My buddies over at url.com have a post about MySpace that I can't get out of my head. Basically, they were trying to customize their MySpace page. Everybody knows that a huge part of MySpace is customizing the page, so it must be pretty straight forward to do, right? Not so:
... I went to MY myspace page. “OK, so there must be a link ‘customize your page’ or something like that so I can paste in this code…” click, click..
(5 minutes had passed)
“Hmmm, I don’t see a link that says anything about customizing the page.. OH, is it the ‘manage blog’ link?” click, click. “Hmm.. I see a link that says ‘Customize Blog’ where I got that screen shot for my previous post…. maybe it’s here” <- totally confused.
(10 minutes had passed.)
“That was just for customizing the blog not the Myspace page! I don’t need to customize the blog yet! Just putting a background on Myspace! Where do I paste in that code!” <- starting to sound more like users who left confused comments.
Again, when people ask me what I do, I say “I’m a web developer” so I believe I’m above average in terms of being Internet savvy.
... finally, I carefully read one of the sites, and it said “go to the edit profile page, and paste it in there.” I was thinking “but I DID check that page like 100 TIMES, and there was no box that said “paste your code here to customize your background”
I read it again and again and it said “paste it in the ‘about me’ box”
HUH??? You mean, paste the code for the background in the ‘about me’ box?? You mean like this???
Yes, that's right. To customize your MySpace page, you need to put custom CSS in the "about me" field. Not the "CSS" field, the "bout me" field. This is one of the most unintuitive pieces of design I've ever seen. Yet the crazy thing is that millions of users jumped through this hoop to customize their page.
Or perhaps there is something appealing about the bad design- customizing your page almost seems like a hidden trick and that makes it more exciting. I'm reminded of the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger, where customers in the know can order a "double double animal style". There's something appealing about knowing these "hacks", little "secrets" which differentiates the experienced users from the new users. New friends are forced to ask you how to do it and you explain it to them. The act of learning and subsequently passing on these little "hacks" builds excitement and loyalty around the experience.