How to design an effective MySpace page

Who isn’t on MySpace these days?  We’ve all seen horrible layouts where you can’t even read the text and half the time parts of the page are broken or missing.  Before we start, let’s look at and talk about some layouts that don’t really work for me (sorry if this is your layout):

  1. Beautiful women…horrible MySpace page – Piper Perabo = 9 out of 10, Functionality = 0 out of 10.
  2. The default MySpace layout – It has so much personality!
  3. Heavy Flash layouts – Now some of these DO look nice, but lots of folks don’t have Flash and load times can take forever.
  4. Obviously tiled backgrounds – Seeing the same image over and over in the background makes my eyes bleed.

Now review your friend list.  I bet you a dollar that you have several friends that meet each type of bad layout.  So how do we get to an effective MySpace page?

  1. Simplicity – people do actually read the material on your page, follow the KISS mentality (Keep It Simple Stupid) and meet the needs.  You don’t need hundreds of photos on your page either, I’m smart enough to click the Photos link.
  2. Speed – we are not patient.  When surfing the internets, most won’t sit around twiddling their thumbs waiting for your super sweet page to load.  Streamline your images by making thumbnails (actual thumbnails and not just resizing a massive image) and don’t bog down your page.  This means no autoplay videos or music as well.
  3. Content – populate each section of your MySpace page.  When I check my friends’ profiles, I like to get some idea of how things are going, what they are up to, and keep in touch.  Isn’t that the point of social networking?
  4. Clean Design – find a background that you can fade into the background color on your page.  This means you can have a very small image, add a transparency gradient in Photoshop or GIMP and plant it at the top of your page in a very non-obstrusive manner.
  5. Clean Code – be organized.  If you have to edit things later, knowing where to find what you need to edit will save you valuable time.  Find a page you think is well designed and view their source, it will usually point you in the right direction.  Also, if there is something you can’t code, fake it!  Use the background color you have and create an image to plant on your profile.  It makes it look like you did some great CSS work when really you have a small image that’s doing the work for you.

Those are some general guidelines.  I’m not saying my layout is perfect, and I am by NO means the best designer in the world, but I think my page is effective.  I’d be happy to share the layout with anyone, but you’ll probably know that by viewing my source.  I followed the guidelines myself and this was the result – Chris Moody’s MySpace.  Don’t fall into the traps of the gimmick layout sites…find something you like, strip it down, and your MySpace friends might appreciate it.

Note: My profile isn’t the best example any more because I updated to a MySpace 2.0 profile.  It’s still a decent reference point though.