and unnecessary.
While the new and improved Myspace might have a few kinks to work out, it’s still a fun and high-tech music-centered social media experience. If the developers focus on solving some of the minor UX issues, they may become a major competitor in the world of social media once again.
About the Author: Brittany Ailes is a writer in Syracuse, New York. He writes about web design, social media, and online user expereince.