YouTube began pushing out the site's redesign Wednesday after testing the format since January. The cleaner, stripped-down version, which comes after a year of planning, more closely resembles the style and design of pages from parent company Google.
The changes might seem subtle at first, but that's only because the site sports a cleaner look. Metrics from preliminary tests that YouTube ran earlier this year suggest that overall video playbacks with the redesign rose 6%. People stay on the site 7% longer to view and comment longer. The cleaner design also helps pages load faster.
The combined features should give YouTube fodder to attract advertisers who long to engage site visitors more than the average of 15 minutes per session.
That's the length of time people typically hung around and viewed videos, perhaps because the old page design became crowded. Features began competing against each other for the attention of the site visitor, explains Shiva Rajaraman, YouTube senior product manager.
Rajaraman believes the redesign will change that, turning novices into power users though a variety of powerful, yet simple features and functions. For example, the search box has been positioned at the top center of the page. Site visitors can conduct searches as they watch videos.
The Subscribe button and Channel name have been moved to the right near of the video's title. The Next Up video list at the top of the right rail takes into consideration how the person arrived at the site, which means YouTube likely tapped technology from parent company Google that collects information through the Web browser.
Below the Next Up list, site visitors will find suggestions, and additional interesting clips. A new playlist interface, with the next video in the list appearing consistently in the top right, allows the site visitor to expand the list or skip ahead using a next button in the player controls. The site also offers a feature to save playlists. The Favorites button also has become the default option.
YouTube also nixed the five-star rating, replacing it with Like and thumbs-down buttons, which tie into YouTube's social broadcast feature of that video.
The redesign also considers content owners. The site encourages conversation between the content owners and site visitors. People can now ask questions and have the person who uploaded the video comment under the Uploader Comments section. The best rated comment rises to the top.
Hover over the Views tab to reveal stats on the video. If a video owner creates multiple videos they now serve-up on the top of the page without cluttering the sides with links and thumbnails. The site also lets content owners brand videos with a profile and a logo above each video player.
Although the site encourages community and conversation, YouTube has yet to implement the open-source Salmon protocol, which would allow people to share comments across multiple social sites without leaving the page.