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December 12, 2005

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'Ghetto' as Design Choice

I know at least one designer for whom the insane popularity of MySpace is like an icy dagger forever twisting in his heart: How can they use it? How can they like it? IT’S SO UGLY.

So I was interested to see this (light) analysis of why MySpace works. Even better, it turns out, are the comments on the post (blogs are cool like that) — they really dig into the ins and outs of MySpace’s design, or lack thereof, and its success.

(Via Jarah.)

Posted December 12, 2005 at 12:33 | Comments (4) | Permasnark
File under: Briefly Noted, Media Galaxy


"Recently purchased for over $580 million by News Corp." (!)

Gannett buys the Detroit Free Press, News Corp buys MySpace, next thing you know, Haliburton will buy MSU, and then evil empires will entirely control my life.

While I do think MySpace users appreciate the fact that they can make their user pages look hellafugly, I don't think users appreciate that the site looks and works like crap. It works better (i.e. quicker, with more features) than Friendster did when MySpace came out, but it's an utter disaster of design and functionality. Adding a comment to someone's profile requires going through a torturous series of steps. Clicking on "Browse" brings up an advanced search, which isn't available when you click on "Search." That people put up with all of it indicates how far they'll go for some social networking.

I would definitely not put MySpace in the same design bucket as Craigslist. Craigslist actually does look low-fi. MySpace still looks corporate, just fugly.

For the record, I agree completely -- & also with the first commenter on Jarah's post. MySpace could suck a lot less and still be hugely popular.

"MySpace could suck a lot less and still be hugely popular."

Sure. Don't get me wrong, I can't stand MySpace. Search, as Matt notes, blows; it freezes up Firefox something awful; it has TONS of unique demographic data yet serves up ads with a target the size of the milky way. But I'm willing to entertain the notion that the craptacular design might have had a positive effect on user adoption early on, allowing folks to believe that MySpace was a service cooked up by that nice young man Tom in his bedroom late at night. Bad design certainly didn't harm them significantly- judging from people's profiles, users luuuv the painful design.

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