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Reading the huge NY Times article about MySpace in today's edition, I started wondering about the site and the way to monetize it. (Lo and behold, I was beaten to the punch by Mike Davidson when he published his post this evening. Ugh!) I won't rehash what Mike said but I think he makes some valid points about the user experience on the site and the sobering effects of updating it's technologies.

I will talk to my personal experience, albeit limited, with the site and it's functionality. First things first, no, I do not have a MySpace account so you can't add me as a friend (you'll just have to come hang out with me instead). But I did have a page for all of a couple hours a few months back so I have been inside the realm of MySpace and played around with the clunky interface enough to write up this little post.

I can't disagree with Mike's conclusion that the site's pageviews would decrease by 66% if they updated to modern web design and application technologies. From the short time I have played around with the site, I've already been frustrated by the poor/broken functionality - to the point where I gave up and quit. But I also hung around and clicked maybe 60+ pages each time, trying to find the results I wanted. It makes me wonder if this was an intentionally built-in "feature" to MySpace in an attempt to raise pageviews and, in turn, profits.

As an example, Alexis just signed up for an account last week and I was trying to find her page to take at peek. She told me to go search and type her name. I did this but received results that, the majority of which, didn't have anything to do with either term "alexis" or "o'connor." In fact, the top result was for jonah d. who, to the best of my searching, has neither an "alexis" or "o'connor" anywhere on the page. What is the point of the search function if it gives me results that have nothing to do with my original query? My thought, up until today, was this is done to bump up pageview numbers, thus raising the amount of money MySpace can charge advertisers. Based on the Times' article, however, this doesn't seem to be the case... at all. In fact, the are charging a mere $0.10 CPM! So what is the advantage to this broken functionality? I'm not quite sure.

With over 70 million users I would imagine this has to be a complete drag on their servers and the cost of these inaccurate results, broken pages, etc has to be extremely expensive. By cutting down pageviews that are making little revenue for the site (a measly $200 million this year when Yahoo will be making 20 times that with a comperable pageview tally) and pageweight (I haven't mentioned the table-based layouts), I would imagine MySpace could not only make the site quicker but also save millions of dollars in bandwidth.

I understand part of the appeal of MySpace it the ease of customization but isn't this a poster child for moving to web-standards? The ease at which you can change a whole site just but using one file? Why would MySpace not have a user hidden style sheet and a user driven one? In fact, this would make the site even more personal but just creating a small template subsite where users who don't know CSS can change color, text, images, etc.

I've already seen some MySpace backlash in my demographic. Sure, most of the people I know have an account but there's only one (now two with Alexis) who actually use it. Most have given up on the idea. Granted I am on the crest of the MySpace wave, almost on the outside. Even so, in my younger sister's age range, she is more into Facebook, a site that does everything MySpace should be. Well designed, modern in it's technology and, for the most part, follows proper web standards. I would say Facebook will be bigger than MySpace but the site's one major drawback is having the [dot]edu email address. It's a great way to contain your user base to students but is a poor way to grow your business in a similar style to MySpace. But maybe that's not what Facebook wants and more power to them.

All this isn't to say that I'm against the social networking craze. I love my Flickr account, I use everyday, and, just recently, I found a old college friend on LinkedIn (James, I know I owe you a return email. It's coming dude... I swear). It's just the way MySpace, the largest of these types of sites, is going about it that irks me (does MySpace actually employ any designers?)

Either way, MySpace seems to be at a fork to me. It's vulnerable to competitors like Facebook but seems to oblivious to them.

"People are truly invested in the site," he (Chris DeWolfe, founder of MySpace) said. "All their friends are on it. They spent months building their profiles. And so the cost of switching is too high. If we keep building the features they want, they will stay on the site."

He is correct there. But if a site could come along where users could input their MySpace user name and password then transfer over the information on the account into a more usable interface, watch out. Until then, I guess I'll just have to keep rooting for the Facebooks of the world.

Add your own

#1 alexis

I agree with the awfulness of functionality that is MySpace. The ads are horrific and the search feature does blow (although I know the trick around that), but it serves a perfect purpose for stalking people of your past... or your boyfriends past... I could spend hours learning about people I could care less about. Consider it a gossip column of sorts, but free.

#2 alexis,,1760999,00.html

The BBC today unveiled radical plans to rebuild its website around user-generated content, including blogs and home videos, with the aim of creating a public service version of

Is this kinda like Newsvine??

#3 Addam

Like Newsvine? Maybe. I think this is more of an attempt to move in the realm that ABC and NBC have gone; allowing their television shows to be played online - with advertising. The blogging part of sort of like Newsvine in a way. Although, I think the BBC will have trouble, the way Newsvine does. I actually have an article saved right now as to the validity of most comments on blogs. I find most, for the most part, irrelavent and nonsensical. Everyone has an opinion, not everyone can form one. It'll be interesting to see how BBC regulates this, if at all. I guess the short answer to your question is yes, it is like Newsvine, but I'm not sure how everything will play out. It's a fun time right now on the web. You can create your own idenity based on what you comment and what content you link to (ie and Digg). I'm a bit buzzed right now so I'm not sure if this making any sense. Let's also hope I didn't reveal too much as to an upcoming article.

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