Can A Design Entice One Billion Users From Facebook?

25 Sep

by mark-appleton 25.09.12

In August 2003 we weren’t Facebooking each other, we weren’t Tweeting each other, most of us were probably texting, maybe even talking, some of us however, some of us were on MySpace.

MySpace started in 2003 and was purchased by News Corporation in 2005 for $580 million. Between 2005 and early 2008 it was the most visited social network site in the world even surpassing Google in 2006 as the most visited site in the US.

However, it was in 2006 that Facebook opened its virtual doors to the world, or anyone with a valid email address at least, and this, as it would turn out, was MySpace’s decline.

It took just two years for Facebook to surpass MySpace’s unique visitor numbers and despite attempts from MySpace to redesign the site time and time again the visitors continued to defect.

In 2011 Specific Media Group and popstar Justin Timberlake purchased MySpace for $35 million, a colossal loss for News Corporation.

Since then MySpace has become the butt of many jokes and these days is mainly used by musicians, bands and DJs to showcase their ‘talents’ and hopefully get noticed.

So what next for a site that has changed hands so many times? What next for a site that has around 25 million unique US visitors per month, compared with Facebook’s 138 million?

The answer would seem to be, again, design. The site, and various parts of it, have undergone a number of designs over the years even the logo wasn’t immune to the tinkering.

This time however, MySpace have really gone for it with a complete overhaul that looks heavily influenced by touch screen technology and tablets.

The new design is ‘swipeable’ to the nth degree with an almost Pinterest look about some parts of it, it appears much more interactive than previous versions and more than Facebook, in fact you could argue it leaves Facebook looking a bit, well, 2000s.

As my colleague Alastair Roberts noted ‘the choice of music for the MySpace video is inspired’:

'Maybe I'm ashamed to want you back.
Maybe I’m afraid you’ll never stay.
Thought I hated you a long, long time.
There was my mistake.’

But is design the answer for MySpace? Can a newer, slicker design really make nearly 1 billion people switch from Facebook to MySpace? MySpace have previously said that Facebook isn’t a rival anymore and that they will focus more on being a ‘social entertainment website’, but this still requires users, it still requires content.

It’s difficult to find statistics later than 2006 for MySpace but back then they had just over 100 million accounts. Even if you were to double that figure, being overly generous, it’s still less than half the users Facebook has.

There’s no denying this will be a good looking site but if there’s nothing to read, why would users come? It will be interesting to see what happens and, perhaps, how Facebook responds given how much their users hate the design being touched!

See a video of the new design over on Vimeo.

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Tags: design MySpace Facebook

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