YouTube Simplifies UI

Changes to YouTube's user interface are intended to make the site easier to use and to encourage visitors to watch more videos.

SAN BRUNO, Calif.-By the end of business on March 31, video-sharing site YouTube will have made some obvious-and not-so-obvious-changes to the user interface of its main page.
"This is all about cleaning up what's there and making sure that the content shines in its own place," YouTube Senior Product Manager Shiva Rajaraman told a group of journalists at the company's headquarters here.
"Overall, the redesign is cleaner, simpler and easier to use. Information about a video is now grouped together in one place, and there's a consistent way to get more detail when you need it. This way, unless something's truly useful to you, it doesn't clutter up your page," Rajaraman said.
One of the most apparent changes, for example, is the removal of the stars (one through five) that viewers used to rate videos. In their place are simple thumbs-up and thumbs-down buttons, the thumbs-up one being labeled "Like." Included alongside those is a button for sharing the video by e-mail, via Facebook or other means. There's also a new "Videos I Liked" list.
"We found that more than 90 percent of the videos posted were ranked five stars by viewers," Rajaraman said, "and most of the rest were ranked one star. Very few people rate videos in the middle ranges, so the [star] rankings really didn't mean that much."
YouTube, which is the second-most-searched site on the Internet-its parent, Google, being No. 1-has a central goal of increasing the average session time of 15 minutes that a person spends on the site each day.
Studies have shown that television viewing has increased to about 5 hours per day for an adult, and YouTube wants part of that action.
One way to do this is to continually tease the viewer into another video session. Thus, YouTube has dedicated the entire right-hand side of the page to other videos the user may want to watch.
"We're now smarter about suggesting the next videos to watch, based on how you found the video you're watching in the first place," Rajaraman said. "You've already told us what kind of video you like when you first come into a session, so we don't have to ask you."
In the new design, the channel name and subscribe button are now both on top of the video, along with preview windows of similar videos. "We found that people prefer having a quick peek at more videos that uploaders have created before deciding whether to subscribe to their channels," Rajaraman said.
There's also a new playlist interface, with the next video in the list appearing consistently in the top right. You can expand that list with a click or skip ahead, using a new "next" button in the player controls. Saving to playlists is now easier, and Favorites is now the default option.
YouTube, which claims that it ingests about 20 hours of video every second, reported that its overall playbacks are up 6 percent over 2009 at this time and that engagement (comments and ratings interactivity) is up 7 percent, according to its latest research.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...