Despite being the most popular online video service in the world, YouTube’s current website design is not very appealing compared to other streaming video sites. The current site is cluttered with hyperlinks and video thumbnails. The white background is the brightest portion of the page, which distracts users from the video-watching experience. Also, navigation tool bars and menus are more complex than necessary.
The Cosmic Panda experimental redesign fixes many of the current site’s design problems. (See screenshots of the new design embedded below).
The new design is darker than the current version and borrows many visual elements from streaming video sites like Hulu and Vimeo.
Cosmic Panda puts a greater emphasis on the video player, which has a dark gray background — making the video the brightest element on the page. Viewers also have the option of changing the size of the player by clicking one of four buttons located below the progress (loading) bar. Videos that are part of a playlist display a horizontal row of thumbnail images below the player, rather than along the bottom of the page.
Also, fewer thumbnail images of related videos appear in the new design. The thumbnails that do appear on the site are larger and have subtle design elements. such as off-white boxes surrounding the image, thin borders and light gray text. The result is a much cleaner design that allows users to focus their attention on the content, rather than what they plan on watching later.
YouTube launched Cosmic Panda to the public Thursday. Users can enable the new design via the TestTube dashboard — the company’s testing ground for engineers to incubate new feature ideas. Anyone who doesn’t like the site’s new look can toggle off the new design at any time, according to the company.
In a blog post announcing Cosmic Panda, the company stressed the importance of design changes:
With nearly 8 years of video uploaded and 3 billion views logged every day on YouTube, it’s clear you like to watch and share YouTube videos. While you’re watching your favorite or new videos, we at the ‘Tube are obsessing night and day over how those videos are presented. Our team is constantly experimenting, tweaking and playing with new ways to make your experience exactly what you’re looking for.
After using Cosmic Panda for a few hours, I’m convinced it offers a far better experience than the old YouTube design. Honestly, I doubt many people will switch back after testing it out.
Click the images embedded below to enlarge.
VB's research team is studying web-personalization... Chime in here, and we’ll share the results.