I can’t for the life of me remember where I read that little blurb, but it’s a pretty good evaluation of the still young social networking site Virb°.

The folks behind the site call themselves Virb Inc. and are the same gang that created PureVolume back in 2003. (By the way, if you’re into the indie music scene and you haven’t ever heard of PureVolume then you need to go there now. I mean right away, forget the rest of this article for now, it’ll be here when you come back I promise.)

At first glance, Virb looks like just another MySpace clone, but upon closer inspection there’s plenty that sets it apart.

Virb breaks down its profiles into three categories at the moment. They are: personal, music, and organization. This comes in handy because, for example, I can choose to allow friend requests from personal pages, but block requests from bands. This brings back memories of spam-filled MySpace inboxes full of requests from guys who make techno in their basement. I can also choose to display my personal friends, band friends, and organization friends independently on my profile.

Virb has a couple other useful little perks like the ability to upload video with no quality restrictions and the option to link you profile to the rss/atom feed of your blog and have the posts automatically copied onto you Virb profile.

What Virb really does an excellent job with is customization. Virb provides you with several options to tweak the looks of your profile page. For the everyday user, there are two basic editors. One allows you to change some basic formatting options, simple things like fonts and colors. The other allows you to arrange the position of “modules” on your page. More on Virb modules in a moment.

editsample.jpg<- Basic Syle Editor

For those who are a little more web savvy and want a higher level of customization Virb also allows you to directly edit the CSS and XHTML for your profile page. And the addition of Virb modules makes the editing even easier. Virb breaks down every aspect of your page into modules. They have several basic modules already set up for you, one for displaying comments, pictures, meta, etc. Now say I wanted to add a little RSS feed widget to my profile page. I could go to the advanced editor and code it in there, but I could also make a custom module and place the code there. That way, when I go to the editor I have the option of simply referencing that module rather than typing out the full code. This keeps the code incredibly organized and makes things easy to re-arrange.

Amidst all this customization, Virb threw in another little goodie that I just love. Remember all those MySpace profiles that burned your eyes with their bright colors, unreadable font, and general feeling that someone had up and vomited random HTML all over the place? (And by one I mean one in five…) Well guess what. Now you don’t have to look at it! At the top of every profile page Virb gives you a “remove customization” option that allows you to view the page with the default layout and settings and avoid any annoying colors you may encounter.

sample-profile.jpg <-Custom  Removed-> samplenoncustom.jpg

Overall, Virb seems to have taken something old, kept what worked, fixed a few things that didn’t and added their own unique feel. It might never be the leading social networking site, but it’s a great place to advertise a startup band, get a new organization noticed, or just have an extra place to show your blog and get a little more traffic. I wouldn’t be surprise to see some real growth there in the near future.

One Response to “"All the Charm of MySpace without all the Suck."”

  1. The screen shot of customizing with the basic style editor looks a lot like the social network creator site Ning’s customizer screen.

    I think that kind of setup is a glimpse of what the future of web design will be – easily customizable and movable dynamic widgets to allow for a completely customizable page yet still requiring no coding.

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