MySpace to shake up its layout

MySpace will begin rolling out a major redesign to the social-networking site this week

MySpace will unveil this week a large-scale redesign that will alter major components of the social-networking site, like its home page, navigation scheme, search engine and video player.

On Wednesday, MySpace users will see the first phase of the redesign, which has been in the works for the past six months, according to the company.

MySpace, the world's most popular social-networking site, expects the changes to boost user engagement by making the site easier to navigate.

MySpace is routinely criticized by users and observers for a layout that many consider visually strident and messy. Its members have many options to alter their profile pages, such as changing their background color, adding hyperactive animations, using fonts of many sizes and colors and plastering them with videos and photo slideshows.

On the other hand, rival Facebook is much more conservative in its design, aiming for a cleaner and more organized look, and gives its members fewer liberties to adorn their profile pages. In fact, layout and design is one of the key areas of differentiation between the two sites, and people often choose one or the other based on this issue.

As part of the redesign plans, MySpace has conducted surveys, performed usability tests and gathered focus groups.

In addition to revamping the home page, MySpace is also changing the profile editor to make it easier for members to design and decorate their profile pages. The profile pages will also undergo renovations.

Meanwhile, the search engine interface is getting a more streamlined layout, an enhanced relevancy algorithm and a tabbed results page including categories like people, MySpace site, Web, music and video.

In addition, the video player is gaining new controls and support for Flash 9 full-screen mode.

Facebook is also busy these days toiling away at a major redesign of its member profile pages, which it has previewed and which it hopes to roll out at some point this month.

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Juan Carlos Perez

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