It’s hard to believe that it was only 10 years ago, almost to the day, that worldwide social media changed forever. In many ways, August 2003 was when the deeply engrained rituals of logging on, liking, sharing and updating first began for us all. It also marked the day that social media got its most famed user. Staring from computer screens was the gawky IT student named Tom; a guy that almost everyone across the world would at some point come to look at and connect with in years forward. But with the recent relaunch of Myspace comes the removal of the stalwart face, the addition of Justin Timberlake, and a myriad of other revolutionary changes. 26 year-old Sydney-born, Brisbane and LA-based Alex Naghavi has just spent the better part of two years in North America as a senior designer with Josephmark digital studio on the redesign – and she definitely had her work cut out for her.
At its peak, Myspace had 400 million users across the world and boasted itself more visitors than Google, but the creation of competitor sites such as Facebook and Twitter set about dramatic changes more swiftly than anyone could have imagined and by June 2013, fewer than 40 million users remained.
Naghavi concedes that while “it definitely fell off a little bit”, Myspace wasn’t actually dead - just stagnant. “People were still using it on a day to day basis as their number one social networking platform, so we really had to consider the classic users in all of this. We wanted to reach out to a whole new world and say ‘Myspace is back and the place for creatives’, but we also had to think about the transition for existing users and making it as seamless for them as possible.” Naghavi says that she and the rest of the team “never thought of it as scary or daunting, because it just had so many possibilities.”
For all its supposed solidarity, the vapid appetite that social media creates, chews up and spits out as soon as the initial consumption is over is something that sees many sites constantly scrambling to retain relevancy. Interestingly, in 2009, Twitter reported a drop off rate of 60% within the first month of users joining. The frequent updates to layouts and ever expanding ways in which one can show their approval of something, is a thing Myspace plans to circumvent in their stream-lined, user-friendly update.
“Myspace was the original, it was massive. I don’t think there was anyone that wasn’t on it,” Naghavi says. “It played a huge role in encouraging self-expression and putting yourself out there, particularly for those on the creative side.”
“I think it’s almost equal parts music and social and that was a trend that set very early on, purely by accident, but that was something that we all agreed on as a unique feature when redesign discussions started.”
The new, fresh faced version now includes radio, animated GIFs, a music player that plays seamlessly throughout screen changes, worldwide statistics on where your music of choice is most popular, and significantly a holistic tool that combines photos, video and music all under one banner of choice.
“We took the idea of a mixtape and built it into something that is like this sensory memory bank. So much of our memories are tied to music or are triggered by photos, and it just made sense to make something that puts them all together. We always understood that Myspace could make a comeback and would do really well because there’s never really been anything that’s taken its place. It has always had the right components; it was just about putting them all together in a beautiful, new and exciting way. There are definitely some people that are missing Tom, but I think JT might be an even better replacement,” laughs Naghavi.
Alex Naghavi will be speaking at this year’s Sex, Drugs & Helvetica conference on Friday 16 August at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre.