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Major YouTube Redesign Zooms in on Channels, Video Discovery, Social Sharing

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The YouTube Team has introduced a new homepage – which we saw a sneak preview of a couple weeks ago – unveiled a new Channel design, and gave the video-sharing site a fresh coat of digital paint. 

With more than 3 billion videos viewed each day on YouTube, why bother? Well, with nearly eight years of new content uploaded every day and last month’s announcement that a hundred new channels are coming soon from well-known personalities and content producers, YouTube wanted to make it easier for users to find and keep tabs of what they want to watch.

Of course, YouTube created a short video that provides a tour of the new YouTube homepage and explains how users can create their own customizable YouTube channel.

Here are more details on the big changes that you’ll see when you visit YouTube today:

  • New homepage: The YouTube homepage makes it easier to find and follow a user’s favorite Channels. On the left side of the homepage, users with a YouTube account can create their own, personal, customizable YouTube Channel line-up. They can browse recommended Channels; customize their homepage’s feed; and link their YouTube account to Facebook or Google+ to see what their friends are sharing. The new homepage feed YouTube launched earlier this year is now front and center on the homepage. YouTubers can switch between feeds by clicking on different Channels on the left.
  • Customizable Channels: In addition to the homepage’s new focus on helping YouTubers find and organize their favorite Channels, YouTube has also updated the look and feel of the Channels themselves. YouTube has launched a new Channel design that is focused on helping users find videos. Since different uploaders have different marketing goals, YouTube has created new Channel templates to meet their needs whether a YouTuber produces one video a week or has thousands of videos for fans to browse. TheCraftyGemini has uploaded a video talking about the new features, and Zack King (FinalCutKing) has uploaded a video providing tips how he’s taking advantage of the new design.

  • New overall design: To bring the new homepage and Channels designs together, YouTube has also applied a fresh coat of digital paint across the whole site. In July, YouTube unveiled an experimental design called Cosmic Panda. They’ve used user feedback to improve their overall design, and have now rolled out a cleaner and simpler site, with a consistent gray background, bigger video thumbnails, and a more streamlined watch page.

Now, YouTube has given its video pages a makeover before. Back in early 2010, YouTube rolled out what it then called “one of the biggest redesigns in YouTube history.”

But to make sure that most of its users, partners, and advertisers embraced this week’s big redesign, YouTube provided an early preview, code named Cosmic Panda, on July 7, 2011.

Now, normally you can count on someone, somewhere to sound like Commander Leonard “Bones” McCoy, M.D. in Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), who said, “And they probably redesigned the whole sickbay, too! I know engineers, they LOVE to change things.” And there were a couple of comments along that line back in July.

But by providing a preview of its new design, the reaction to Cosmic Panda was generally positive.

For example, Jeremy Scott of ReelSEO said,” I’ve tried it out, and I must say… it seems pretty cool to me at first glance. The redesign isn’t so drastic as to be jarring. A lot of things are still in the same places. But there’s definitely been a face-lift, and a healthy dose of the color gray has been liberally added in many shades.”

He added, “This thing is outstanding in my opinion. Simplified and slick. The red chat-balloon icon on the bottom right lets you toggle the video’s annotations on and off, and when captions are present, you’ll have another little toggle icon for turning those on and off as well. And as you can see, you can still change the video resolution or jump up to full-screen view with the click of a mouse.”

So, I think that the redesign unveiled yesterday will take some time for everyone to get used to, but the overall reaction will probably be positive. YouTube took its time, used Cosmic Panda to get user, partner, and advertiser feedback to figure out what they’d gotten it right and what needed further tweaks, and then incorporated that into yesterday’s redesign.

It’s smart to test changes before making them – especially when YouTube is getting 800 million unique visitors a month, has more than 20,000 partners in 22 countries, and is monetizing more than 3 billion video views per week globally.


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