July 6, 2008
I have always suspected that MySpace sucked. More than once, a profile page has killed my browser or consumed all resources on my machine for half a minute. In fact, at the time of this writing, my Safari seems to have died.
However, I always thought that the MySpace users were to blame. I knew that you can add HTML and CSS to your profile, so I assumed that people just messed up their profiles.
While that may be true, the MySpace site itself is just absolutely bloody ridiculous.
My wife is a singer/songwriter, so she needed a MySpace profile to demo her work. Naturally, I volunteered to help her create one.
Now, for some reason a “MySpace Music” profile is different from a regular profile, which translates into additional punishment trying to figure out how the s*** works.
Alright, enough bitching. I believe the following facts speak for themselves:
1) From her public profile, she can click “My MySpace” to reach a personalized, dashboard-style page where she can check out her own “mood” and enjoy lots of colorful ads.
2) Clicking “My account” brings up a section where she can change her email-address etc.
3) Selecting “Profile” -> “Edit profile” allows her to change “Interests”, “Background”, “Education” etc. In short: Social networking metadata.
4) Surprise #1: None of the information entered in (3) are visible in her public profile!
5) Selecting “My account” -> “Edit profile” bring up an entirely different section, allowing her to edit information relevant to her music (add upcoming shows, upload songs etc).
6) The information entered in (5) is displayed on her profile.
So there you have it. Two completely different meanings of the link “Edit profile”, depending on where you find it. Usability people should be weeping by now. And this is just one example of the brokenness – I won’t bore you with details of how confusing the danish translation of the site is. Even on the all-US site, you will find typos and spelling errors.
I suspect MySpace has become insanely popular for the same reason that Microsoft did: Lack of competition.
As far as I know, MySpace was the first site to offer free MP3 hosting for amateur artists. And I certainly recognize that it has helped a lot of musicisians expose their music. This is good – we all benefit from this one way or the other.
But as in the Microsoft case, the inertia of beating the competition is truly scary. Both “MS’s” are clearly deficient compared to their competition. Only diehard fans will suggest otherwise. However, they both have huge market shares, so they remain the default choice. Come to think of it, this is the same mechanism that keeps IBM consultants in business.
I need to get some sleep now. This is just too depressing.