I have been working on some new MySpace 2.0 profiles so I thought I would write a quick post about the new format, a few thoughts on where the social networking website is at from my point of view and what my clients can expect with it in the not too distant future.
I have worked on a number of profiles over the last few years so I can say I have experienced a fair amount of problems along the way. In a nutshell though, profiles took longer to design than standard web pages but the end result was normally what the client wanted – a bespoke profile which fitted in seamlessly with their company or brand. The good thing about the original 1.0 profile format was that it allowed full control of the whole page with HTML and CSS. It could mean custom designed content could be layered over the top of the standard myspace page which meant the end product would mean most things were possible. It wasn’t the best method of creating a web page, but it worked quite well. Since these features were open to everyone, it gave the average user unrestricted access to ruin their profile to the point where it wasn’t accessible. This meant from an end user point of view, you didn’t need to trawl the site too much to find some awful design and inaccessible content.
MySpace has since changed. Along with a rebrand, they have made profile editing functionality easier. It’s technically more advanced too, since profiles can now be edited more directly and visually rather than having to rely on HTML / CSS. This is done using some nice new HTML5 markup which alone is a huge step forward from the previous table heavy platform which was widely regarded as a mess by most web designers. These advancements also bring some tight restrictions, supposedly to make the editing procedure easier, more accessible and less problematic. Adding custom CSS or HTML has been taken out or at least limited to using a self contained ‘HTML Box module’ rather than profile wide stylesheets. Blocks of custom content can be dropped into the layout, but much of the information on the page can only be formatted by using a small selection of styles. These are by no means exhaustive but should be a good starting point for most people. From my point of view I would much rather more control or ideally be able to overrule the current page styles by attaching my own stylesheet. Some areas of the page, such as the comments cannot currently be customised at all in terms of their appearance so for now these parts of the 2.0 profile will look generic when comparing them against other 2.0 profiles. Fonts also have to be picked from a small selection, but should satisfy most peoples needs. This means from a design and development point of view the new MySpace does not give the full access and control that it did before. Other modules can be added to the profile such as Video, Image Galleries and Shows & Events and more and arranged into the profile using drag and drop rather than CSS. The general visual design comes from a background image which can be no bigger than 1600×1600 pixels and a colour pallet of 5 colours. A marquee can be added which increases the amount of space between the Myspace header and the start of your profile. This is quite neat but has a maximum initial height of 250 pixels which is limiting (see image below).
It is now no longer possible to revert back to the old 1.0 profile format which is annoying for my clients who have paid me money to create bespoke designs in the past. It seems like MySpace now want everyone to be using the 2.0 format – I’m looking out to see if this changes and the option to revert comes back.
So in conclusion MySpace has been improved for the average user, but some of the neat tricks are no longer possible. These restrictions make it impossible to break a 2.0 profile, but I would rather have the option of breaking things if it opened up the possibility of making it look amazing! Let me know or add a comment if I have got any of this info incorrect and I will update this post.