Good Usability is Bad for Profits


TechDirt points to a post noting that MySpace has intentionally avoided improvements at usability under the rationale that poor usability often results in more clicks and hence more page views, which in turn generates more advertising revenue.

That’s right. I hold that at least 2/3rds of page views would disappear. Here’s what I mean. This would be the flow in a, say, Google-engineered network experience:

1. Click over to “GoogSpace”, or whatever we want to call it. (+1 page view)
2. Click through to read and reply to all mail (0)
3. Visit a few friends’ pages (+3)
4. Edit my profile page (+1)

That’s about 5 registered page views. The rest of the interaction comes from XML/HTTP requests.

Here’s the same sequence on MySpace:

1. Click over to MySpace. (+1 page view)
2. Log in, because MySpace doesn’t remember logins very well. (+2)
3. Click through to read and reply to all mail… about three per mail. (+21)
4. Visit a few friends’ pages. (+3)
5. Reload a few pages because of server errors. (+3)
5. Edit my profile page. (+10)

It essentially boils down to the AJAX issue -- AJAX results in less page views and for CPM-friendly publishers, this can spell less advertising revenue (at least in the short run).


Didn't I read somewere that

Didn't I read somewere that the founder "doesn't believe" in usability testing?

One thing is for sure, the site is an aberation.

(Although, technical things aside, the site is very usable in that it gives the user what they want)

That may be a "good" model

That may be a "good" model if page views (of ads) is what you're after.

On the other hand, poor usability on an e-commerce site may bring quite another result.

anyone remember AOL?

Anyone remember when those scripts were created to auto-navigate Compuserve? And then they were blocked? And then they were adopted ? Disruptive, but it shows up when the community has had enough. Call it evolution.

steep learning curve

Browsing through most of myspace is best done with welders goggles on, I'm sure some of it causes temporary retina damage. Since most of the pages are created by people with no concept of usability it's like the web circa 1996 with spinning flaming logos and all.

There are some editing tools but nothing formal. If you spend any time working with the tools you'll figure out how they work, you'll also see they are really good at inserting links automatically. If you're willing to use and editor and spend a few hours disecting and tinkering you'll get a decent enough handle on it to work with it yourself. Enterprising designers could offer a MySpace package for a few hundred bucks and do pretty well.

I'm doing a MySpace series on my blog this week and came across some interesting stuff. I found one that looked pretty good, possibly NSFW, it's an auto customization shop with some "booth babes". If that kind of thing sends you into a tizzy about womens rights, for the love of all that is holy, just don't click the link ok, you've been warned.

Okay. What is "NSFW"? I've

Okay. What is "NSFW"? I've seen it twice now; what am I missing?


NSFW = Not Safe For Work

Ah! Okay; thanks.

Ah! Okay; thanks.

I don't buy it

Am I the only one who doesn't buy into that whole "bad design is better" crap?

>>Am I the only one

Nope. I've never seen a site lose revenue or traffic after a redesign that made the site more user friendly. Not once. I have seen cluttered sites that were deemed 'successful' lose revenue and traffic.

Some people confuse 'plain' with 'ugly' and I think that's where the myth about 'ugly sites sell' arose. That and some strategic disinformation... ;)

More on this topic

Does Ajax mean less revenue for Google?

Thought it was worth noting.

not surprising...

Heh. You usually do think that site is worth noting.

I added nofollows to those links and banned your account.

There is no problem with adding a relevant link, but if your posts NEVER have useful information other than CHECK MY SITE OUT then you offer nothing but noise.

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