August 06, 2012
YouTube, the most popular video streaming site on the internet, recently revealed a few minor updates to its web GUI design, intended to improve navigation and the user experience. On the YouTube Creators Blog, the company announced that these changes are based on user feedback and give visitors more control over what they see on their personalized YouTube homepages, as well as more information about the videos.
The most important change to come out of these updates is enlarged, high-quality video thumbnails that give users a better view of video recommendations and previews. These are accompanied by improved uploader information, which now includes comments made by the video's creator and other activity related to it.
In addition to these changes, YouTube also enhanced the web UI design on user pages, providing a new option - Highlight view. With Highlight view as the new default, user pages won't get overly crowded by prolific uploaders, but instead will provide a selection of new videos from everyone the user subscribes to.
Users can also more easily hide updates from their subscriptions, unsubscribe entirely or sort through only a select user's uploads with improved homepage options. Finally, YouTube has added a much-needed "Watched" feature that shows which videos have been previously viewed and which haven't.
With improved web design usability and features intended to provide users with a better overall experience on the site, YouTube has made an effort to enhance the site without making any changes to the actual look and feel. The popular site recently released an overhaul to the overall site design, and another major change this soon would be sure to upset users. However, by tweaking usability, developers have shown foresight into keeping overall user satisfaction high.
Any website can benefit from the lessons that YouTube provides in these changes. With a focus on navigation, usability and overall quality enhancement, the site has improved the user experience without truly changing it. Many companies often take GUI design updates too far by completely overhauling a site when all it needs is some minor tweaking. With higher-quality thumbnails and new user options that don't remake the look of the site, YouTube has maintained a popular design while still catering to user demand.