YouTube Changes and Thoughts……
Ok, so you regular youtube users might have noticed a radical change to the format in April. As some of you might know I am a youtube user and uploader. I have two channels and regularly post videos and those interested enough in what projects I’ve done have subscribed to check out what’s new. I value all my subscribers (it’s a great feeling to know there are folks out there that are curious as to my latest project or thoughts I might have on a particular topic) and one of the nicest things about Youtube’s format is being able to hear feedback and communicate with them easily. Or should I say it WAS a real bonus…..
I’m not one to complain loudly when change hits. Although I might disagree strongly with the new and prefer the old, I’m usually willing to roll over and take it figuring that any complaints that users might have will fall on deaf ears. No matter how much Youtube might say they listen to the suggestions of their users, I honestly don’t think they do. They’ll simply do what they want while putting on the front of allowing users to voice their opinions. Even if the majority of opinions go against the new proposals, Youtube will typically do what they want anyway, especially if it will save or make them more money. They’re a business afterall and the complaints of users will go unanswered. I’m a defeatist by nature I guess.
Awhile back they introduced the new Beta channel. There were a lot of complaints about that move. I still prefer the old channel design by the way, but eventually learned to accept the new one.
That new channel design wasn’t as big of a change as the one that took place in early April 2010, when a new page layout was introduced. I know change can take some time to get used to (that’s usually the argument people use to calm angry voices) but some of the changes really rubbed me the wrong way.
Firstly, this redesign incorporates ‘related videos’ to the right side of the screen in a one long vertical line. It’s not as clean or organized looking as the scroll bar box they used to be in. Where they used to appear as an optional suggestions you might want to take a look at, now they dominate one of side of the screen.
As an uploader I hope that when someone enjoys a video of mine that they’ll subscribe to my channel. In the past the ‘Subscribe’ button was easy to find in its yellowed-colored glory. Now it has been moved and changed to a smaller dull grey button. Not really a good thing.
There are various other things that make the layout appear awkward and clumsy to me (I prefer having the video description off to the side rather than right underneath the video – the comment section was working fine in that spot and seemed more appropriate there)
The one major gripe I have is with the new rating system. The five star rating seemed to be doing the job quite well of telling users if the video is worth their time to watch. While sifting through search results of videos, when you saw a five star rated video compared to a two star one, which one do you think is worth more of your time to view?
Now the stars are gone and have been replaced with a ‘thumbs up/thumbs down’ option. So in essence you either ‘like’ or ‘dislike’ a video. I’m not going to begin to rant about how your options of opinion on a video just went from five to two, but it certainly seems like a step back.
The stars might not have been perfect, but they did serve a purpose. I’m still somewhat aggravated that I lost all those star ratings my videos accumulated through the years. This new thumb rating offers very little assistance to determining whether to take the time to watch a video or not. You won’t know if it’s any good until you start watching it. Search results yield any indication of a videos quality; you’ll just have to take your chance on it. I suspect the victims of getting Rick Rolled will skyrocket!
One of the great things for me as an uploader is reading comments left and communicating with viewers. The once simplified, easy to read comment section is now a cumbersome poorly designed batch of text.
Where you once were able to easily read the most recent comment posted, now the comments that receive the most thumbs up (a feature I still don’t understand its purpose) gets raised to the top of the page. Video replies are no longer right under the video (the ideal spot for them) but are now randomly strewn about in the comments. User names don’t stand out from the comment text and the yellow highlight as to when the video uploader chimes in on something that is said is gone. The comment text itself doesn’t even fill the space that is available. It doesn’t utilize all the space it could and as a result looks unformatted and lazy. I’m betting this is going to discourage people from adding comments and adding to the jumble of words that’s now in place. A really poor design overall and one that hinders the community-based nature of YouTube.
Like I said I’m not going to spend a lot of time griping about this. If your not a regular Youtube user you might be scratching your head wondering what I’m talking about, it’s much easier to show this all than try to describe it. My feeling is that it’s not an improvement overall, but we’re going to get stuck with it. As a result I’m disabling ratings for my videos. It’s something I would rather not do and would rather have users continue be given the option of giving my video a rating to one to five stars. I think it would be beneficial to future users who might get curious to check out what this video is all about and it’s able to give me a better idea as to the general reaction it has had. Just having the option of this thumb thing….well I think I’ll pass on it.
Is this how things are going to stay? You got me. Youtube is a funny animal. Despite all the great things it has to offer it’s somewhat baffling at the poorly run mistakes it can make. While it’s the big kid on the block it can get away with making these seemingly bad decisions and people will continue to use it and adjust to them. However, if there comes a day when Youtube will have some serious competition from another site that is more user-friendly and offers up the features and design most users want, they’re going to be in big trouble.