Close your eyes. Imagine that it’s circa 2007. You run home from school, hop on the only desktop computer in the house, plug the phone jack into the modem, and log onto MySpace. You’re greeted by a ton of messages, friend requests, and new picture comments on your latest duck face selfie (see Figure 1). That feeling could very well be defined as the best feeling in the world, but obviously not better than getting a new pair of shoes. MySpace was the once the most visited website on the internet and kickstarted the social media era with 80 percent of social networking traffic.
“MySpace was the early winner and should have gone on to great glory.” (Hartung, 2011). However, as we all know, MySpace is now a thing of the past. Unfortunately, they were beat out by Facebook for various reasons, but I believe user experience was MySpace’s biggest downfall. I enjoyed customizing my personal MySpace page (we all can add coding to our resumes) and adding whatever song matched my mood, or so I thought. “MySpace was difficult to use for new users. Profiles could be customised to make them more attractive and personalised. But that meant there was lack of familiarity while navigating the site — every page looked different, and cluttered, even tacky. Add to that, it was tedious to use as many customized profiles were sometimes unreadable. Worse, many profiles had heavy elements with videos and music which made it terribly slow, that in turn led to a frustrating user experience.”(Rajaretnam,2017).
I was pleasantly surprised when I created a Facebook account and could not customize my profile. Nonetheless, I quickly conformed to the new social network’s UX constraints. I enjoyed the aesthetically pleasing, minimalist design. Sometimes, less is more. MySpace failed to implement key constraints to help shape their identity. MySpace also failed to outsource the development of their apps, leading to bugs and even more bad user experience. Furthermore, the structure of MySpace was too deep. Users had too much control of use, causing inefficiencies.
Looking back on my own experience on MySpace, it felt very juvenile after a while, and on the other hand, Facebook felt more mature immediately. For a while, I went back and forth between the two networks until I found myself logging into Facebook more and more. MySpace was constantly changing and no longer felt authentic. The main focus and goal of the site seemed to shift from the common user to music professionals.
I always wonder, if MySpace would still be thriving if it innovated, grew with its users, and were more concerned with user experience. Facebook, is the polar opposite of MySpace, but I wonder how long it will survive.