Engaging User Experience

We usually try not to do this too often, but there were so many valid points in this article by Smashing Magainze that we just had to share. This short analysis takes a good look at user interaction, design, and site architecture on two very popular social networking platforms: Facebook and Mysapce. Learn about the differences between the two and why one is more successful than the other: 

Facebook vs Myspace

Facebook has more than 500 million users, and that number is growing steadily. MySpace has plateaued at around 125 million. How has MySpace, once the leading social network, fallen behind by such a large margin? There are a number of reasons, but design seems to be one of the most obvious (Newsweek and Mashable seem to think so, too).

Much to its detriment, MySpace allows users to apply their own style sheets. I can imagine the brainstorm that led to this decision: "Wouldn't it be great to let users customize the look of their page? People love to make things their own and flaunt their personalities. This will surely encourage new users and give us the edge on Facebook. Hurrah!"

MySpace somehow failed to realize that most people's design education consists entirely of WordArt tutorials taught by Microsoft's Clippy. Perusing MySpace profiles is torturous. Hideous background images overshadow content, while animated GIFs and illegible text make for an irritating user experience.

Facebook realized that people want to connect with friends more than they want to customize style sheets, so it offered users a clean and uniform interface. Everything was nicely designed; nothing was gaudy or tasteless. The whole experience was much more visually appealing. While MySpace was pushing personalization, Facebook was refining a community to change the way we interact.

To Sum It Up

  • People are programmed to judge by appearance, so every interaction they have needs to be groomed to visual perfection.
  • To maximize appeal, designers must be observant of the collective subjective.
  • Design is not superficial. It can be your greatest competitive advantage.
  • Visual distinction becomes a mnemonic device for your product. Incorporate it to increase awareness and encourage recall.
  • Allowing others to control your appearance, while nice in theory, can lead to chaos and brand deterioration.

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Ridgeline Graphics Inc. is a visual communications company based in Wenatchee, WA. We specialize in Brand Development by focusing on Graphic Design, and Print Production.

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