I’ve been using online groups since the late 90s, and have been online (via dial-up BBSs) since the mid 80s. I’m no stranger to finding my way around new websites and systems, but MySpace seems to be in a separate category. I’ve come to expect a certain set of functions, or at least a certain consistency to the group-based offerings. I’ve been quite frustrated with MySpace in several respects, but in here I’ll just outline the difficulties I have encountered with their groups, and how I would change that particular part of MySpace.
I would add more categories, or make subcategories in the Groups area. The Cities and Neighborhoods subcategory is a great example of this. Logical subgroups would be by country then state. Yes, you can search by zipcode, but if you’re in Humboldt you’re not going to find the West Coast group, which is listed as being from Santa Monica.
The search function seems to take some time to be updated. I started a new group, and it was well over a week before it was included in the index. Even craigslist manages to update their index every 15 minutes, it shouldn’t take a week for a listing to appear.
Follow Jakob Nielsen’s advice and put a search box when you’re browsing the category pages, not just a link to a search. In his UseIt Article he states that putting a textbox search function on his homepage, rather than just a link, increased search usage by 91%.
Use correct breadcrumb navigation. I clicked on Automotive groups, and the navigation states MySpace Groups > Most Popular Groups. No indication that I’m in the automotive groups.
Inconsistent use of search. On the groups main page, the search box is the simple search. If you click the search link on a sub-page, you’re taken to an advanced search.
Even advanced search is not very advanced. Say you want to find a group dedicated to VWs automobiles, so you search on VW. Here are the first ten results, the most popular groups with VW somewhere.
– VW Owners and Lovers
– vwvortex.com (vw/audi enthusiasts)
– The Transformers (the 1980s toy)
– VW – Volkswagen Enthusiasts Unite
– Stuck in Frederick Maryland
– 951/909 DirtSports
– Lovers of Orlando Bloom
– German Autos
– GTI Owners for Life
– Nanaimo BC
Search on Volkswagen, and also only six of the top ten groups are related to VWs (others include a description as a voice that won’t be co-opted by Volkswagen and a group on the psychedelic era).
At least all of the sponsored links are about cars. Maybe MySpace should use their ad-targeting algorithms for search and ditch their own search?