In July of 2011, YouTube provided “Cosmic Panda” for web users to try out new features. Well, late last week, YouTube launched its new interface for everyone and included many of the features that were available in test mode over the last few months. Here are four things that I really like:
- Channels – The whole concept of a “channel” has really moved to the forefront with this new design. This is clearly evident with the new large “Add Channels” button in the top left corner. I believe that this focus on channels has a long-term benefit for YouTube and users. For example, content creators are now rewarded by gaining “subscribers” instead of just “views.” So, the content creators are focused more on long-term engagement with the viewers instead of a single viral video. On the other hand, users benefit as channels have a commitment to generating quality content…consistently.
- Filtering – Although the search field is still at the top, visitors now have more filtering functionality in the left sidebar. You can add your top channels in the sidebar and also filter videos by popularity, trends, etc. The new setup promotes filtering in lieu of searching for content.
- Social Media Integration– By connecting through popular social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter, you can see relevant videos appear in your main timeline. I haven’t seen this work too well yet, but I can see the possibilities. At some point, it would be valuable to go to YouTube whenever you want to see video…whether that is from friends, colleagues on Twitter, or through subscriptions.
- Design – I think the new design is much cleaner. The light gray background adds more sophistication to the site. The darker gray sidebar has a much more modern “feel” as well. Also, the main video stream on the homepage has larger thumbnails, which is much easier on the eye.
At this point, the latest changes do add a much more contemporary “feel” and the site definitely took a few steps forward. As more premium content channels make their way onto the site, we’ll see how everything comes together. In the long run, this approach promotes quality content and rewards those who can engage an audience on a consistent basis.
P.S. Check out the video below, which demonstrates some of the new features.