YouTube's Redesigned Video Pages

Posted by: Helen Walters on March 31, 2010

Today, YouTube rolls out the new design of its video pages. The redesign is the result of eight months work involving designers, researchers, engineers—and YouTube’s own audience, some of whom were actively canvassed for thoughts and feedback, some of whom have acted as unwitting testers (as is parent company Google’s MO, fairly-baked design ideas were rolled out to a small segment of the live audience to gauge response before making changes for the global audience.)

It’s about time. As the web has grown denser and increasingly complex, with more users, more videos, more channels and more modes of watching video online, the viewing and user experience at YouTube had become somewhat overwhelming, and not in a good way. Screens were overloaded with confusing icons, related items, buttons, stars, stats… Personally speaking, watching video on YouTube had become a matter of watching content almost despite the design of the page. I’d learned to tune out the visual noise in order to watch a particular film.

Latest figures from ComScore state that over 12.5 billion videos were watched in January of this year, so the site is clearly not suffering from a lack of attention. But here’s an interesting stat: according to YouTube, most users stay on the site for an average of 15 minutes a day. That’s enough time to watch three or four videos. Again, speaking for myself, I’ve found myself clicking off fairly quickly after watching the video I’d gone there to view. Even when I had time on my hands to indulge a curiosity to click around, the experience wasn’t particularly enjoyable or intuitive, so off I’d go to browse elsewhere. And this, YouTube product manager Shiva Rajaraman told me, is an issue they wanted to address actively with this redesign.

One of the more controversial aspects of the redesign will doubtless be the ditching of the stars rating system and an implementation instead of “like” and “dislike” icons. Among testers, this has been “one of those polarizing topics,” says Rajaraman. “Part of it is that stars around a video shine in people’s minds when they think about YouTube,” he explained in a phone conversation. “But we learned from usability studies and data on the site that most people rate videos with five stars, and they only rate when they like something.” That’s led to a distorted evaluation system. The new binary thumbs up/thumbs down system is intended to fit in better with social network terminology (which has of course run into its own issues—the problem of “liking” very sad, upsetting or disturbing content, for instance). YouTube will also tag videos with badges for “most liked” or “most discussed”.

Already, stats show that the redesign has had an impact on page views. The rethought right rail, which includes a blended list of recommendations of more videos based on a number of different filters has seen an uptick in both traffic and engagement. “We believe that solely from changes on the right side, we’ll increase views by 6% when we launch,” says Rajaraman. The redesigned comments/viewer engagement section below a video, meanwhile, has seen comments and ratings increase 7%.

These are not insignificant numbers. More traffic and longer time spent on the site, of course, means more ads served means more ads seen means more revenue. And that’s the most powerful argument for the value of design of all.

youtube.jpgThe new YouTube page. Terribly difficult to see, I know, but note the “like”/”thumbs down” icons below the video. An animated user interface also makes for a more seamless user experience of finding out more detail about a particular video.

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Reader Comments

TubeParade

March 31, 2010 01:42 PM

Really watch all videos and search for the next ones to put in a playlist
simultaneous.
Or just play related movies at random.
It's all possible in the TubeParade.com

Jmannunez

March 31, 2010 09:51 PM

I HATE THIS NEW LOOK!!!! there are no rating stars! and i just all around hate it

My 2 copper Lincolns

April 1, 2010 02:09 AM

I LOATHE the new design. If I visit YouTube to watch several videos, I watch several videos. If I visit to watch just one video, I watch just one video. The new design will not change any of that. I don't have a YouTube account, so I don't have a playlist to surf through, but I am perfectly capable of navigating through the old website to find my favorite videos. The old design was simple, functional and effective. The new one is just overkill. I hope that this is an April Fool's joke, or at the very least YouTube offers its users the option to browse the site in the old design.

B.A. DuBois

April 1, 2010 10:44 AM

Hate the new design, and for some reason, doesn't work with Apple Safari... going on YouTube via Safari has crashed Safari four times in a row with me... nice job, YouTube!

Mr_Kings

April 1, 2010 11:35 AM

Hate it.

RayWilliam

April 1, 2010 01:48 PM

FAKE AND GAY

Ivan Cerak

April 1, 2010 01:57 PM

Look at twitter, people hate YouTube redesign http://search.twitter.com/search?q=youtube%2Bhate

Here is a demonstration how redesign of YouTube should be done:
http://rainfall-daffinson.com/youtube-redesign/

thiru1952

April 1, 2010 04:16 PM

I hate this new design.It is a shock to you tubers to see this new.Unable to create my own playlist,save it.You can modify the old design by dropping out the unnecessary rating system and some icons.Or you can let us use either CLASSIC DESIGN or NEW DESIGN just as in google classic\igoogle.Please do this.

youtuber

April 1, 2010 04:43 PM

This design is complete sh!t I wasnt the old layout back. No one wants thumbs I want the stars back

YoutubeRater

April 2, 2010 01:30 AM

HATE IT! STARS ARE IMPORTANT! WHY ARE THEY GONE?!?!?!

matt

April 2, 2010 02:40 AM

this layout is horse shit!!!

Rick@make money on youtube

April 2, 2010 03:54 AM

The new design scares the sh*t outta me! It amazes me that the web designers for a billion dollar company could only muster this turd of a product after eight months (!) of supposed testing in beta.

That's a level of incompetence that's without precedent.

http://www.make-money-youtube.info

Google: If you're gonna aim low, aim down all the way. Let's not half-ass things. Let's completely ruin them.

patricia ulery

April 3, 2010 06:59 PM

I try to share a song and cannot for some reason email it anymore. I am sick about this, as it is Easter and I want to send religous music to my friends

Cassidy

April 4, 2010 12:57 AM

I like the new layout. Much cleaner and easier to navigate. Also, as a youtube user... I enjoy the "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" rating aspect better than the "5 star rating." For example, when I get a 3 or 4 star rating on a video... I'm usually left confused, wondering, "So, did you like the video or not?" It's rather ambiguous and meaningless to me. Whereas the thumbs up and thumbs down tells me exactly what I need to know. :)

As with anything, people don't like change. I'm sure they'll catch on fast enough!

Muhammad Adeel

April 4, 2010 07:12 AM

iski maaa ko kutay ka lun behnchod chalti hi nahi

jon blaikie

April 5, 2010 03:17 AM

Disliking something for good reasons has nothing to do with not liking change or 'not catching on' and I suspect that it's the people who do more sophisticated things than just watch a casual video or two who are most disappointed.

If people 'only rate when they like something', what will dividing into 'like and dislike' change? The 1, 2, 3 and 4 star ratings are defined quite clearly and much more informative.

Information now appears only if you move the mouse constantly over the page - annoying, but more importantly if you don't know it's there you won't know to look.

The comments are unintelligible and have pointless selections as 'highlights'. For someone who uploads, the most important aspect has been messed up. Less uploaders means less to watch.

I too choose what and how many to watch, not basing it on the often silly connections. Lots of the 'recommended videos are mine in the first place but there they are, cluttering the page - a complete waste of space.

jawanasome

April 6, 2010 04:58 AM

I don't like it one bit. I like the URL ability to copy the link to share it with other people. I have no idea where to find it if it even exists anymore. Go back to the old ways, or find me another place to share video's.

kitty

April 9, 2010 03:33 PM

I don't like it. The worst one is the comments section. I think the quote about comments number increasing is a total lie. All videos I look at had a significant decrease in comments.

How on earth can you or anybody say that comments section is improved when important functionality like the ability to see comments in context, indentation that shows threads has been taken away. It's no longer possible to understand who replies to whom. Yes, sure they add @poster by default. But, if the particular @poster has one or more comments or if there is more than one response, this becomes so messy. It just totally ridiculous.

Comments highlights are totally meaningless. More often then not highest rated comments are simply those most people agree with which in music videos means "oh, this is the best singer in the world ever" is likely to get highest ratings whereas an intelligent comment that highlights both good and bad qualities of said performer may be voted down.


The like/dislike vs stars doesn't really work well for music videos I look at e.g. classical music: The performers aren't all great or bad. On some level, if I look at for example top classical musicians they are all great, but once you start comparing, you like some less or more. Someone may be great in some aspect e.g. interpretation but less great technically.

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What comes next? The BusinessWeek Innovation and Design team of Michael Arndt and Helen Walters chronicle new tools for creativity and collaboration, innovation case studies in both the corporate and social sectors, and the new ideas that have the power to change the way things have always been done.

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