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MySpace gets ready for makeover
By Jim Reed
Newsbeat technology reporter

MySpace screen grab
MySpace is facing more competition from rivals like Facebook

MySpace is preparing a major redesign next week as it tries to attract more casual users and increase the amount of time its members spend online.

Most of the changes will go live on 18 June and cover the site's home page, navigation, editing, search and video functions.

Managing director of MySpace UK, Antony Lukom, said designers have been working on the project for more than a year.

"We wanted to make it easier and more intuitive to use," he said.

"I remember when early mobile phones came out and gradually became simpler and easier to use.

"Social networks are part of our lives now and we're going through the same process. Lots of users don't know how to cut and paste code so we want to make that easier."

Fierce competition

The move comes as MySpace is facing increased competition in the UK from direct rivals Facebook and Bebo as well as up-and-coming sites like Twitter.

4.7 million users visited MySpace in April, down more than 30% on last year, according to data from Nielsen Online.

Its rivals experienced a big increase in numbers over that period with Facebook now dominating the market with 10.2 million users.

Facebook is also planning a major redesign of its site over the summer.

Designers there are planning some widespread changes to the way core profile pages are organised, aimed at making the site "simpler, cleaner and more relevant".

MySpace screen grab
It will be easier for users to embed their own video in their pages

Cutting the clutter

The MySpace redesign is the first complete overhaul of the site since it launched in January 2004.

Sections from the home - or "splash" - page down will be stripped of some of its more complicated features. Those 15 navigation links at the top of the screen will be cut to five tabs.

The US home page will be sponsored by one, as-yet unnamed advertiser.

Anthony Lukom has no plans for the same kind of thing in the UK but does expect advertisers to support the changes.

He said: "This is really about the user experience. But if the users are happy, advertisers are normally happy too."

The site recently let users split their online friends into different categories for the first time.

In the future users will be able to let certain groups of friends access different pieces of user generated content like videos and photos.

Search is being simplified with results split into categories like people, music, video and the general web.

We're now the second biggest video site globally after YouTube
Anthony Lukom, Myspace

Members should also find it easier to play around with the look of their profile pages.

A new editor has launched this week with a point-and-click theme library offering colours, borders and images to choose from.

MySpace claims users with more advanced skills will still be able to get their hands dirty with HTML code if they want to.

Multimedia options

The site's MySpaceTV video player is getting a facelift with support for high definition formats, an improved full-screen mode and simpler controls.

Developers reckon it will be easier for members to embed video in their pages and share it with friends.

"We're now the second biggest video site globally after YouTube," said Anthony Lukom. "So we've just got a responsibility to update our player with the latest technology and that's what we are doing."

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