Experiences on the Front Lines of User Interfaces and Web Development

Myspace: a bewilderment to all website designers

Myspace, the popular social networking site (which, if you haven't heard of don't even bother reading the rest of this article), has an estimated 164 million registered users. It is the most visited website on the planet, and is obviously the top social networking site, beating facebook.com by about 10x the users.

The site itself is ugly and horribly designed. Navigating to different places, finding friends that don't happen to be in your top 8, and even editing and viewing your profile are difficult tasks. There is no consistency among users, no validation of html. Most of the backgrounds make the pages totally illegible. Myspace goes against just about every design recommendation by experienced web developers. Clicking on links before you've logged in don't even forward you to that page upon login! (Example, if you are not logged in, and you click "blog", it takes you to the login screen. After logging in, you are taken to your home page, not the blog page.) I am ashamed to say that I have even used or browsed myspace, but I was forced to for a work project. After looking more into their architecture and design, I became fascinated at how awful the design really is. The fact that I still have only been on myspace for perhaps a combined 30 minutes and 40 something page views and yet have noticed enough things to make me write this article, makes me wonder just how many other annoying idiosyncrasies I would find if I continued to use the website.

For some good website design practices, check out the following sites:
Web Design from Scratch - http://www.webdesignfromscratch.com/current-style.cfm
Ten Good Deeds in Web Design - http://www.useit.com/alertbox/991003.html

I have also included screenshots from the two most popular social networking sites today. I think facebook will continue to increase in popularity, not only because of the fad and viral effect, but also as people get more used to well-designed sites and are turned off by MySpace's inconsistent and ugly interface. Unless MySpace does a major overhaul to their design and navigation, look out. But meanwhile web developers such as myself will be scratching our heads wondering how 164 million people can stand spending time on a site such as MySpace.

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Facebook - clean, white, legible, components are expandable

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MySpace - lots of whitespace, horizontal scrolling, big images and ugly table borders

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MySpace - random background images making text illegible
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