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MySpace Pt.3 – layout generators

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Wednesday May 10, 2006 )

According to Alexa, MySpace is currently the 6th most popular site in the world – the five before it are Yahoo!, Google, MSN, and Yahoo! Japan. That’s pretty distinguished company to be keeping.

Although I’ve only published a couple of articles on MySpace so far, it’s been interesting to see the substantial number of search engine referred visits to this blog for MySpace related terms. They range from MySpace users looking for page resources and layout generators, to uni students doing research into the MySpace phenomena, to marketers trying to figure out how to utilize MySpace to promote their products – and also how to customize their own pages.

I’ve also seen a few really odd search terms repeatedly in my logs and I look forward to unravelling the mystery of what those folks are actually looking for – must be some sort of secret MySpace jargon :)

My adventures into MySpace to date have been reasonably quiet in terms of activity on my own MySpace page, but that’s ok – I’m more interested in the dynamics of the service at this stage and understanding social networking at this level a little better.

Regardless of the “quality” of many MySpace pages, I feel it’s important to look way past the often gawdy profiles to the complex human emotions and interactions behind them, especially given that these sorts of services are playing a major role in the evolution of the Internet, and therefore will impact heavily on overall web marketing strategy in the future.

Don’t just think of MySpace as a place for young people. There’s plenty of older people out there too. Bear in mind also that the 20-something MySpace users of today are the 30-something, 40-something etc. consumers of tomorrow; and they’ll move into those age brackets as social networking savvy people. Sure, they may grow out of MySpace, but they’ll perhaps grow into a different type of online social network. It’s important to understand how these services work.

It’s been a fascinating journey so far, even though I’ve suffered from bleeding eyes and petit mal seizures on a couple of occasions along the way :).

Something that interested me initially was *how* MySpacers were creating such… elaborate shall we say, page designs; especially given that most would have had no prior HTML/CSS training and the customization tools provided on MySpace are somewhat lacking.

A substantial number of cottage industries external to MySpace have sprung up catering exclusively to MySpace users, allowing them to “pimp” their pages. Most of these resources provide tools for free, with revenue being gained from on-site advertising. Their traffic is sourced not only through search engines, but also via word-of-mouth among MySpace users and link backs on the items they provide which are implemented on MySpace profiles.

Some of the tools are quite good and can save you oodles of time in trying to figure out how to change all the various styles of your profile after you’ve run through the initial setup of your page.

If you have a “vanilla” MySpace page (which I’m told by long-time MySpacers is a sure sign of a “newbie”), you may like to give the free MySpace layout generator I’ve just implemented on Taming the a whirl. I didn’t set this up just because I’m a nice guy, but I’m really curious as to how popular these tools are and to observe how users interact with the accompanying advertising for non-MySpace related services.

Basically what the layout generator does is allow you to specify how you’d like certain elements of your to appear, such as background, main text, heading text, links, tables and borders. You can then preview the layout and generate the CSS code. This code is then placed directly above the text in the “About me” section of your MySpace profile.

I’ve used this generator on my own MySpace profile and while I don’t think I’ll be winning any design awards for my page, it at least helped me to shed my newbieness somewhat :). I hope you find the layout generator useful.

Stay tuned for more MySpace adventures :)

Learn more:

MySpace profile layout generator

Other MySpace articles on the TTB blog

Web 2.0, mashups and social networking – what’s it all about?


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