After falling out of favor with internet users and losing the world's largest popularity contest with rival Facebook, Myspace has unveiled its radical new design to the public this week, allowing anyone to visit the site and create a new account.
The unimaginatively dubbed 'New Myspace' has been operational for several months, allowing users who requested invitations to test out the beta version before opening membership to the public today. Having had time to survey the competition, the new site has been completely rebuilt from the ground up. The result is a social playground that incorporates elements reminiscent of sites like Pandora, LinkedIn, Instagram, and the aforementioned Facebook and Twitter, all while feeling like an altogether different and more advanced experience than any of those outlets. The side-scrolling interface alone instantly separates 'New Myspace' visually, but it's not just a gimmick- the new interface is wonderfully intuitive as well.
Former Myspacers who may feel nostalgic will not find much they recognize upon visiting the shiny new site. Apart from the always arbitrary 'Top 8,' almost nothing is the same. Instead of glittery GIFS and customization overload, users will see a clean, minimalist layout, making good use of large images and fonts that will make Facebook's News Feed look cluttered by comparison. Instead of seeing Tom, everyone's first friend on the old MySpace, users will see a splash page adorned with a large black and white photo of Justin Timberlake dressed as sharp as the new website itself. Timberlake is reported to own a stake in the new venture, and he released his latest single exclusively to Myspace users last week.
The use of Timberlake's image not only lends star power and inherent coolness to 'New Myspace,' it's also a symbolic departure from the site's history. Social networking users today don't want to be friends with Tom, they want to be friends with Justin, and Myspace's greatest achievement may be the way it makes users feel that they really can be. The integration of music, art, and photography in the redesign gives the site a purpose, a reason for artists and fans of all statures to take notice. The embedded music player in the navigation makes it easy to find artists, genres, and stations to connect with, while also giving users the ability to create and publish mixes of their own.
Whether or not 'New Myspace' can compete for users with Facebook remains to be seen, but it doesn't seem likely, nor does it seem like the question that should be asked. If Myspace will thrive, it will be because of the quality of content being created and shared by its users, not by the quantity of people logging in daily. Judging by the new design, they may have already won that battle.