YouTube unveiled a new layout yesterday. Like the reaction to the new studio set of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart introduced back in 2005, opinions on the design are mixed. But that’s really no surprise.
Over 160 million people in the United States alone visit YouTube on a monthly basis. It can be a frustrating experience when something which that many individuals are readily familiar with undergoes drastic change. Like I described during my analysis of the new design when it was called codename Cosmic Panda, YouTube is like the remote control for the internet. And whenever the video sharing site changes its format, it’s akin to going over to your friend’s house and trying to operate their television when you both have different cable service providers. Aggravating, amiright?
But before we get into the if and how YouTube’s new layout has aggravated YouTubers, let’s briefly go over the changes. Here are some explanations straight from the source:
A New Homepage
To help you get more into YouTube, we’re making it easier to find and follow great Channels when you arrive. On the left side of the homepage you can create your own, personal, customizable YouTube Channel line-up. Sign-in, or create a YouTube account. Then you can browse recommended Channels; customize your homepage’s feed; even link your YouTube account to Google+ and Facebook to see what your friends are sharing. The new homepage feed we launched earlier this year is now front and center on the homepage. You can switch between feeds by clicking on different Channels on the left.
Simpler, Customizable Channels
Given the homepage’s new focus on helping you find and organize your favorite Channels, we would be remiss if we didn’t update the look and feel of the Channels themselves. Today we’re launching an improved Channel design focused on what matters most: helping users find great videos. As different uploaders have different goals, we’ve created new Channel templates to meet your needs whether you produce one video a week or have thousands of videos for a fan to browse.
A New Overall Design
To bring the new homepage and Channels designs together we’ve also applied a fresh coat of digital paint across the whole site. In July, we unveiled an experimental design called Cosmic Panda. We’ve used your feedback to improve our overall design, and today, we’re presenting a cleaner and simpler YouTube, with a consistent gray background, bigger video thumbnails and a more streamlined watch page.
Top 25 Most Subscribed All-Time YouTuber Phil DeFranco also posted a great video going over the sleek style and most of the site’s new bells and whistles. Take a look:
So, now that we’re familiar with the new YouTube, let’s look at the overall reaction from the YouTubers most affected by the change. The responses can be broken down into three general categories:
YouTube’s new Subscription Manager makes it extremely easy to navigate through all of your channel subscriptions and unsubscribe to any you no longer watch. This means a ton of YouTubers are bleeding subscribers. There are two general reactions to this new phenomenon.
One, it kinda sucks. The status and popularity of a YouTube channel isn’t really defined by its number of aggregate views (though a high number there certainly helps), but by the number of its subscribers. It takes a lot to get an individual to click on that subscribe button (Editor’s Plug: By the way, have you subscribed to our Tubefilter channel?), and it can be extremely disheartening when you see them click it again to unsubscribe, especially when it’s en masse.
Two, it’s kinda good. Online video consumers now have a much better idea of all the YouTube they’re signed up to consume. They can now more effectively prune or add to their list of subscriptions. A simple way to unsubscribe may actually be a good thing because it (ideally) means those subscription numbers will not be drastically inflated and will have more meaning.
Like The Will of DC tweeted, “This is awesome because it puts power back in the hands of the community/subscribers. If someone doesn’t watch/like my stuff there should be an easy way to unsubscribe. Glad to know my true audience and build on top of that instead of a fake symbolic number.”
Suggested and Featured Channels Hit it Big
Of course, some YouTube channels will still be burdened or benefited (depending on your outlook) by insanely high subscription numbers. Those channels are the Suggested Channels YouTube puts on the left-hand side of the new homepage, below your subscriptions. They will show up for every single person that visits YouTube.com. And on a site that gets hundreds of millions of visitors every month, that means those channels will receive a helluva lot more opportunities to get new subs.
As Top 50 YouTube Most Subscribed All-Time channel The Fine Bros tweeted, “It’s subscriber payday if you happen to be lucky enough to be a “featured” channel that YouTube now recommends on every homepage.”
It Looks Nice
Regardless of the Subscriber Pruning and payoff for Suggested/Featured Channels, the new YouTube looks great. It feels way more high-quality than the site’s old iteration, which is more or less the point.
If you’re familiar with the design changes of other online video sharing and distribution sites, you know that one tactic used to increase the production quality of the videos users upload is to create a more professional viewing environment. The idea is if your site looks like it’d be a great place to watch public access television, then that’s the quality level of the programming people will upload and expect.
YouTube wants to steal advertising dollars away from traditional media. It’s already working on creating more professionally-produced programming, on which it can sell those advertisers. Now it has a better destination site where it will be able to showcase that content.
Like Michael Buckly tweets, “The New YouTube is totally sexy!!!!”