Change is the only thing consistent about social (and interactive) media these days. Facebook changes its design and layout so frequently that by now, you probably know exactly which of your friends will swear off Facebook forever – this time for good! – if the News Feed is altered just one more time. Google is even more fickle, as it seems to launch a new social media experiment every six months (does anybody remember Wave?). The Ol’ Faithful of the social media world has long been YouTube, a site that has remained relatively the same since 2005.
The New YouTube Design
The team behind the world’s third most visited website announced a major facelift aimed at keeping users on YouTube even longer than before. When I first visited the redesigned homepage, I was immediately drawn to the new navigation toolbar on the left hand side. It makes finding new videos and sharing them on other social media outlets easier than ever. The main page even features a feed similar to Facebook or Google+ where I can see the latest activity of my favorite Channels (I can even link my Google+ or Facebook profile from the left column and see what my friends are sharing!). And here lies perhaps the most significant change of the YouTube redesign.
Channel-Centric YouTube Redesign
YouTube knows its popularity is on the heels of one-off videos. When your co-worker tells you about a video of Cookie the baby penguin, YouTube relies on you heading back to your desk and visiting their site specifically for that video. But YouTube is willing to bet big that the future lies in its users subscribing to Channels – which includes everything from ESPN to SnookTv (don’t do it).
In the past, whether or not I was subscribed to a Channel was not an issue. Since the center of the new page is dedicated to Subscriptions, however, my options were to either add Channels or suffer the horrors of a blank home page. I chose to add a few Channels of interest to appear on the page and then spent the next five minutes watching Rowan Atkinson drive in circles at the suggestion of the Top Gear Channel. Well played, YouTube.
YouTube Opting for Higher Relevance
By promoting Channels as the primary theme of the redesign, YouTube hopes to drive more relevant content to users. If they can increase the appeal of peripheral content, YouTube knows the likelihood of a visitor remaining on the site skyrockets. This boosts viewings, time on the site and, ultimately, revenue. I’m interested in seeing how users react to the new page, but perhaps more curious to see if YouTube is successful in squeezing even more time from visitors by specifically driving their experience around the Channel platform.
New YouTube Design…Yay or Nay?
Let’s see how this new YouTube design works! But before you jump off to watch the video of Cookie, I’d like to hear your thoughts on the new YouTube design in the comments section below!