Hot on the heels of a major design revamp across the board, Google is all set to launch a major new visual refresh for YouTube. YouTube is one of the hottest online destinations in the world, and even after years of it’s acquisition, people are still swarming the site not only to consume content but also to contribute.
Redesigning YouTube is no mean feat. Unlike Gmail and Google calendar which are often used from other applications, YouTube’s website has high user engagement, and any misstep would anger tens of millions of users. So has Google got it all right with the visual reboot of YouTube dubbed Cosmic Panda?
One major gripe of mine when watching a YouTube video is the lack of the theater mode (where you can turn the background dark to avoid distraction). While the redesign doesn’t bring in a theater mode option in full swing, the dark background that spans half the page is way better.
Another major irritant addressed is the video size options. Earlier, when you tried to make the video window bigger (not fullscreen), the video will automatically start streaming at 480p from 360p without any warning. This puts a major strain on bandwidth, and all the video buffered until that point would have to be re-cached. Now, there are custom icons for four different window sizes below the player while the resolution options stay on the video.
The manner in which suggested videos are listed is really cool and catches the eye of the viewer instantly. Unfortunately, there is no major change in the comments section, so let’s hope that’s also on the way.
Playlists make a fabulous addition to YouTube. But an ugly interface never did justice to this useful feature that lets people queue videos, sit back, and enjoy them for hours at a time. In the design reboot, videos in the queue are placed below the player as thumbnails, which is a great improvement from their original horizontal position that required a lot of scrolling. You can sift through the list by using the left and right controls.
Channels are a cool idea. They help people to identify and subscribe to quality content from quality sources. Just like the playlists, the old design made it impossible for content uploaders to showcase a decent page. Even with the new design, I am not sure if Google has got it completely right. They have certainly moved away from the Geocities era design to a sleek and minimal one, so at least it’s somewhat improved.
Underplaying the featured playlists and relegating them to thumbnails makes for a huge make over. Also the prominently displayed recently uploaded videos with hidden controls adds to the elegance of the overall design. And in the backend, channel owners now have access to more page design options and better editing tools to customize their channel.
Of late, Google has been adding some exclusive features for Google Chrome users, and Cosmic Panda is no exception. If you are a Chrome user, you can keep watching when moving between videos, playlists, and channels.
Taking everything into account, the overall design revamp is a clear winner. YouTube looks cooler and more stylish than ever. People don’t visit YouTube for its aesthetic and user friendly design; they visit it to watch and share fun videos with the rest of world. But Google needs to be applauded for making such an enormous effort on an immensely successful property. Go, turn Cosmic Panda on. You won’t be disappointed.
Share Your Thoughts!
How do you like the Cosmic Panda? Is the design overhaul fulfilling or still missing out on some key areas?