Social network MySpace unveiled the first stage of its redesign yesterday, starting with a new look for the homepage.

Having been one of the more cluttered sites around, MySpace was certainly due for a revamp. So has it improved?

MySpace new homepage

The main changes are a new simplified navigation bar, and a less cluttered homepage which is now easier on the eye.

Here’s the old homepage for comparison:

Old MySpace homepage

And the new design, below the fold:

MySpace below the fold

The firm behind the redesign, Adaptive Path, has done a good job of removing the clutter from the homepage, and now users can see the content on display much more easily.

The number of links and adverts on the homepage has been reduced, and now it is much easier to navigate from this point.

The navigation bar has also been stripped down, with the number of links reduced from 15 to 7. Other options are now available via drop down menus.

The grey box which used to contain links to videos, featured profiles, horoscopes etc has now been replaced by a tabbed interface which is much more usable:

MySpace is a popular online destination for music fans, and this has been promoted on the homepage through the interface above, and also via this chart of the top ten artists of the day:

MySpace music chart

The redesign is a big improvement so far, but there is still plenty on the site to annoy all but the most dedicated MySpace users.

The profile pages are still as hellish and migraine-inducing as they ever were though.

Open a random profile page and you are assaulted by hideous flashing backgrounds, music that plays without asking you, embedded videos, while the whole thing can take an age to load:

Horrible MySpace profile page

At least MySpace has understood the need for usability improvements, and the parts of the redesign unveiled so far make the much easier to use and look at than before.

There are a lot more improvements which could be made to the user experience on the site, not playing music and video automatically for instance, and toning down some of the awful profile pages.

Of course, MySpace has to avoid annoying its users too much, so it will be interesting to see how far it can alter the rest of the site.

Related research:

Usability and Accessibility Buyer’s Guide 2008

Related stories:

MySpace lines up music labels to compete with iTunes

Life without MySpacec