A few weeks ago we examined the new Myspace design that is currently in Beta stage of testing. Touting it’s design ingenuity and bravery, we decided to speak to the designers at digital studio Josephmark to find out more about the studio, their objectives and how they approached such a huge project.
FD: So when was Josephmark originally set-up and what was the vision/long term objectives for the company?
JM: We’re a design-led digital studio that began eight years ago when two idealistic guys – one designer, one copywriter – shared both a dream and an office that was really a shed. From those humble beginnings we’ve grown to a team of 25, with offices in Brisbane and Los Angeles. We design digital product experiences that shape the way people create, distribute, discover and consume content. We believe design shapes the views, opinions, emotions and lifestyles of people in society. So we partake in this conversation with ethics, passion and environmental respect.
FD: Could you give us a little bit of an insight into the company ethos and studio environment? Do you have any images of your work space that you could send us?
JM: We’re a relatively small team and as cheesy as it sounds, we really think of each other as family. Every voice is heard, every opinion valued and every individual talent nurtured.
FD: Earlier this year Josephmark, along with ad network Specific Media Group, launched the New Myspace in Beta. How did you get the job, was it a pitch process? or a long-standing relationship with Specific Media?
JM: We started working with Specific Media in September 2011. Following this, Myspace sent out a global tender to five agencies, most of which were based in the U.S.
The Specific Media team wanted a design partner to help them reinvent Myspace from the ground up – to help them conceive and deliver a vision of what Myspace could be, now and into the future. We responded with a clear vision of what we would do with Myspace if the site was ours, and we’ve been working with them ever since.
FD: Did you ever use the old Myspace and if so, what did you enjoy about the experience?
JM: Of course. Classic MySpace was a place for artists to connect with each other and their fans, and countless bands found their voice there. MySpace was such an iconic experience for so many of us and it’s a great privilege to be asked to help design its future.
FD: Is there anything from the old Myspace that you translated into the new UI design?
JM: The new Myspace was designed from the ground up, so we started with a clean slate. We were able to take a step back and ask ourselves what’s working and what could be improved. When designing for existing brands, it’s important to acknowledge features that people can connect with nostalgically. If you’ve been on the site recently, you’ll notice the design has retained some of its legacy features: profile song, top eight and animated gifs. Those legacy features are, quite purposefully, the only elements of the ‘old Myspace’ translated to the new Myspace.
FD: Was this the biggest project you’ve taken on? How did it differ from your usual working process?
JM: Myspace is definitely the most highly publicised project we’ve worked on but our process didn’t change. We’re working on something that truly pushes the boundaries of what’s expected, and partnering with people we like and respect.
FD: A number of reviews have suggested the site design may have been strongly influenced by sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr. How much would you say this is true?
JM: Some people may see similarities because they’re all highly-visual, image-heavy sites. The new Myspace is a feature-rich place, so it was important the design enabled a clean user experience – utilising a global navigation bar, which allows the content of the site to take prime position. We wanted to maximise the screen real estate and create an immersive experience for the user, so they feel part of the space. On past projects, we’ve implemented horizontal scrolling and full-screen imagery – we have a history executing horizontal scrolling.
FD: When starting out on the visual design of the interface, what were your main objectives from the final outcome? Do you feel that you’ve achieved these?
JM: The redesigned Myspace site is currently in open beta and the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive; we think of it as a work in progress as it’s constantly evolving with new features being implemented all the time.
When designing or redesigning an aspect of any site, whether it’s an established brand or a new start-up, companies are all looking for the same thing – new value. At Josephmark, we apply a start-up, entrepreneurial approach to every project. We approach all our work by quickly prototyping and experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t.
The redesign is about ensuring Myspace’s new value respects its rich history – at its peak Myspace was the ultimate platform for artists; with over 14 million artists on the site. It’s a brand that people know. Whether they love it or not, they want to come back and see what’s different.
FD: How did you incorporate Myspace’s focus on music into the design?
JM: The site bridges the gap between being a music product and a social network. We’re looking at the site and the target market in three segments or themes: creatives, curators and consumers. Rather than looking at demographics, we are focusing on the entire creative community and using this as a platform for self-expression. We’re starting with music because Myspace has the largest music catalogue in the world. So it was a really logical place to begin.
FD: Some would say that one of the reasons Myspace failed to succeed was that its original founders wanted to make it more ‘Facebook-like’ and in doing so they ignored what its early users wanted. Was this a strong consideration towards the new design, that the user should be at the centre of the Myspace experience?
JM: At Josephmark, we don’t compare sites or brands to others on the market. And we don’t compare ourselves to competitors either. We always start with questions: are we delivering the best user experience possible? Are we living up to the vision we set out to achieve? If not, how do we get better? The new Myspace is built with a technical foundation that supports continued iteration, to provide users with the best possible experience.
We’re really excited about what we’re working on with the Myspace guys. And there’s a lot more to come – stay tuned. We hope you like it.
Many thanks to Josephmark for answering our questions! If you want to take a look at the new Myspace yourself you can sign up to receive an account here. What do you think of the new look Myspace? If you have any questions for Josephmark let us know below and we’ll forward them on.