Have you heard the new album that dropped on MySpace today? A statement that no one says these days. While MySpace remains a cultural milestone in the world of social media and globalization through the World Wide Web, its cultural significance now is nearly obsolete. But in the early 2000s, MySpace was the social hub on the internet, being the first social media platform. For four consecutive years, MySpace was the number one social media platform, surpassing and its main competitor, Facebook. MySpace was also the first social media platform to reach a global audience, a key factor in the mission statement of most social media platforms. But before its glorious reign over social interactions on the Internet, MySpace has gone through many developments and changes in order to become the powerhouse that it was in 2006. These major changes and shifts are most visible through the face of the MySpace: its website.
As shown in the picture above, This was one of MySpace’s first website designs. The website’s home page is very simple and the layout is easy to maneuver through. But the main reason for this isn’t necessarily due to a minimalistic aesthetic, but rather that this website does not have much to offer. Their service is clear: MySpace in January of 1997 functioned as a place where businesses could create their own personalized Web Page for their company. There are only a few links on their home page, making this web design easy to understand for new Internet users. Seeing as their main function was to create web pages for businesses, their target audience was an older, more financially established audience who are work-minded and business formal.
It is also made clear that at this point, MySpace wasn’t a social media page, necessarily. Its main function was not to connect individual users to each other on a personal or ‘friendship’ level as social media usually does. But this original function is not too far off for how social media functions today: creating a page to promote who you are (“you” being the business or the business owner), inform users of your interests (or services for this matter), and holistically, creating an online persona for online users. Another prominent aspect to note is that this prototype for business advertisement is very synonymous to how businesses and brands advertise their products and services on social media today.
Jumping forward to 2006, the image above shows what the MySpace page looked like, now changing the brand’s representation as “myspace.” Even this subtle change in branding (which is smeared across the top of the website) might indicate their shifting target user. At this point, myspace had completely rebranded itself as (the first) social media page. Since myspace was the first, there was no template or guideline to follow when creating the website and its services. Just at a first glance, there is a lot more on the page that can grab your focus. There is a neat and organized tab bar at the top that can redirect any user to the different pages on the website. There are also tags right under the tab bar with popular searches and categories such as music, movies, games, chat rooms and etc. What is also interesting is the right side of the page. Right below the user login information, there is a section titled “Cool New People,” where they show a very abridged profile of a ‘new’ user on myspace. While the people in the pictures appear to be older, this web design’s main focus with this section is to promote more user to user interaction, furthering their tagline “a place for friends.” The small video advertisement below this is also more on the comedic side, showing that the content on this page is not formal or serious, but rather a place for enjoyment and pleasure, the pinnacle of social media.
This next image shows what the myspace homepage looked like in 2013 (which is very similar to its current design). By 2013, myspace’s popularity had steadily but notably decreased, no longer being users’ primary social media platform (now taken over by Facebook). By 2013, under different management, myspace redesigned their platform into a music streaming service (one of its most popular uses back when it was popular). In this web design, it is way busier and colorful, almost nauseatingly directing your attention in all different directions. The pictures are big and colorful, and the words are minimal. At this point in time, with the rise of Instagram, social media had become very visually (pictures/videos) based. It is clear that this web design is targeted towards younger audiences, those who most likely have the technological capabilities of streaming music off the internet and who use Instagram as their primary social media platform.
What is also notable about myspace’s 2013 web design is that their logo is place at the bottom left corner: small and colorless. It almost seems as though myspace does not want to brand itself as “myspace” anymore. Though myspace does not remain relevant in conversation of progressing social media platforms, it still holds a cultural value and image in society. Myspace has become a household word up to my generation (the generation after myspace) imprinted as an old website where people would interact with each other. Though myspace is extremely important in the conversation about social media, its modern reputation is not something that myspace today would want to advertise or remind their users. This could be the explanation to the small and easily passed over logo that they once proudly placed at the top of their website.